The Netherlands has no centuries-old tradition of classical ballet, baroque dance, folk dance or courtly dance such as that of France or Russia. Besides the disadvantages this also has one advantage: when modern dance made its entrance in the 1950s there were no sensitive toes to be trodden on. The path was free for self-willed dancers to venture forth as autodidacts into the world of choreography. With success. Hans van Manen, Rudi van Dantzig and Toer van Schayk – known as ‘the three Vans’ – were very successful in promoting modern dance in the Netherlands, making effective use of the tried and tested techniques used in classical ballet. The first made a name for himself with his clarity with a swing, the second with his socially engaged dances and the third with his expressive ability. Their choreographies are renowned throughout the world and are still part of the Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire.
At the same time, avant-garde dance blossomed in the smaller circuit, influenced by such artistes as Pauline de Groot, Koert Stuyf and Ellen Edinoff, who encountered post-modernism in America and – later – emotionally-charged dance theatre in Germany. This receptivity to artistic experimentation created a breeding-ground upon which countless dance initiatives would come to fruition: groups and production centres which focused on dance, combined with new music, the visual arts and/or prose. The 1970s and ‘80s were a ‘golden age’ in which there was enormous public interest in the latest creations of choreographers working in the Netherlands. The greatest attraction was the Czech Jirí Kylián, who as artistic director of the Nederlands Dans Theater brought the company world fame with his lyrical, poetic choreographies. The Hungarian Krisztina de Châtel, a pupil of Stuyf and Edinoff, created a furore with her minimalistic, repetitive dance. The diversity in modern dance grew explosively: from autodidact Itzik Galili with his energetic, acrobatic and often violent (although comic) moves, to the duo Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten (Emio Greco | PC) with their sensational charged idiom based on sultry movements and the inner intentions of the dancers, and from the duo Leine & Roebana who combine old music with a new language of dance to a whole range of choreographers working in collectives. A number of these took inspiration from the post-modern deconstructivism of ballet innovator William Forsythe, who unleashed new improvisation techniques on the ingeniously unravelled academic dance system.
Bookmark/Search this post with