Three muses of the dance: Princess Beatrix, Martha Graham and Ana Laguna

The sixteenth edition of the Holland Dance Festival concluded this weekend with several sold out performances. Since 1987 the festival opens a biannual window to the world of international dance. Over the past three weeks there was a lot to be explored in the varied festival program that almost exclusively consisted of Dutch firsts: 52 performances of 20 productions from 19 countries showcased the international character and the versatility of dance.

95 percent of the productions could be seen exclusively and for the first time in the Netherlands at the festival. With over 22.000 visitors audience attendance increased by 10 percent; average capacity filling was at 83 percent. The Hague was the vibrant heart of the Holland Dance Festival with the cities of Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam and Luxemburg as additional festival sites.

As a prelude to her 80th birthday, Princess Beatrix, muse of the Dutch Dance, accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien, were present at the festive opening gala. They saw performances by various (inter)national companies that were present later in the festival, and a special guest performance by the Russian Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre, in a choreography by Goyo Montero.

The performance of the Eun-Me Ahn Company made a special impression at the gala. With her Dancing Grandmothers the Korean choreographer conquered the hearts of the audience. The performances her group gave in The Hague and Amsterdam were completely sold out. Other highlights at the gala were the ‘inclusion duet’ Dare to Wreck for a wheelchair dancer and a dancer from the Danish Skånes Dansteater and The Golden Pas de Deux by choreographer Stephen Shropshire who scored big later in the festival with the international Holland Dance Festival co-production About Miss Julie. De Volkskrant wrote: “Shropshire shows how a restrained interplay with quiet and silence can produce a suggestive and charged performance.”

During this festival edition the program once again bridged the gap between younger and older dancers. One of the many highlights was the exclusive program Mixed Bill. In this program with works from master choreographers Jiří Kylián, Mats Ek and Emanuel Gat, the 72 year old Ek danced with his wife and muse Ana Laguna. Laguna, now 62 years old, danced with great artists like Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Her performance made a deep impression, also on the young spectators, among which the entire tableau of dancers of the Martha Graham Dance Company. The international press wrote about this evening: “A wonderful evening that demonstrated the diversity and possibilities of modern dance.”

‘The mother of contemporary dance’, was the headline in the Financiële Dagblad about Martha Graham. The work of the legendary ‘Picasso of the dance’ could briefly be experienced again in the Netherlands. Invited by festival director Samuel Wuersten, in close collaboration with Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam, her company came to Europe and all the performances of 91 year old company were completely sold out in The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Luxemburg, Bonn and Neuss. “The Holland Dance Festival rightfully presents the Martha Graham Dance Company as the crown jewel of this edition”, wrote NRC Handelsblad. The Legend was Back!
Holland Dance Festival 2020
The next edition of Holland Dance Festival, the international dance festival of the Netherlands is scheduled for January and February 2020. The first preparations for the seventeenth edition have already started. The festival once again promises to be a wonderful sample card of the international most renowned and innovating dance productions.