We see the dancer in anyone who joins us!

We see the dancer in anyone who joins us!

Dossier | Cultural education

Since the early years, innovation has been the only constant factor at NDT. With the arrival of Emily Molnar, Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) is treading new paths in creating the dance company of the future. With a new era, new leadership and a new building, new questions are therefore posed about what dance means today: why do we dance? The creation and presentation of (new) work play a major role in this, but education is also given a more central place under Molnar’s leadership. Since August 2020, Eva Monen has been leading the Talent Development & Education department, which, in close collaboration with her team, develops a new vision on the importance, form and diversity of dance education in which imagination in dance is central. In this article you will gain more insight into the vision and goals set by this ambitious department within NDT.

What do we do?

At NDT we develop educational projects in which the imagination and experience of dance is central. As cultural education makers, we create an approach for each target group that suits their experience world, challenges them, inspires them and establishes a relationship with the work of the dancers and choreographers of NDT. The expressiveness of the human body is the starting point as the most important instrument for creation. In line with NDT’s interdisciplinary approach, this often takes place in collaboration with audiovisual, music and visual artists.

An example is the extracurricular cultural education program Uitblinkers!. Children are given the opportunity to discover their own creativity through their imagination in dance and by designing their own set or costumes. The focus is not on the form or on a concrete result, but highlights which directions the children want and can grow in. As a result, they discover their own values as well as each other’s and become aware of their own abilities.

Another example is the typical CKV class (CKV stands for ‘Culturele en Kunstzinnige vorming’ which loosely translates to Cultural and Artistic Education class) where youngsters often start the workshop with a certain prejudice, but slowly thaw during the activity, once they experience that their input also matters. We have regularly seen them secretly wipe away their tears during that evening’s performance that they got to attend as part of the class.

In essence, we focus on developing cultural competences among all our participants. For children and youngsters in education, dance enthusiasts and dance students who want to become proficient in dance and for groups of people who have never come into contact with dance art before.

Our workshops, courses and projects focus on dance as a creative medium and demand imagination and dance pleasure from the participants, often related to a specific piece from NDT’s repertoire.

Take for example the NDT education apps that have been specially developed for teachers and children of primary education grades 3 and 4 and grades 5 and 6. The apps are based on selected works from the NDT repertoire: Parade by Crystal Pite, and Dreamplay by Johan Inger, and children learn to create dance themselves via the smartboard in their own classroom.

Moving together in groups gives a sense of belonging, creates energy between people and thus creates a feeling of happiness and security.

    At Talent Development & Education we always establish a connection with the current dance repertoire of NDT, the choreographers and the rich tradition of the company, but also with the dancers of NDT 1 and NDT 2, the people from the technical department, and/or audiovisual department and the costume atelier.

    In our educational activities we deepen the experience of the audience, during the introductions that are hosted prior to our dance performances. Or during the online Open Studio masterclasses around the live stream performances in which (upcoming) dance professionals from all over the world learn movement fragments collectively from the current dance repertoire and discuss the profession of being a dancer under the guidance of NDT dancers. In all our activities we ensure a sincere and meaningful connection between the repertoire and the person who sees and experiences it at that moment.

    NDT 1 dancer Luca Tessarini during an online edition of NDT Open Studio. Photo: Sacha Grootjans
    Dance connects

    Dance has the special power to connect people. It is not without reason that people all over the world dance to celebrate their mutual connection! Moving together in groups gives a sense of belonging, creates energy between people and thus creates a feeling of happiness and security. A wonderful example of this was a group of adults during an introductory workshop in our studios, who learned to move together as one organism through contact improvisation in style of NDT’s associate choreographer Crystal Pite.

    A workshop in AZC de Bazaar. Photo: Sacha Grootjans.

    We see precisely this interconnectedness in doing and making dance together as a powerful medium in a world that is increasingly dominated by communication technology that has caused a rapid decline of physical activity due to the increase in screen use, which of course now, due to COVID, has escalated.

    At NDT we believe that education in dance stimulates people. With a unique combination of direct non-verbal interaction, movement and creativity, it affects human well-being in profound ways and gives it an opportunity to develop positively. And because every person has the ability to give meaning to movement, we create dance education for a wide variety of target groups, from ambitious young professionals to older beginners. We see the dancer in anyone who joins us!