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Reprieve for Dutch dance?

Posted on June 17, 2011

dutch national ballet 4tempb 496 credit angela sterling

dutch national ballet 4tempb_496_credit_angela_sterlingHalbe Zijlstra, the Dutch State Secretary for Culture, has announced his plans for spending cuts. In these new proposals, the country’s two leading dance companies, Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater, emerge largely unscathed.


As we reported in May, dance companies had faced drastic cuts under the Dutch Council for Culture’s advice on reduced subsidies. Nederlands Dans Theater was threatened with a 40–50 per cent cut and a downgrade from “international” to “regional” status, while Dutch National Ballet faced a cut of 26 per cent. Both companies launched petitions, gaining international expressions of support.


Zijlstra’s new proposals reject the Council for Culture’s advice, cutting just 5 per cent and leaving NDT its current international status. However, Holland Symfonia, DNB’s regular orchestra, faces a considerable cut.


“Nederlands Dans Theater is extremely pleased that the overwhelming support we have received from within the Netherlands and overseas has indeed been listened to,” said artistic director Jim Vincent. The new situation, he added, “enables us to continue to fulfil our role internationally, within the Netherlands and in The Hague.” He thanked everyone who showed their support by signing the petition.


“It is commendable that the State Secretary has dared to choose for top quality,” said Dutch National Ballet’s managing director, Stijn Schoonderwoerd. “The fact that our regular orchestra partner has been hit so hard is very sad indeed. As we give all our performances with live music, it is incredibly important that there is a high-quality orchestra in the pit. It is difficult to see how we can guarantee that, in view of these cuts to the orchestra.” Schoonderwoerd added that the company “still do not know what our other subsidiser, the City of Amsterdam, will do, as they will be announcing their plans for cutbacks in the autumn.”


Zijlstra’s plans have still to be approved by the Dutch House of Commons, which will debate cultural policy on June 27.


Picture: Alexander Zymbrovski and Igone de Jongh of Dutch National Ballet. Photograph: Angela Sterling.

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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