Dance this fall – The show must go on

It seems eons ago, 12 March, when the Corona crisis brought all performing arts to a complete standstill. Since June some cultural institutions have tentatively reopened their doors. Many dance institutions and dance companies opted to wait out the summer months, and to restart in September. Dance was one of the hardest-hit disciplines, also due to the restrictions prohibiting physical contact between dancers.

But what will this autumn look like for dance? There is good news: there will be live dance! There will be tours! There will even be premieres! (Disclaimer: this article offers an extensive, but by no means exhaustive, dance overview)

Of course, some things have changed. Most companies offer dressed-down programmes, usually without intermissions. No intermission means less intermingling of guests, while the more compact programmes give companies and theatres the option to book multiple performances on the same date, to offset, albeit ever so slightly, the now very limited audience capacity. The Dutch National Ballet, adhering to the 1.5 meter guidelines, can only use 350 seats of their 1600-seat theatre.

The four current BIS-companies (companies that receive structural subsidies from the state) seem eager to restart. So eager even, that three of them have scheduled premieres on exactly the same date (17 September).

Introdans offers a fine example of how unforeseen circumstances can also breed creativity. Regina van Berkel was already commissioned to create her first world premiere for Introdans for its Amazing Asia programme (premiere: 23 October). But when Corona struck, Van Berkel and artistic director Roel Voorintholt felt inspired to create a second piece, ‘sustained resonance’ (17 September), a preparatory study for the more theatrical piece ‘in a reflective landscape’ she will be making for Amazing Asia, tailored specifically to the Eusebius-church and utilizing all 33 dancers in the company. Both Amazing Asia and the family programme Fantasia (6 November) will be shorter than originally intended, without intermissions, and with multiple performances in one evening.

Scapino Ballet has also worked with the hand Corona has dealt them. Their 2019/2020 production The Square, originally slated to premiere at the schrit_tmacher festival on 4 April, was their first Corona casualty. Now the company will start the new season with a preview of The Square, called The Blend (24 September). They will be ‘recycling’ the location they were going to use for their original 75th anniversary programme (which has now been postponed until September 2021): the Van Nelle Fabriek. Later this autumn they will present a reprisal of The Great Bean by Ed Wubbe, which will be touring around the country. Depending on the location there will be multiple performances in one evening, with some theatres also looking into the possibility of livestreaming events.

NDT has wholeheartedly embraced the livestreaming format. This very first season for the newly minted artistic director Emily Molnar will start with two new programmes: Endlessly Free (17 September) for NDT1 with two pieces by Medhi Walerski and one by Crystal Pite; and Dare to Say (6 November) for NDT2 with world premieres by Alexander Ekman and Dimo Milev. Both shows will go on tour, but the first shows at Zuiderstrandtheater will also offer a livestream option.

The Dutch National Ballet has the busiest schedule. The National Ballet starts off with two separate programmes that will be performed back to back. Dancing Apart Together (17 September) offers a collage of ten short choreographies. With eight new contributions by Ernst Meisner, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa (Frida), artistic director Ted Brandsen and others, and two revivals (Hans van Manen, David Dawson). Also starting from 17 September there will be five performances of Hans van Manen’s timeless classic Live, performed by two dancers and a camera man. In October there will be two programmes as well. Back to Ballet – Classic (13 October) includes excerpts from Le Corsaire and Swan Lake, work by George Balanchine and the complete version of Paquita. Back to Ballet – Contemporary (21 October) will see the world premiere of Manoeuvre by Juanjo Arqués and Pas/Parts 2018 by William Forsythe. The first real full-scale ballet, hopefully, will be The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (9 December), depending on the Corona restrictions, so these tickets are still on hold.

The BIS-companies are not the only ones keeping busy. Conny Janssen Danst will be performing and touring extensively with Danslokaal 8 (17 September), a co-production with Korzo and Dansateliers. Leineroebana picks up touring with Solas. ICK Amsterdam will be travelling across the country with Sweet Like a Chocolate and their new Corona-inspired piece Blasfemie Rapsodie (14 October). Amos Ben-Tal also directly reflects on Corona with his piece 60 In Real Time (12 September). Instead of continuing with his run of 60 as if nothing had happened, Ben-Tal opted for an ‘intimate evening of dance, live music and conversation’. 60 In Real Time will be a reflection both on 60, and on how Corona has changed our perspective of time. Choreographic scenes will be interspersed with short talks, and live music (performed by Ben-Tal himself).

Swan Lake (21 October) by Club Guy and Roni has been given a complete Corona-induced makeover. What was supposed to be a more traditional theatrical experience, has now become a guided theatrical trip. Audience members, 35 at a time, will be taken on a tour through the theatre as if it were a haunted house, and be escorted from scene to scene. The performance will play on a continuous loop – there are nine ‘shifts’ – starting at 6PM and ending at 10:30PM. You can also purchase a livestream ticket, which comes with one great perk: the online audience decides the direction the story will take in real time.

The production houses have not remained idle. Korzo offers an impressive collection of premieres, from Antonin Comestaz (Gömböc, 9 September), Shailesh Bahoran (Shakti, 29 September) and Samir Calixto (SeekerxSolo, 8 October), to Here we live and now (20 October) and Dansclick (27 October). Frascati will play host to Bambie with their premiere of Bambie C (C stands for Corona) on 23 September and to the 20th anniversary of Don’t Hit Mama with Asian Celebration (9 October). Heavily influenced by Corona, Theater Rotterdam, led by its new artistic director Alida Dors, has launched a new Track series, which takes audiences on a creative exploration inside and around the theatre, with a diverse selection of performances and disciplines, including contributions by Ann Van den Broek, Jan Martens and Corpo Maquina.

Last but certainly not least, there are the festivals. Nederlands Theater Festival and Fringe Festival will both be alighting on Amsterdam from 3 – 13 September. Nederlands Theater Festival offers both live and livestream tickets and plays host to the world premiere of Syzygy by Ahlbom Company (3 September) – which, sadly, won’t be available for livestream. At Fringe Festival the main programme is 100% live, with performances scattered around thirty small theatres and unexpected locations in Amsterdam, including Dansmakers Amsterdam.

Dutch Dance Festival the Nederlandse Dans Dagen (1–8 October) was one of the first dance festivals to quickly decide to go completely digital this year. Each day features a virtual premiere, including a preliminary study by Cecilia Moisio (Revolt: Laboratium), winner of the 2019 Dutch Dance Festival Young Audience Award, and the world premiere of Pilot PC by Connor Schumacher, winner of the 2019 Dutch Dance Festival Maastricht Award. Schumacher will continue touring with Pilot PC. The recipients of the Dutch Dance Festival Awards will be announced during the digital edition. Traditionally, the festival would have included the presentation of the ‘Zwanen’ (the Dutch Dance Oscars). This has been postponed to next year, although the nominees will be announced.

From 15 – 25 October Festival Circolo  will be held at Leijpark in Tilburg, featuring the premieres of Fase by Marta & Kim (20 October) and On/Off  by Piet Van Dycke and Peter van der Heijden (also 20 October), a try-out by the TeaTime Company and a preview of Decypher by the Ruggeds, which will premiere in early 2021. From 13 – 21 November there will be an intimate edition of the Jonge Harten Theaterfestival, which will eschew the larger venues and will focus on themes of discomfort and intimacy.

Photo: Introdans – Hans Gerritsen