Always in the vanguard of experimentation, Nederlands Dans Theater made its debut on the world stage in 1959 partly in rebellion against Nederlands Ballet (a precuror of the institution now known as Dutch National Ballet). The company started out by producing a handful of new, classically-based contemporary ballets each year. The interest in American modern dance was underlined by works from John Butler, Glen Tetley and Anna Sokolow in the first decade, Jennifer Muller and Louis Falco in the second. In 1970 Tetley collaborated with Hans van Manen on Mutations, which gained notoriety for its non-exploitative nude sequences.
In 1973 the then-artistic director Jaap Flier invited Jiří Kylián to choreograph a ballet for NDT. Two years later Kylián ended his career as a dancer with Stuttgart Ballet to become the Dutch troupe’s co-artistic director and resident dance-maker. Three years after that he took over the directorship completely, gradually transforming NDT into what has become universally recognised as one of Europe’s most attractive and successful large-scale dance troupes.
Although he stepped down as director in 1999, Kylián retained the role of artistic advisor until 2005. Marian Sarstädt, another former NDT dancer and director of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, led the company until Anders Hellström’s 2004 appointment.
Nederlands Dans Theater 2
NDT2 grew out of Springboard, founded in 1977 to bridge the gap for dancers hovering between school age and full-fledged professional status. In 1982 this group was rechristened The Juniors, and in 1987 it became NDT2. The current executive artistic director is Gerald Tibbs. With 16 dancers aged between 17 and 23, NDT2 feeds the main company with young blood. In a similarly evolutionary manner, since 1991 members of NDT1 who are over forty but feeling not at all past their onstage sell-by date can channel their energies into NDT3. The latter provides a unique platform for mature dancers to continue to display their expressiveness and skill. Unfortunately, in 2006, Management and Board of NDT decided that NDT3 would not be continued. This is because there is not enough structural subsidy to keep up the activities of NDT3 as a permanent part of the company.
Both NDT1 and NDT2 live closely together in NDT’s specially-built headquarters in the Hague, complete with a thousand-seat theatre. There NDT2’s members soon become familiar with the working methods and philosophy of the sleek, sure-footed main company while additionally benefiting from exposure to the seasoned talents in NDT3.
Through the years NDT2 has developed into a top quality ensemble in its own right, performing to great acclaim in theatres throughout the world. Audiences in such countries as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, China, Denmark, the Dutch Antilles, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States have been dazzled and delighted by the company’s fresh spirit, and tickled or challenged by its hugely varied repertoire.
NDT2’s roster of works includes dances by Jiří Kylián and many other pieces specially-created by current or former members from the main company, such as Nacho Duato, Paul Lightfoot , Lionel Hoche, Johan Inger, Sol León, Lukáš Timulak, Medhi Walerski, and Alexander Ekman. The company’s bank of dances also contains works by celebrated guest choreographers like Hans van Manen and Ohad Naharin.