Whereas other dance companies in the Netherlands perform a more or less exclusively modern repertoire, the Dutch National Ballet dances a mix of classical, modern and contemporary works.
The large-scale, full-length classical ballets form an important part of the Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire. Having stood the test of time, these works are regarded as cultural high points the world over and are enduringly popular with audiences. They are equally important in the challenge they pose to classically trained dancers, testing their technical prowess to the limit while also
helping to develop their stage personalities.
There is also a major focus on the work of George Balanchine [1904 - 1983], whose genius Sonia Gaskell ‘discovered’ early on. The Dutch National Ballet is the only company in Europe to have more than 25 of the Russian-American choreographer’s works in their repertoire.
Modern and contemporary repertoire – reflection of the twentieth century
Alongside the classical ‘narrative’ ballets, the Dutch National Ballet has also built up an extensive oeuvre of international highlights of twentieth-century dance. In the very first years of its existence, the company, led by Sonia Gaskell, performed works from the legendary Ballets Russes, the famous company with which the Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev conquered Europe in the early twentieth century. Landmark works such as Petrouchka [for which Gaskell managed to obtain some of the original costumes at an auction] and Les Sylphides by Mikhail Fokine [1880 - 1942], Les Présages by Léonide Massine [1895 - 1979] and, more recently acquired, Les Noces by Bronislava Nijinska [1891 - 1972], are still in the company’s repertoire today.
New repertoire – lifeblood of a company
The company offers more than simply a cross-section of the dance history of the last century and a half. Leading choreographers from the Netherlands and abroad are regularly invited to create new works exclusively for the Dutch National Ballet. New work is the lifeblood of any dance company - however much the Dutch National Ballet respects ballet tradition.
The Dutch National Ballet is also committed to bringing innovative and fresh ideas to dance, thereby introducing its audiences and dancers to the work of young talented choreographers, both from the Netherlands and abroad. Since Ted Brandsen’s appointment, prominent choreographers such as Alexei Ratmansky, Martin Schläpfer, David Dawson, Dominique Dumais, Christopher Wheeldon, Benjamin Millepied, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Nicolo Fonte have created new works for the company. In the coming 2011/2012 season, there will be premieres by Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky, former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet.