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Looking back at Holland Dance Festival 2024

16 February 2024

Dance art: connector and example of boundless humanity

With over 60 performances in 20 different productions the nineteenth edition of Holland Dance Festival successfully concluded on Saturday 17 February with the new multimedia dance performance Digital Twin by David Middendorp/Another Kind Of Blue.

Twenty-four dance companies came together to show the latest trends and developments in international dance. The entire festival featured 300 dancers with 30 nationalities from all over the globe, from all parts of society and from different cultures. In this turbulent time and world full of uncertainty, the art of dance proves even more to be a great connector and example of boundless humanity by touching, entertaining, surprising, and sometimes shocking theatre audiences.

Holland Dance Festival (HDF) was founded in 1987 to present international dance with the powerful, unambiguous mission of making dance accessible to everyone. In the only dance biennial in the Netherlands, more than 20,000 visitors were introduced to the most distinctive, high-profile and at the same time highly accessible productions and companies from all over the world. The festival programme is complementary, versatile, appeals to a wide audience and has a pronounced focus on the physical, virtuoso spectrum of dance.

Next to a mix of big international names, the festival also gave a stage to upcoming, not-yet-known dancers and choreographers. The festival programme was shown in dance city The Hague and some productions were also shown in Delft, Rotterdam, Tilburg, Drachten, Hengelo, Utrecht, and Aachen (Germany).

Royal visit
Princess Beatrix, dance enthusiast par excellence, was again present at the opening gala of Holland Dance Festival on January 24. Together with Their Royal Highnesses Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien, they watched as 75 young dancers kicked off the festival. During the gala, the prestigious Jiří Kylián Ring was also awarded this time to Paul Bronkhorst for his great commitment to his retraining scheme for dancers. Afterwards, the dancers were personally thanked and praised backstage by the Royal Highnesses.

New discoveries and international dance heritage in large-scale as well as intimate performances

A striking feature of this highly varied nineteenth edition of Holland Dance Festival was the focus on making young dancers visible. Participating professional schools and junior companies from the US, Canada, Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands not only demonstrated their exceptional dance talents; additionally, these exemplary young dancers proved to be true representatives of the future of dance. The 50th anniversary of Ailey II and the 10th anniversary of the Junior Company of the National Ballet were celebrated with their own programmes.

Hip-hop, street, and urban dance were ironclad with the productions of The Rite of Krump, Illegal Dance and Sol Invictus. On the inclusion front, the world premieres of an Accident / a Life by Marc Brew & Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Free Birds Fly by Compagnie Tiuri with choreographer Jordy Dik made a big impression. Traditionally, the festival programme was rich with premieres for the Dutch audience. The debuts of Gibney Company from New York and Silvia Gribaudi from Italy were received with great enthusiasm.

HDF also sees itself more and more as a network organisation, which not only signals what is going on in the international dance world, but also plays an active role in it as initiator, partner, and curator. For the 2024 festival, for example, this meant that the HDF-initiated Pitching Project work by young Israeli and Palestinian creators were shown.

In the double bill WHENUA by New Zealand Dance Company, the influence of Maori culture was palpable and the mix with their powerful contemporary dance left a special impression.
NDT 1, with the high-profile world premiere by Simon McBurney and Crystal Pite halfway through the festival, formed the backbone of many different international dance productions, which showcased The Hague, the 'City of Peace, Law and Dance'.

Compagnie Hervé Koubi captured the hearts of the audience with Sol Invictus. As the New York Times aptly wrote: "They fly. They spin. They change how you see the amazing". In this new masterpiece, the 19 dancers were a close-knit group, taking responsibility not only for themselves but also for each other. On stage, they celebrated life and seemed to make fun of death while dancing. Sol Invictus, named after the Roman god of the sun, reminds us of the ritual that took place during the annual Roman Midwinter Festival, celebrating the coming of better days. This performance radiated hope even after the darkest of days.


Sjoerd Derine
Sjoerd Derine
Sjoerd Derine
Nathalie Sternalski

And there was more... partner meetings, symposium, focus day, introductions, after-talks and films

Holland Dance Festival not only shone with breathtaking dance performances, but also opened its doors for partner meetings. Under the titles Dance On, Pass On, Dream On and Europe Beyond Access, more than 20 leading European partners came together to discuss key issues and to share valuable knowledge.

The internationally organised DanceAble Symposium on inclusion in the performing arts featured 400 participants from 16 different countries live and online. The festival programme also contained a inspiring Focus Day for dance teachers on the topic of Dance and the Elderly.

Next to that, 38 introductions before and follow-up discussion after the performances were offered to further acquaint audiences with the content of the performances and the associated dance artists. The enthusiastic response and great interest in these encounters contributed to the connection with the audience.
Furthermore visitors saw films related to the festival programme at Filmhuis Den Haag and Lantaren Venster Rotterdam.

And there was plenty more... for the young, the old and everyone in between
Around the performances in Amare, the audience could experience what it is like to be in the middle of a dance performance with VR glasses. Cuban choreographer Miguel Altunaga created a virtual dance universe with young amateur dancers.

HDF also organised nearly 40 workshops given by dancers and choreographers from the various international companies that were part of the festival. Holland Dance Festival's motto for years has been that dance belongs to and is for everyone. Therefore, the festival again presented a new edition of Good [old] Times, the biennial production for dancers aged over 55 years. Choreographer Lonneke van Leth presented a sparkling family performance with these older dancers.

And finally... the future belongs to young people

The Talent On The Move tour started this time again during the festival with a 'special edition'. The collaboration between Group Grenade from Aix-en-Provence and Codarts Rotterdam enriched with the even younger talents of Codarts Lyceum (the Codarts pre-school), became a resounding success with two sold-out evenings in Delft. Besides the performance Play, Move, Explore, Become, this collaborative project also included workshops, lessons, and other exchange activities. A great challenge for the young dancers from Rotterdam and Aix-en-Provence to work in an international and intercultural context and broaden their horizons.

The festival is the place where young creators get their first chances to develop further. The aim is for them to grow within the dance world. In addition, the festival is a place, where more experienced makers can create work and where both groups from all over the world come together, meet and grow.

HOLLAND DANCE FESTIVAL 2024 – January 24 until February 17 |

In 2026, Holland Dance Festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary edition and it is scheduled from 4 to 22 February 2026. Initial preparations are already in full swing. Once again, the festival promises to be a rich sample card of the most internationally significant and high-profile dance productions.