Rudi van Dantzig


Few people have left such a mark on the Dutch National Ballet and the Dutch dance world as writer and choreographer Rudi van Dantzig (Amsterdam, 1933-2012). For twenty years Van Dantzig was the artistic leader of Dutch National Ballet and he made choreographies that demonstrated an enormous social involvement.

Few people have left such a mark on the Dutch National Ballet and the Dutch dance world as writer and choreographer Rudi van Dantzig (Amsterdam, 1933-2012). He started his dancing career in 1952 with Sonia Gaskell’s company Ballet Recital, the forerunner of the Dutch National Ballet. Following the foundation of the Dutch National Ballet in 1961, he became the resident choreographer of the company, and, after having been the artistic co-director with three other people from 1965 onwards, Van Dantzig became the sole artistic director in 1971, which position he held until 1991.

If there is one word that best describes Rudi van Dantzig, it is ‘inspired’. Reserved as a child, in dance Van Dantzig found a conduit for all the feelings surrounding his experiences during the war and personal struggle with his homosexuality. For twenty years Van Dantzig was the sole artistic director of Dutch National Ballet, forging the company into a cohesive whole. His choreographies, numbering more than forty for Dutch National Ballet, testify to a strong social commitment and ongoing quest to ‘attain the unattainable’.

In total, Van Dantzig created over fifty ballets, often in collaboration with Toer van Schayk as set and costume designer. Some of his works are still in the Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire and that of many companies abroad. Van Dantzig’s best-known works include Vier Letzte Lieder, Monument for a dead boy, Onder mijne voeten and his versions of the full-length classics Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake.

Rudi van Dantzig has also become a well-known author. His debut novel was For a lost soldier, which was followed by The trail of a comet, a book about his memories of Rudolf Nureyev, in 1993, and The life of Willem Arondéus. Another well-known work is Olga de Haas: a memory. Van Dantzig spent his last few years writing the book Memories of Sonia Gaskell, which was published posthumously in June 2013.

On the occasion of his 75th birthday in 2009, Dutch National Ballet paid tribute to their former artistic director with a programme dedicated to Van Dantzig and his work. On Wednesday 9 May 2012, the company presented a homage to Van Dantzig to mark his death on 19 January 2012.

In the 2014-2015 season, Dutch National Ballet performs Van Dantzig’s famous version of Marius Petipa’s Swan Lake.


  • 2005, Silver Medal (Amsterdam)
  • 2002, Life Time Achievement Award (Prix Benois de la Danse)
  • 1991, Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau
  • 1985, Sonia Gaskell Award
  • 1982, Verdienstkreuz am Bande (Germany)
  • 1970, Choreography Prize (Amsterdam)
  • 1969, Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau
  • 1961, Prix de la Critique
  • 1956, Choreography Prize (Amsterdam)