Nederlands Dans Theater
“The performers of Nederlands Dans Theater fuse exacting execution and creative ambition to create grotesque, haunting, and sublime images” was the opening line of Broadway World’s review in March 2020, a day after the first performance of NDT 1 in New York City Center. The quote typifies a company that is praised worldwide for dancers who are both as technically gifted as they are exceptionally virtuose.
Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) is one of the world’s leading contemporary dance companies. The group is based in The Hague, but performs for an international audience of 150,000 visitors in Europe, America, Asia and Australia. Since its founding in 1959 by Benjamin Harkarvy, Aart Verstegen and Carel Birnie in collaboration with eighteen dancers from the Dutch National Ballet (then known as Nederlands Ballet), NDT has paved its own way in the modern dance field. Choreographers such as Glen Tetley and Hans van Manen have prominently left an avant-garde mark on the artistic face of the company. Their non-conformist, progressive productions put the NDT on the national and international map.
Since then, the company has built a rich repertoire, consisting of more than 620 ballets by master choreographers Jiří Kylián and Hans van Manen, Sol León & Paul Lightfoot, Crystal Pite and Marco Goecke, Johan Inger, Medhi Walerski, Ohad Naharin, Alexander Ekman, Gabriela Carrizo, Franck Chartier, Hofesh Shechter, Edward Clug and Sharon Eyal & Gai Behar and many others.
Starting season 2020-2021, Emily Molnar is the Artistic Director of the company.
The first company, NDT 1, consists of 28 phenomenal dancers from all over the world, aged 23 to 40 years old. The dancers are world famous for their theatricality, stunning technique and unparalleled expression. Each season, this company performs four Dutch programs in addition to numerous large tours through either Asia, the United States, South America or Australia.
In 1978 the company founded NDT 2 under the inspiring leadership of Jiří Kylián. In a three year trajectory, this second company prepares sixteen recently graduated, often classically trained dancers, for the world top. Initially, NDT 2 was considered a talent development program from which the greatest talents could progress to NDT 1. Over the years, and under the former leadership of Arlette van Boven, Gerald Tibbs and current artistic director and former NDT dancer and choreographer Fernando Hernando Magadan, NDT 2 has developed into an independent company with its own repertoire and extensive national and international tour schedule. The collaboration with many (upcoming) choreographers gives the dancers the opportunity to quickly assimilate to different dance languages, techniques and working methods. From their home base in The Hague, both companies (NDT 1 and NDT 2) work continuously to make a significant contribution to the future of contemporary dance, both in the Netherlands and far beyond.
Talent development and education
As a professional dance company with a rich history and an enormous dedication to a meaningful contribution to the art of dance, it is also very important for NDT to pay attention to the support and cultivation of dance talent.
The Talent Development & Education department organizes a wide range of activities every season in which various target groups get to know NDT in different ways. The Education activities mainly focus on children in primary school. Projects such as Danser in de klas and the recently designed dance apps are a good example of this. However, the talent development projects are aimed at developing dance talent at both amateur and professional levels. Examples include the Young Talent Project (YTP) and the NDT Summer Intensive.
Splash proof in hybrid style
`Kunstkamer is […] a great showcase for the incredibly gifted dancers of Nederlands Dans Theater – who also prove to be meritorious singers, ” wrote Dutch national newspaper NRC in September 2019 after the premiere of the anniversary program Kunstkamer in honor of the 60th anniversary of the company. It continues: “The program shows them individually excelling or splashing in groups, in expressive solos, small formations or synchronous ensemble parts for the entire tableau of 37 dancers.” Kunstkamer was a tribute to NDT’s exceptional trajectory in dance art over the past six decades. The performance also underlined the many styles of the company that together form the typical NDT signature, characterized by a special hybrid of classical ballet principles and the freer, interpretable form of modern dance. 90% of NDT dancers are classically trained, something that always shines through in the works presented by the company. That is “the legacy of a generation of non-conformists that is still carried on to this day,” says NDT archivist Elsbeth Dekker in the anniversary book Nederlands Dans Theater | 60.
Dance talent, choreographic innovation, experimentation and a high degree of productivity – the company creates an average of 10 new works per season – define NDT since its early beginning.
NDT is one of the few production houses that offers so many external choreographers a stage and the opportunity to make creations with and for a virtuoso dance company.
“NDT 2 is a distinct phenomenon, and phenomenal” The Independent
“Today, NDT 2 is a company that is barely secondary to the main company. Not only do the dancers - all between 18 and 23 years old - become acquainted with repertoire, but also the risk that NDT 2 takes by inviting new names, makes the group as exciting as it is electrifying.” Theaterkrant
“The dancers of NDT 2 in Friday night’s performance at the Joyce look absolutely primed for main-company action. They are pliant, exquisite technicians with superb musicality and sense of dynamics.” The New York Times
“A night of superlatives: the youth arm of the famed NDT makes a stunning debut (…) it’s ranks are filled with prodigiously talented dancers” The Straits Times
“The dancers are beautifully articulated, knife-edge virtuosi, with an assurance that belies their youth.” Dancing Times
“Every time NDT 2 hits our stages, the usual superlatives fall flat in speechless admiration at 16 dancers, who can handle anything the top-ranking choreographers care to task them with.” The Herald