Beethoven

Hans van Manen, Wubkje Kuindersma, Remi Wörtmeyer, Ernst Meisner
Het Nationale Ballet

Inspired by great compositions

Choreographer George Balanchine once said: 'The art of dance would be better off not venturing into Beethoven's world, because it is impossible to choreograph his music.' But with a famous masterpiece and a new creation set to music by Beethoven, Dutch National Ballet proves him false. And with sensational results! 

Programme
Alongside the ballet Grosse Fuge by Dutch master Hans van Manen, you will see the world premiere of a new joint choreography by Wubkje Kuindersma, Remi Wörtmeyer and Ernst Meisner: Prometheus.

Background information

Grosse Fuge, Hans van Manen
A burst of energy

Immediately after the premiere of Van Manen's Grosse Fuge, set to Beethoven's string quartet of the same name, this sublime choreography was proclaimed 'the most important European ballet of the decade'. To this day, the thrilling double quartet has not lost any of its popularity: Grosse Fuge is one of the most performed Van Manen ballets worldwide. 'Brilliant and eye-catching', 'a burst of energy', is what the press has called recent performances. The choreography for four men and four women consists of two very different parts, which nevertheless form a harmonious whole. In the fugue, the tensions are complex and charged; in the cavatina, they are lyrically handled and resolved. In the first part of the work, the men wear black skirts designed by Van Manen himself, which make their movements even fiercer and more aggressive, while the women look as if they have just stepped out of their evening gowns.

Prometheus, Wubkje Kuindersma, Remi Wörtmeyer and Ernst Meisner
Divine fire

The only ballet composition Beethoven has ever written is the allegorical trade ballet Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, which he composed in 1801 at the request of the Viennese Imperial Court. The music of this ballet was a great success, but from the choreography only a short synopsis - about Prometheus who steals fire from the gods to give it to two human figures - has survived. In Beethoven, Wubkje Kuindersma, Ernst Meisner and Remi Wörtmeyer, three renowned young choreographers, present the world premiere of their new, more abstract translation of Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus. Following in the footsteps of the three 'Van's' who jointly created Collective Symphony in 1975, they each take on a part of Beethoven's ballet. 

Music: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Ludwig van Beethoven is considered one of the greatest composers ever to have lived, on a par with Bach and Mozart. At the age of 11 he could already play Bach’s entire Das wohltemperierte Klavier by heart and was writing his own compositions. Later he studied with Joseph Haydn and Johann Schenk in Vienna, forming part of the so-called First Viennese School, alongside Mozart and Haydn. It was also Beethoven who paved the way for Romantic music, stressing the expression of personal emotions. Around 1800 he began to experience the first signs of deafness. In his later years he became paranoid and isolated, composing his final, often misunderstood, works in a world of silence.

Biographies

Hans van Manen (Nieuwer-Amstel, 1932) is resident choreographer with Dutch National Ballet and internationally recognised as one of the grand masters of contemporary ballet. Including his works for television, he has now created more than 150 ballets, which all bear his distinct signature. The great clarity in structure and refined simplicity of his choreography have earned him the nickname the ‘Mondrian of dance’. Besides being in the repertoire of Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater (the two main performers of his works), his ballets are also danced by over ninety companies outside the Netherlands. The international stars with whom he has worked over the years include Anthony Dowell, Marcia Haydée, Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nureyev, Ulyana Lopatkina and Diana Vishneva. Besides being a choreographer, Hans van Manen has also been active as an extremely successful photographer for ten years. His work has been published in books and shown at international exhibitions. 

Van Manen had his first ballet lessons in the late forties from Sonia Gaskell, who engaged him in her group Ballet Recital in 1951. Van Manen went on to dance with the Netherlands Opera Ballet and Roland Petit's Ballets de Paris. In 1955, he made his debut as a choreographer with Olé, Olé, la Margarita. His third creation, Feestgericht, received the State Award for Choreography. From 1960 onwards, Van Manen has worked alternately with the two main dance companies of the Netherlands. After co-directing Nederlands Dans Theater, he became a resident choreographer – first with the Dutch National Ballet (1973-1987), and then with Nederlands Dans Theater (1988-2003). Since 2005, he has held the post of resident choreographer with the Dutch National Ballet. 

To celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday in 2007, the Dutch National Ballet organised the Hans van Manen Festival, a tribute in which twenty of his works were performed by leading ensembles and artists from the Netherlands and abroad. During the festival, Hans Van Manen was made a Commander in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. In 2000, Van Manen was awarded the Erasmus Prize, and in 2013 he received the Golden Age Award. Also in 2013, he was appointed patron of the Dutch National Ballet Academy (part of the Amsterdam University of the Arts). He became a member of the Society of Arts in 2015. 

In Montpellier in 2017, in the presence of Jet Bussemaker, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Van Manen was made a Commander in the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. One year later, he was awarded the Honorary Medal for Arts and Science of the Order of the House of Orange for his ‘enormous contribution to the arts in the Netherlands and to ballet in particular’. 

Solidarity, gender equality and human rights are important themes in the work of the Dutch choreographer Wubkje Kuindersma (born in Cameroon). She sees dance as an ‘Architecture of Hope’, as dance has the universal power to connect people. Kuindersma is Young Creative Associate with Dutch National Ballet. 

