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Young Talent Project 2021

A unique collaboration

The Young Talent Project , a unique collaboration between the Dance Department of the Royal Conservatoire (RC) and Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), had its ninth edition in 2021. 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.

The performances were planned to take place on December 2 through 5, for the very first time in our new house Amare, The Hague. Unfortunately, we had to cancel these performances due to the new measures that were announced by the Dutch government on November 26 to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Of course we were very saddened by this news. We do like to still share with the audience what all students and staff have been working on for the past few months. Therefore, on this page you will learn more about what the project entails, you can read what the students worked on during the project, how they experienced this and you will find photos and videos of the project. We hope you enjoy!

Covervideo: Justin Bekker. Coverphoto: Sacha Grootjans

This year's edition

The Young Talent Project 2021 took place from September until December. During this period, the students worked closely with dancers, teachers, choreographers and coaches affiliated with NDT to become acquainted with the company’s methods. Students from HBO 4 and the KCDE (The Royal Conservatoire Dance Ensemble), HBO 3 and AVO participated in the project.

The students work on learning NDT repertoire every year. This edition, the students rehearsed an excerpt from Bliss by Johan Inger, originally created for the company Aterballetto in Italy, as well as Handman by Edward Clug, created for NDT 2 in 2016.

In addition to the existing repertoire, all groups worked on a new creation with three choreographers: Antonin Rioche, Christie Partelow and Paxton Ricketts.

The young dance students of HBO 4 and KCDE were also challenged in creating their own work under the guidance of coaches Astrid Boons, Alice Godfrey and Christie Partelow.

Read more about how several participants ofYTP 2021 have experienced this special and extensive process below.

'Handman' by Edward Clug. Photo: Sacha Grootjans.
Jan Linkens, Director of the Dance Department Royal Conservatoire, about this year’s edition:

“The 9th edition of the Young Talent Project presents us with new challenges again this year. There are still Corona measures that we need to take into account and performing in Amare for the first time forms an extra challenge. Over the past few weeks we have worked incredibly hard for the repertoire by Johan Inger and Edward Clug and the new creations by Christie Partelow, Paxton Ricketts and Antonin Rioche to be performed. I thank everyone for their work, commitment and creativity to take this valuable project to the next level.”

'Handman' by Edward Clug. Photo: Sacha Grootjans

Experiences of the students

What was it like for the students to immerse themselves in NDT’s working method for over 3 months?

Floortje Steen

about the repertoire:

“I love that with Young Talent Project we have the opportunity to rehearse existing repertoire. This year we are learning excerpts from Bliss by Johan Inger and from Handman by Edward Clug. The two pieces have very different styles. The challenge for me is to pick up the different movement qualities and apply them to the choreography. The instructive part is that these new qualities are a source of inspiration for your further dance development and enrich your own dance language.

The rehearsal directors play a big role in this of course. They have so much knowledge about the movements which they pass on to us with so much passion and that has a very encouraging effect. They also teach us what it is to be a professional dancer by sharing their personal experience. I am very grateful to the rehearsal directors for how they have changed my view of dance forever.”

Floortje in 'Handman' by Edward Clug. Photo: Sacha Grootjans.

Alicia Vaseo

about the coaching sessions:

“The Young Talent Project is without a doubt, one of the most exhilarating times of the year for the students of the Koninklijk Conservatorium. This three-month project is so valuable as it has taught me that the process is far more important than the result. This year, as well as being involved in learning Bliss by Johan Inger, Handman by Edward Clug and If Only The Sea Could Sleep by Antonin Rioche, I was also given the opportunity to experience being a choreographer. Exploring endless ideas in collaboration with three of my passionate classmates to create a work is something that I’ll remember forever. Having a taste of what it is like to create has really opened my eyes, as I got to see a piece develop from a position I’ve never been in before. Yet, it it’s more than just a piece. It has become a snapshot of my creativity and personality that I can share with the audience. The guidance of the coaches, the freedom to experiment and the amazing atmosphere amongst everyone involved has been so inspiring to be a part of.”

