Dutch National Ballet Academy

In the end-of-year performance Dancers of Tomorrow, 53 of the youngest pupils, from year groups 1, 2 and 3, filled the huge stage of Dutch National Opera & Ballet to capacity. In Together(e), a piece made especially for them by upcoming Dutch choreographer Wubkje Kuindersma, there was no room for cheeky young soloists to show off. With its constantly shifting patterns, this was a serious exercise in corps de ballet training. At the other end of the age spectrum, the Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company (the stepping stone between the academy and professional dance companies) danced Revelry by Ernst Meisner. As Meisner is both artistic director of the academy and artistic coordinator of the Junior Company, it was appropriate to include this light-hearted, bouncy ballet.

The big classical challenge for the graduates (although opened by a stylish mazurka from the youngsters) came in the form of Paquita, in the logical, musical version created by Rachel Beaujean for Dutch National Ballet. The dancers rose to the occasion and there were some remarkable performances, particularly from leading lady Emma Mardegan. Besides her strong technique and impeccable fouettés, she exuded lyrical maturity and self-assurance. Mardegan is one of the three students joining the Junior Company next season. Watch out for her! Sena Kitano (just 16, so staying at the academy) danced the second girl’s solo with a warm, engaging presence and Minori Nakashima (joining Staatsballett Berlin) 

opened the fourth solo with an astoundingly beautiful display of grand jetés.But nowadays it is not enough for classical ballet academies to produce dancers who can just do wonderful fouettés and jetés. Companies need all-round dancers to perform a varied repertoire, so the academy also places strong emphasis on character, world and contemporary dance lessons. This year, the dancers got their teeth into the final section of Wayne McGregor’s Atomos. They looked very at home in the organic movement idiom, which was interpreted with a nice light quality by Anna van Dieren.

After the interval came two pieces created especially for the students. The curtain rose on Made in Holland, a delightful piece for students in the upper years by Didy Veldman. Accompanied by Simeon ten Holt’s minimal piano music, played on stage by Sepp Grotenhuis, the choreography revolves around the typically Dutch yellow clog. Besides dancing in the clogs, the dancers carry them almost ritualistically and place them in patterns around the stage. At no point does the understated humour ever become twee, and the dancers perform with refreshingly relaxed energy. Traditionally, the programme always includes a world dance piece. This year, world dance teacher Iva Lešic added a special touch to her creation, dedicating it to Fred Berlips, former dancer with Dutch National Ballet and ballet teacher at the academy for many years, who is retiring in December. Rather than being a string of dances from different countries, 

Ode aan Fred predominantly shows the joy of dance itself, interspersed with elements of world dance like clapping and heel work, etc. Mingus de Swaan stood out as a particularly natural dancer with great stage presence.

The evening closed with Boléro, choreographed to Ravel’s music by Gregor Seyffert and Larisa Dobrozhan. Originally made for the academy in Berlin, Meisner spotted it there and brought it to Amsterdam. It combines all the traditional elements of a défilé, involving the whole school in a display of technical tricks that become progressively more difficult, but with a far more imaginative use of the stage and lighting. For instance, dancers slip over and under barres held by invisible dancers, and inventive whisks of a curtain appear to make a male dancer get older and taller! And the pointework section is introduced by a row of feet in a strip of red light at the back of the stage, as the curtain gradually rises to show more leg. Of course, the building momentum of Ravel’s Bolero is cut out for this concept and was a great way of underlining the Dutch Ballet Orchestra’s contribution to the success of the evening. The standard of the whole performance was very high and inspiring, and the academy staff and teachers must be very proud of this generation of ‘dancers of tomorrow’.

Susan Pond


Emma Mardegan — Junior Company Dutch National Ballet, 1st year

Claire Tjoe Fat — Junior Company Dutch National Ballet, 1st year

Philippe Magdelijns — Junior Company Dutch National Ballet, 1st year

Gene Goodman — internship Introdans 

Leah Reiter — internship Introdans 

Sarah Dadonova — Ballet Národní divadlo Brno (NdB), National Theater Brno, Czech Republic

Moe Fujiwara — National Ballet of Romania 

Ruben Genet — National Ballet of Lithuania
Mischa Goodman — Finnish National Ballet, Junior Company

Guus Hak — Hungarian National Ballet
Minori Nakashima — Ballett Berlin Staatsoper

Jillis Roshanali  — BallettCompagnie Oldenburg, Oldenburgisches Staatstheater