For her debut work as choreographer, Aquasomnia (2009), Kuindersma received a special award for original movement vocabulary at the choreography competition U30 in Cologne, in 2010. Her male duet Doubleyou, created for the Korzo/NDT-programme Here we live and now, received the BNG Bank Dance Award for choreographic talent, in 2016. 

In recent years, Kuindersma has created the following works for Dutch National Ballet and its Junior Company: Mangåta (2017), Two and Only (2017), Mesmer (2019), Echoes of Tomorrow (2020), Prometheus (2020/2021), Memento (2021) and – in co-production with West Australian Ballet – Architecture of Hope (2020). For his role in Kuindersma’s internationally acclaimed Two and Only, Marijn Rademaker received a nomination for the Prix Benois de la Danse. Kuindersma has been a Young Creative Associate with Dutch National Ballet since 2021. 

Kuindersma has also created work for Noverre (at Stuttgarter Ballett), Bundesjugend Ballett (directed by John Neumeier), Korzo (in collaboration with Nederlands Dans Theater), Ballett Dortmund, Hessisches Staatsballett, BalletX, West Australian Ballet, Dansk Danseteater, Ballett Landestheater Coburg, Beijing Dance Academy, the Dutch National Ballet Academy, Codarts and Philharmonie Luxembourg. 

The leading American publication Dance Magazine included Kuindersma in its ‘Top 25 to watch for 2019’, an annual list of dancers, choreographers and companies the magazine deems representative of the future of dance. In 2019, Kuindersma was nominated for the Prize of the Dutch Dance Days Maastricht, an award for young, promising talent. 

The Dutchman Ernst Meisner is an extremely versatile person. Besides being a choreographer, he has also been the artistic coordinator of Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company since its foundation in 2013. Since 2018, he has also been the artistic director of the Dutch National Ballet Academy.

Meisner was a dancer with The Royal Ballet (2000-2010) and Dutch National Ballet (2010-2013). He already started choreographing during his career as a dancer. He created several works for The Royal Ballet’s choreographic workshop, including the duet What if, for Melissa Hamilton and Sergei Polunin, who were already very promising dancers at the time. For Dutch National Ballet, Meisner’s works included And after we were (2011), the children’s production The little big chest (2011), Saltarello (2012) and the Dutch National Canta Ballet (2012), all created during his time as a dancer with the company. 

At the beginning of 2013, he created Study in Six, to music by Jude Vaclavik, for the New York Choreographic Institute, which is affiliated to New York City Ballet. He has also done the choreography for dance films by Crystal Ballet and for Bounden, a dance game/app by GameOven Studios. In

recent years, Dutch National Ballet has presented Meisner’s creations Axiom of Choice (2014), Merge (2016), In Transit (2017), Impermanence (2018) and Prometheus (2020/2021). For his Junior Company, Meisner has created Embers (2013), Lollapalooza (2013), No Time Before Time (2016) and Largo (2020). Together with Marco Gerris from ISH Dance Collective, he has also created the imaginative, highly acclaimed hiphop-meets-ballet productions Narnia: The lion, the witch and the wardrobe (2015) and GRIMM (2018), in which the Junior Company dancers share the stage with dancers from ISH. 

The Australian dancer Remi Wörtmeyer (Adelaide) joined Dutch National Ballet in 2010 as a grand sujet and was promoted to soloist the following year. In 2013, he was appointed principal dancer. 

Remi trained at The Australian Ballet School and went on to dance with The Australian Ballet in Melbourne and with American Ballet Theatre in New York for a year. He won the Walter Burke Award in 2005 and silver at the 8th Asian Pacific International Ballet Competition in 2001. In 2013, he was honoured with the Alexandra Radius Prize. One year later, he received the Audience Award at the Dance Open Festival in St. Petersburg, and in 2016 he was elected Mr. Expressivity at the same festival. The British magazine Dance Europe mentioned him in 2017 and 2019 in its Critics’ Choice, in the category ‘Outstanding performance by a male dancer’. 

In recent years, Remi has also developed as a choreographer. He choreographed Homebody and Morning Blossoms for ODD Continent and created several pas de deux that are regularly performed at international ballet galas. In 2018, his creation You Before Me premiered at Dutch National Ballet’s annual gala. In the same year, he also choreographed a work for Ballet de Catalunya, inspired by the work of Piet Mondriaan. In June 2020, Remi created Safe Distance Ballet for a collaboration between Dutch National Ballet and G-Star RAW, with an eye-catching tutu measuring three metres in diameter, which was inspired by the one-and-a-half-metre society. Remi’s other talents include painting, sculpting and designing (ballet) costumes, and he has already held several exhibitions. 

Credits

Grosse Fuge
choreography
Hans van Manen
set design
Jean-Paul Vroom
light design
Joop Caboort
costume design
Hans van Manen
Prometheus
choreography
Wubkje Kuindersma, Ernst Meisner, Remi Wörtmeyer
set and costume design
Tatyana van Walsum
light design
Carlo Cerri
dramaturgy
Willem Bruls
This performance was made possible with support by

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