Alicia in rehearsals for Antonin's new creation. Photo: Sacha Grootjans

Floris Puts

About working on a new creation by Christie partelow:

“The Young Talent Project is an incredibly educational project for me, it has taught me so much about professional dance life. It is great to work with my group and with Christie on this project. Because Christie is creating a piece for us, we can also be very involved in the creative work process and that is so insightful.

The past two months have been incredibly instructive and special for me and I have changed positively as a dancer, and I also see that my group has progressed a lot and we have become closer. This project has shown me how wonderful it is to dance professionally.”

'Mind the Gap' by Christie Partelow. Photo: Sacha Grootjans.

A glimpse in the studios

Antonin Rioche about 'If only the sea could sleep'

Antonin Rioche

Choreographer new creation HBO 4 + KCDE
Antonin created a piece with the students of HBO 4 + KCDE:

“I have been a spectator of this beautiful project for a few years, and I have always been touched and impressed by the dancers’ maturity in NDT’s repertoire. So it has been a big honor to work and create with the students of the Royal Conservatoire.

It has been really meaningful to me to see the students grow, session after session, towards the goal of this performance but not only. I think the challenge with this type of project is to balance teaching tools and creativity to create something with the dancers, where they can grow and show a little bit more of themselves every day, it’s also about who they are at the moment and who they want to become as a performer. At this age there is this precious moment of transition between the students evolving into a dancer, and I have to try to accompany them towards this way.

The piece is titled If only the sea could sleep, inspired by the work of Claire Tabouret, who is my favorite painter. From there, I wrote a poetic text about the time that crumbles under our feet every step we take. On the other hand, I was also inspired by the waves as a metronome of the piece. This sea that never sleeps. On stage, the dancers arrive alone first, they will then find themselves and connect as a group, and finally walk away toward their pass individually.”

Antonin in the studio working with a student. Photo: Sacha Grootjans

Christie Partelow about 'Mind the Gap'

Christie Partelow

Choreographer new creation AVO | Coach own creations students
Christie created a new work with the students of AVO:

“For me it started as the space between the train and the platform edge; between going somewhere and where you are right now, taking the same safe traversed path to destinations known, versus what it would mean to take a step over that gap towards the unknown. We’ve been diving into the concept of minding the gap; respecting the space between here and there, you and another, the ground and sky, known and unknown, between dreams and what we know as our reality; a space made by difference, yet often disguised as division. Then diving right into that gap.

As a process, we’ve explored the possibilities of approaching movement and life in various ways. Maintaining a playfulness within our developed intelligence and intuition. We’ve sought flow within structure and a groundedness while floating amongst the unknown. We’re here on earth right now and at the same time, this is the dream. Not day without night, not gripping without letting go, maybe it’s the allowing of all that is which grants us this space to play, to create.

This has been my first opportunity as a choreographer for stage, and some of the students’ first time in a creative process, offering us the chance to discover what it means to explore somewhere new together. I’m honoured by their openness and to witness their development. I thank NDT & KC for the experience and each individual for diving in with me.”

Christie working on her creation. Photo: Sacha Grootjans

do we take the ride when we’re not sure it’s going where we want to end up
what if we did anyway
    ..took a leap 

to somewhere between you and I
the form and the formless
the known and unknown
   body and mind
ground and sky
Fight and flight
light and dark 

reality and dreams 

of both here and there 

as there was always here, and here never came to be without there 

mind the gap …. 

– Christie Partelow

'Mind the Gap' by Christie Partelow. Photo: Sacha Grootjans.

Paxton Ricketts about 'Applause a pause abyss'

Paxton Ricketts

Choreographer new creation HBO 3
Paxton created a new piece together with the students of HBO 3:

“We began our creation by talking. Sharing and getting to know each other. Many of the dancers had never been in creations for new work before. So building common ground and a safe space for communication was very important for me. My hope with this process was to help them develop tools that would be useful in creative processes in the future. I wanted to encourage them to develop their own creative voices. This is one of the most important tools a dancer can develop; what they can offer that is unique to them.

