Annamarie is rehearsing for Young Talent Project

This has been an extraordinary year for Dance student Annamarie. In March 2020 she won a scholarship from the Dansersfonds ’79, and just a week later the corona restrictions took effect in the Netherlands. Annamarie, who is in year 6 of secondary school, will sit her final exams this year, and is meanwhile also busy rehearsing for the Young Talent Project with Nederlands Dans Theater.

Annamarie: ‘I have been dancing all my life. As a child I would dance in a princess’s dress in the living room with my parents and sisters, and when I was a little older I was allowed to go to a ballet school. I was dancing in a project for the Holland Dance Festival when I met a choreographer who advised me to do an audition with the Royal Conservatoire. I was so happy when I was accepted! I started at the Conservatoire three years ago, at the age of fifteen. It has been hard work. My body has had to adapt to the higher standard and the longer hours of dancing than I was used to. After a while, when I found that all the hard work was starting to pay off, I felt euphoric! Now I find it exhilirating to express myself in dance and to see that I am improving a little more every day in the dance movements.’

Dansersfonds ’79 scholarship
The objective of the Dansersfonds ’79 is to support dance in the Netherlands in general, and promising young dancers in particular. Every year, the Dansersfonds ’79 awards scholarships to students who are selected during an open class. ‘This year’s class was given by Han Ebbelaar, a renowned former dancer and the founder of the Dansersfonds ‘79. I was very nervous before the lesson, but as soon as we started I forgot about the jury and the other dancers around me and just enjoyed being taught by a fantastic role model like Han Ebbelaar. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted when I heard that I had won the scholarship. It was not just the money, which opens up opportunties for me, but also the confirmation it provided that I am genuinely talented and have potential. The confidence that others have shown in me has given me total confidence in myself.

My plan was to use the scholarship to attend the summer course of the English National Ballet in London during the summer. But that didn’t go ahead because of corona. Covid-19 has also forced the dance world to find ways to survive and continue functioning. Social distancing, without a stage and an audience in the theatre. I came to realise that the scholarship has even greater significance at a time like this. My hope now is to be able to audition for NDT’s Summer Intensive training programme in 2021, all going well in these uncertain times.’

Annamarie (left) during open lesson Dansersfonds '79

Young Talent Project
NDT and the Dance Department have been jointly organising the annual Young Talent Project since 2013 ‘It is a very busy period at the moment. As well as the rehearsals, we have a lot of school work and it is sometimes difficult to combine the two. But I am looking forward enormously to the performances and hope they can go ahead ‘live’. I have always thought that NDT is a fabulous company and hope to dance with it in the future. Getting to know the company so well through the Young Talent Project has only reinforced that desire. It is fantastic being able to rehearse with dancers from NDT. I am currently working with Toon Lobach, Fernando Troya and Marne van Opstal as coaches. It is so interesting to hear them describe the movements and their feel for them. I have learned that just a few words can make all the difference in how you perform a move. During the rehearsals I try to absorb as much of what they say as possible and incorporate it in my dancing. That is not only important for the piece we are working on, but also for my personal development.

I am dancing in Cacti, a work created by Alexander Ekman. I was really excited when we were told that we would be learning this piece. I had seen a performance of it by NDT a few years ago and was blown away by it. It is a dynamic work, but also has some quieter moments. It also includes some short duets. We don’t touch each other, but manipulate each other’s body from a distance, which is also a good metaphor for the period of quarantine we have been going through.

To me, dance represents a limitless and infinite space. Your body can move in so many ways, assume countless shapes and rhythms and change its dynamic. You are totally free in your body, but especially in your mind. You can express all your ideas, feelings and impressions in dance. Dance brings you together, which is also the feeling I get when we are performing Cacti. You share each other’s energy. The connection that is made is something really special. What is really exceptional is that this connection occurs without speech, the tool with which humans normally communicate.’

Annamarie during rehearsals for Cacti © Sacha Grootjans