Young Talent Project 2020

A special edition

The Young Talent Project , a unique collaboration between the  Dance Department of the Royal Conservatoire (RC) and Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), had its eight edition this year. With the Young Talent Project, NDT and RC attempt to make a valuble contribution to the bridging period between being a dance student and a professional dancer. Getting a grip on creative processes, the collaboration between choreographer and dancer, and the various movement languages ​​within a company require a certain understanding and empathy. It is therefore essential that in addition to the further development of technical dance skills, the professional development of dance students is guided too. The Young Talent Project plays an important role in providing that information and experience.

We are proud of the collaboration between the Royal Conservatoire and Nederlands Dans Theater and of this process that inspires the students and provides an extra drive for artistic growth. Our thanks go to all – both in front of and behind the scenes – who contributed to this.

Despite the fact that the performances are not open to the public this year, we still want to share the story of this special edition of 2020 with you in this way. On this page you can read what the students worked on during the project, how they experienced this and you will find photos of the project. We hope you enjoy!

The 8th edition of Young Talent Project. This year everything is different. From preparation time to changing locations to dancing without an audience, we have had to make a lot of changes in the process recently. I proudly look back on the strength, perseverance and flexibility that the students, repetitors and employees have shown to get this edition done during the corona period. My thanks to Crystal Pite, Alexander Ekman and Marne van Opstal for the confidence in all of us to allow this inspiring project to take place.

Jan Linkens
Director of the Dance Department Royal Conservatoire

What have the students worked on?

The Young Talent Project 2020 took place from September until November. During this period, the students worked closely with dancers, teachers, choreographers and coaches affiliated with NDT to become acquainted with the company’s methods.

Every year the students learn NDT repertoire. During this edition, an excerpt from Cacti , which Alexander Ekman created for NDT 2 in 2010, and an excerpt from Crystal Pite’s NDT 1 ballet The Second Person (2007) were rehearsed.

In addition, the students worked on a new creation with choreographer and former NDT dancer Marne van Opstal.

This edition, for the first time, the young dance students also created their own work under the guidance of coaches. These were former NDT dancers and choreographers Ève-Marie Dalcourt, Spencer Dickhaus and Lukas Timulak.

During presentations for fellow students, the students of the Dance Department will perform the NDT repertoire they learned, the new creation by Marne van Opstal and their own creations.

Photo: Sacha Grootjans.

The students' own creations

This part of Young Talent Project is set up to stimulate the creative ability of the students. During this process, students work with coaches who provide them with tools to create their own work. The coaches function as a sounding board for the students during this project. By asking questions during consultation hours, the students reflect on the choices they have made for their own work. As a result, the students learn to substantiate their choices, and at the same time are challenged to explore other possibilities for their work and to see opportunities.

All students have written a short text about their own creation. Photographer Sacha Grootjans also took beautiful portraits of all the choreographing students.

View all portraits and the stories of the dancers here.

Marne van Opstal about his creation 'Sweet Tooth'

“After the many challenges the students faced recently, it was important for us to allow them to step into this new creation by reconnecting to dance through their pleasure and spirit. At the same time giving them the sense of a real creation process by preparing them for the professional field. It was a pleasure to connect with a new generation of talent, being able to share some insight and information. It has been beautiful to see how receptive, creative and open minded they were throughout the process, allowing space for both insecurity and determination. Sweet Tooth hopes to speak to a sense of belonging. A necessity to support and connect to a shared experience and the need to dream and wonder.”

Experiences of the students

What was it like for the students to immerse themselves in NDT’s working method for 2 months?

Elaine (on the right) in 'The Second Person' by Crystal Pite. Photo: Sacha Grootjans.
Jelle-Johannes (on the left) in 'Sweet Tooth' by Marne van Opstal. Photo: Sacha Grootjans.
Annamarie (in front) in 'Cacti' by Alexander Ekman. Photo: Sacha Grootjans.
Elaine Meijerink:

“This year the Young Talent Project is more about self-development in creativity and personality of the students themselves with the extra component that older fellow students have made choreographies for us. At the start of the project, we received more workshops from designated NDT coaches. The diversity of this year is so inspiring for me and it has taught me even more about certain dance instruments and dance qualities. It was also very thrilling and memorable to be able to work with Marne and Xanthe. Marne was able to teach us many tricks about life as a dancer and the dynamics within a company. He really took the Young Talent Project to the next level where we as young dancers during Covid-19 are even closer to the real life of a dancer.”

Jelle-Johannes Hendrix:

“The Young Talent Project is the most interesting and exciting event of the year! We come together with so many talented teachers and students to work on the most astounding dance pieces. This project is extremely important to us, Bachelor students, because for two months straight we can get a taste of what it’s like to be a professional dancer. This brought us closer together, we learned from each other and we grew even more in our dancing experience. Personally, the YTP made me reach new heights, emotionally and physically. Such a great adventure to be a part of!”

Annamarie Westrik:

“I love rehearsing with dancers from NDT. I now work with Toon Lobach and Fernando Troya, and Marne van Opstal. It is so interesting to hear how they describe and experience the movements. I’ve learned that a few words can make a difference in the way you perform the movement. During the rehearsals I try to absorb their information as much as possible and to use it in my dancing. This is not only important for the choreography we are working on, but also for my own development.”

Read the full interview on the website of RC

Photography by Sacha Grootjans

Photo: Sacha Grootjans.

During the rehearsals, photographer Sacha Grootjans took beautiful photos of the students in action.

View more photos in the photo gallery.


In case you are interested in the photos as a parent of one of the students, or have you become curious about the work of Sacha Grootjans? Then click here.

Photo: Sacha Grootjans.
Photo: Sacha Grootjans.
Photo: Sacha Grootjans.

Het team

The team of the Young Talent Project 2020 existed out of dancers and former dancers from NDT and choreographers affiliated with NDT. For two months they worked intensively with the students several times a week in the studios of the Royal Conservatoire.

Below is an overview of everyone who participated in this year’s edition of Young Talent Project:

Ève-Marie Dalcourt


Spencer Dickhaus

Yvan Dubreuil

repetitor 'The Second Person'

Toon Lobach

repetitor 'Cacti'

Xanthe van Opstal

assistant Marne van Opstal

Mariëtte Redel

repetitor 'The Second Person'

Jiří Pokorný

repetitor 'The Second Person'

Lukas Timulak


Fernando Troya

repetitor 'Cacti'


ABN AMRO sponsors game changers. People who want to achieve something, go-getters. They see these people as the driving force behind our society, because they also inspire others to groundbreaking achievements.

As Founding Partner of NDT, ABN AMRO takes responsibility to encourage, stimulate and celebrate the passion of young dancers and the company. In addition to general support for the two pillars of NDT, creation and talent development, ABN AMRO also specifically supports the Young Talent Project.

NDT greatly values the cooperation and involvement of all parties who support the company and contribute to the development of young talent and therefore thanks ABN AMRO for their support.