We also started by talking about the broad subject of “endings”. What are they? How do they make us feel? Together, through conversations and shared writings, we found some questions that we were interested in asking in this piece. Simultaneously we developed the movement vocabulary together, finding the physical language for the piece. It was a construction done in cooperation.

In the end, the result that we share on stage is the consequence of the process. This is self-evident. But we were fortunate to have the room to place more value on the process itself. The performance is a step along the way of that process.”

Coaching the students in making their own creations

Besides working on existing repertoire and on new creations by choreographers, the students have also worked on creating their own choreographies. In this process, they were coached by several artists affiliated with NDT: choreographer Astrid Boons, who will present her work during this year’s Keuze van Korzo en NDT, and former NDT dancers Christie Partelow and Alice Godfrey.

Astrid Boons

Coach own creations students
Astrid tells a bit more about this process:

“We started this coaching program of Young Talent Project by giving some workshops. During these workshops, the students were given various ‘tools’ to start working on their own creation. The focus was on questions such as: How to find your own choreographic voice? How to create movement material? How to shape an idea into a dance piece? After this, the students got to work and I guided two students through their creation process.

For most students this is the first time they are creating their own work and sometimes there is some uncertainty involved. As a coach, I try to take away that uncertainty so that it does not get in the way of their creativity. I also support them in the making process by asking questions so that the students reflect on what they are making. Is the piece in line with the idea they had in mind? Or did they just take a completely different turn? It is very nice for me to be involved in their process and to take a look into their world.”

Photography by Sacha Grootjans

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

View all photos in the gallery.

'If only the sea could sleep' by Antonin Rioche. Photo: Sacha Grootjans
'If only the sea could sleep' by Antonin Rioche. Photo: Sacha Grootjans

The team

The team of the Young Talent Project 2021 existed out of dancers and former dancers from NDT and choreographers affiliated with NDT. For three months they worked intensively with the students several times a week in the studios of the Royal Conservatoire.

an overview of everyone who participated in Young Talent Project 2021:

Antonin Rioche

Choreographer new creation HBO 4 + KCDE

Jochem Eerdekens

Assistant new creation HBO 4 + KCDE

Paxton Ricketts

Choreographer new creation HBO 3

Georgi Milev

Assistant new creation HBO 3

Christie Partelow

Choreographer new creation AVO | Coach own creations students

Mariette Redel

Assistant new creation AVO | Assistant repetitor 'Bliss'

Yvan Dubreuil

Repetitor 'Bliss'

Aya Misaki

Repetitor 'Handman'

Alice Godfrey

Coach own creations students | Assistant repetitor 'Handman'

Astrid Boons

Coach own creations students

Photo Antonin Rioche: Feriet
Photo Jochem Eerdekens: Joery Erna
Photo Paxton Ricketts: Rahi Rezvani
Photo Georgi Milev: Joris-Jan Bos
Photo Christie Partelow: Joris-Jan Bos
Photo Aya Misaki: Rahi Rezvani
Photo Alice Godfrey: Rahi Rezvani
Photo Astrid Boons: de Schaapjesfabriek

Overview participating students


  • Lila Berkenbosch
  • Salomé van ’t Hoog
  • Ezra Polderman
  • Rosa Rotmans
  • Alessia Vogelzang
  • Noah Prins
  • Floris Puts
  • Florijn Roos
  • Simon van Schothorst
  • Wouter Smit
  • Jasmijn Gorter
  • Marla Molenaar
  • Max de Graaf
  • Jasey Harders

HBO 3, 4 + KCDE

  • Colette Blake
  • Floortje Steen
  • Boaz Molenkamp
  • Femmie Packbier
  • Annakha Flos
  • Faile Bakker
  • Esmee Boevink
  • Annamarie Westrik
  • Hiroki Inokuchi
  • Alicia Vaseo
  • Pascalle Opentij
  • Nanaho Kugawa
  • Samanja Flos
  • Hinako Yukimoto