The seventeenth edition of the Holland Dance Festival took place in January and February 2020. For three weeks The Hague was completely dedicated to international dance. A total of some fifty performances from all over the world could be seen in The Hague theaters during this period, which underscored the universal character and the enormous richness and versatility of dance. In addition, a large number of the festival productions could also be seen in Amsterdam, Delft and Tilburg.
A program full of firsts
In 2020, the festival once again mainly brought premieres for the Dutch audience and presented companies and dance artists that would otherwise not be on display in our country. There was something new to discover or recognize for everyone.
Samuel Wuersten, Artistic Director Holland Dance Festival:
One of the perhaps somewhat ‘strange’ productions was Bow by the Korean Jean Misook Dance Company. “A production about the Asian tradition of greeting each other with a bow and in the final part of the performance the dancers hardly do anything else either. Colleagues who knew I wanted to bring the production to the Netherlands said: ‘You have to skip that end’, but I decided not to. I knew: yes, I’ll take a risk, maybe I’ll hit and miss. But Bow toured all over the Netherlands after the performances at the festival and people everywhere were deeply touched by the performance. Because of the poetry it radiates, because of the special atmosphere you can’t ignore, because of the amazement you feel, whether or not you understand what the production is about”.
The same special atmosphere was also felt in the performance MIRE by the Swiss Jasmine Morand, in which the audience lay on the floor, in a circle around the ‘dance arena’ and observed the – naked – dancers through mirrors on the ceiling as if looking through a kaleidoscope. “You can call MIRE a living work of art. I had seen the work in Switzerland, where it was very successful, and I immediately loved it. But still I wondered, also because I’m not so keen on ‘audience participation’, whether the Dutch public would be interested in exactly that: lying next to each other in a dark theater hall on the floor. But again I was happily surprised: spectators really let themselves be carried away, let them be overwhelmed. Afterwards, people told me that they were particularly impressed by the stillness of the production”.
In addition to Bow’s poetry and the stillness of MIRE, the seventeenth Holland Dance Festival also had a lot of powerful dance in store. To begin with the dazzling opening production Classy Classics, which included works by top choreographers William Forsythe, Marco Goecke and Ohad Naharin, performed with great verve and energy by the German Gauthier Dance.
“For us this was a new formula: where we always showed a combination of companies and dancers during the opening gala of previous festival editions, this time we opted for one company and that worked out very well. Also because Gauthier Dance is not only a high quality, but also an extremely versatile company. Personally, I was particularly happy that we were able to bring back Ohad Naharin’s iconic collage ballet Minus 16, 21 years after it had its world premiere at NDT 2, also during our festival”.
But Gauthier Dance was mainly about works that Wuersten has admired for years, and even a director who has been in service for 25 years can let himself be blown away. As with the performance Radical Impact by the American inclusion dance company AXIS. “As Holland Dance Festival we have already taken many important steps to increase the inclusivity of the performing arts, to allow people with and without disabilities to share the stage together. But what AXIS shows, beats everything: the professionalism, the joy of life, the energy, the belief in their work with which this company is building is ‘mind-blowing’. You also noticed this in the applause after the performances: people didn’t clap their hands from a feeling of ‘oh, how great of those people in a wheelchair or with another disability’, no, people were really deeply impressed’.
Another stunner was the performances of the North-African, constantly touring, dancer group of the French-Algerian Hervé Koubi, which were much applauded. “Koubi worked with some of the best urban dancers, but instead of just performing spectacular tricks, his performance Ce que le jour doit à la nuit also has something to offer in a penetrating way in terms of content. I am very happy that we were able to launch this company in the Netherlands”.
Holland Dance Festival 2022
The preparations for the new program are already in full swing. The coming edition we will yet again take you on a journey through the world of dance with both the absolute top and up-and-coming dance talent.