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The Netherlands may be a small country, but there is a lot of dance going on. And not just in the theatres: on the country’s beaches, in castles, on rooftops and in church buildings, wherever you look you can find performances of modern dance. During festivals passers by often accidently stumble upon dance performances, for example while out shopping, or at railway stations. Dancers no longer hesitate at the thought of light-hearted, public guerrilla campaigns designed to draw the audience’s attention to the artistic infectiousness of choreographed movement. Dance companies – large and small – can often be seen in theatres and elsewhere. The quantity has increased steadily since the 1970s and 1980s, when there was an enormous wave of Dutch and Flemish dance that took to the stage. Back then choreographers such as Hans van Manen, Jirí Kylián, Rudi van Dantzig, Toer van Schayk, Krisztina de Châtel and Ed Wubbe were responsible for countless dance pieces, many of which are still in the repertoire to this day. Flemish choreographers such as Jan Fabre, Wim Vandekeybus, and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, followed by Alain Platel were to prove very influential. In neighbouring Germany, Pina Bausch and William Forsythe drew attention. All these artists were responsible for innovations that, in many forms and by means of many imitators, were reflected in dance and theatre. There are, for example, choreographers who started out as dancers with Jan Fabre (Emio Greco for instance) or who discovered improvisation with William Forsythe (such as Michael Schumacher). Additionally, there is a strong Dutch movement in conceptual dance, the school in which choreographers perpetually call the reigning principles of dance into question.

Many dance-makers come from renowned professional art study programmes in the Netherlands. Nanine Linning is possibly the most striking example of home-grown talent. This young, gifted choreographer had barely completed her studies at the Rotterdam Dance Academy when she was engaged by Scapino Ballet Rotterdam as their youngest-ever resident choreographer, and is now the artistic director of the dance company at the Osnabrück Theatre. For as well as being a richly varied stage landscape for dance, the Netherlands also has a number of high-quality study programmes, with a great diversity of styles that attract many international students. The Rotterdam Dance Academy, the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, the National Ballet Academy and, for example, the various specialised dance programmes offered by the Theatre school in Amsterdam, enjoy a good reputation far beyond the Netherlands. The SNDO, (School for New Dance Developments) attracts those students from around the World who wish to be trained in conceptual dance.

Dance workshops and production houses such as Korzo Theater en Dansmakers Amsterdam complement the academies, stages and festivals. Here, young choreographers are offered the chance to develop their own voice and language, under supervision. Their precocious productions find their way to adventurous audiences at a loose network of small theatres.