Dutch National Ballet opened their new season last saturday with a festive gala performance. This year’s programme showed the company’s many faces, with pas de deux from classics (Swan Lake and Le Corsaire), as well as contemporary works by Hans van Manen and a new creation by artistic director Ted Brandsen. The evening offers an unique opportunity to see all principal dancers on stage and gives the audience a taste of the season to come. With the exciting repertoire and excellent dancing showcased tonight, it promises to be a strong one.

La Grande Promenade, Dutch National Ballet © Raymond Rutting
La Grande Promenade, Dutch National Ballet
© Raymond Rutting

The programme opens with the Grande Promenade, a défilé, in which the nearly 200 dancers and students of the National ballet Academy participate. Ted Brandsen’s Beginning, a neo-classical piece created for the new members of the Junior Company followed. The spotlight then turned onto the soloists of the company, with Edo Wijnen, Rink Sliphorst and Young Gyu Choi in Hans van Manen’s virtuosic Solo. The men alternatively perform countless high speed turns and swift movements, succeding each other in keeping up with Bach’s music. The masculine and playful character of the piece allows the dancers to let loose, with an energy bound to rub off on the audience.

Then come two pas de deux. Anna Tsygankova and Matthew Golding are reunited for Delibes Suite (José Martinez). It’s a pleasure to see them showing their sparkling technique in a choreography with a touch of tender irony. The white pas des deux from Rudi van Dantzig’s beautiful version of Swan Lake is danced by Igone de Jongh – who dances the role of Odette with intensity and focus – and her ever charming prince Vito Mazzeo – who proves himself to be an attentive partner.

<i>Fantasia</i> , Dutch National Ballet © Angela Sterling
Fantasia , Dutch National Ballet
© Angela Sterling

The second half of the programme opens with a short film by Altin Kaftira (ex DNB dancer and videographer) which gives us a glimpse of the principals' strengths at work.

Three contemporary pieces then succeed each other, beginning with Christopher’s Wheeldon’s lyrical Duet. A romantic piece, Duet is beautifully danced by Anna Tsygankova and Jozef Varga. Principal dancer Remi Wörtmeyer presents Joel, a self-choreographed short solo full of vivacity, that suits his cheerful quality well. Igone de Jongh and Casey Herd impress in another work by Hans van Manen; Fantasía, a powerful and fascinating sensual work charged with erotic tension.

The evening continues with Diana et Acteon's pas de deux (danced by Maia Makhateli and Autur Shesterikov), an excerpt of John Neumeier’s La Dame aux Camélias, and Le Corsaire's Grand Pas, performed by this year's winners of the Alexandra Radius price, Jurgita Dronina and Isaac Hernandez. Dronina's fouettes seemed effortless, while Hernandez's showed both high jumps and extraodinary turns. But La Dame aux Camélias – which will see its Dutch Première this season is one of the highlights of the evening. This dramatic ballet really suits guest dancers Marijn Rademaker and Hélène Bouchet. Every one of Bouchet's movement is eloquent and emotional, her face expressive and her feet beautifully arched. One can only be eager to see the full length ballet. 

Le Corsaire, Dutch National Ballet © Angela Sterling
Le Corsaire, Dutch National Ballet
© Angela Sterling
The gala concludes with Ted Brandsen’s Vivace, a bright and enjoyable work for a male ensemble .

Dutch National Ballet’s gala made for a festive opening to the season. It succeeded in showing the company’s rich and varied repertoire as well as the many faces of their dancers. A great teaser of what's to come.