Dance might be a relative newcomer to the Netherlands – with traditions not much more than a half-century old – but it has a wealth of different forms, ranging from the international top quality of the Nederlands Dans Theater in The Hague to the rough/raw underground of T.R.A.S.H. in Tilburg, from the open and audience-friendly approach of Conny Janssen Danst and Introdans to the exploratory character of Emio Greco | PC and Leine & Roebana and from the architecturally repetitive dance of Krisztina de Châtel to the conceptual dance of Ivana Müller, Nicole Beutler en Pere Faura. There are also inspirational festivals, ranging from the large-scale Holland Dance Festival, Julidans, Springdance and Holland Festival to the more intimate CaDance, Something Raw and De Nederlandse Dansdagen.
Amidst all this diversity, one aspect of dance in the Netherlands truly stands out: the high standard and great success of youth dance. Introdans Ensemble for Youth in particular, but also smaller companies, are greatly acclaimed for their dedication to making new and existing choreographies attractive to a young audience. For if there is one discipline where the Dutch saying ‘Learned when young is done when old’ holds true, it is in the field of dance, whether in the practice or the appreciation of dance.
Fifty years is neither young nor old, but it is a milestone; a cause for celebration. And many celebrations are taking place in the world of Dutch modern dance. These days company after company is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary: the Nederlands Dans Theater, established in 1959 and one of the top companies in the world, has just rounded off its festivities, while the golden jubilee of the National Ballet, established in 1961, is just around the corner. And following in the wake of these large Dutch companies are other groups with cause to celebrate, such as the International Dance Theatre – also fifty in 2011 and with a focus on world dance and folk dance – and Introdans in Arnhem – a broad and easily accessible company that will be forty years old in 2011.
These are more than just satisfyingly round numbers. They make a statement. Young though dance may be in the Netherlands, with no long tradition of classical ballet, it can look back on more than fifty years of history. And this is now taking place. At last! For a long time modern dance in the Netherlands was so driven by the urge to innovate that the past seemed almost non-existent.
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