Demi's internship with NDT

Demi has been a student in the Royal Conservatoire’s Dance department for almost ten years. She entered the School for Young Talent in group 7 of primary school and eventually obtained her VWO diploma. She is now in the second year of the Bachelor programme. In the 2020/21 academic year, she will start the final stage of her education by doing an internship with the Nederlands Dans Theater. We spoke to her about the Dance department, the NDT and her dreams for the future.

Motivation and determination
‘I couldn’t believe my ears when my name was called out. I went into the audition just hoping to make a good impression. I was determined not to give myself false hope, because I knew how small the chance was that I would actually be offered a place. But with every round I advanced, my motivation and determination to win the internship increased. I was so happy and relieved when I was chosen. It still feels a bit unreal.’ At the beginning of this year, Demi auditioned for an internship with the NDT. Having won it, she will spend an entire season working with the company during the 2020/21 academic year.

Demi describes the audition: ‘The NDT is a very popular company, so applicants first have to send in a video. The company then selects the candidates who will be invited to do an audition. My audition began with a ballet lesson at 10.30 in the morning. This was followed by a repertoire workshop, in which we learned a work by Crystal Pite and then performed it for the jury. Only a few of us were selected to go on to the next round, in which we again studied a work from the repertoire – this time a difficult and relatively long piece by Marco Goecke. Once again, a number of candidates were then eliminated. In the final round, the remaining candidates performed a modern solo they had choreographed themselves. It was around ten o’clock that night before the names of the winning candidates were announced. We then had an interview with the artistic director, so it was after eleven o’clock before I finally left the building.’

Unforgettable moments
Demi was nine years old when she auditioned for the Dance department’s orientation course on the advice of her dance teacher. She still had no idea what she wanted to do with her life, but did know that she loved dancing! When she heard that there was a school where she could combine dancing with regular school, she was almost immediately sold. ‘The first thing that comes to me when I think of the Dance department is what a good atmosphere there is and how safe I feel here. Everyone shares the same passion and experiences the same obstacles. As a result, you form very close friendships. And you certainly need them in such an intensive course.’

Demi has many pleasant memories and there have been some unforgettable moments: ‘I performed twice in front of Princess Beatrix. And this year I represented the school, together with a girlfriend, in a project for Prix de Lausanne, one of the most important ballet competitions in the world. But the events that have made the deepest impression on me are the Young Talent Projects with the NDT. Every year, the time spent working on NDT repertoire with the company’s coaches, dancers and choreographers was the most instructive and most enjoyable period for me.’

Valuable lessons
Through the Dance department and the Young Talent Project, Demi became familiar with the NDT’s repertoire. ‘I am so grateful to the people we were able to work with every year. I have learned so many valuable lessons from them. With their extraordinary vision of dance and physicality, but also of life itself, being taught by them was inspirational. Every year I felt that I was making enormous progress, both mentally and physically, during the roughly three months of the Young Talent Project. Having the opportunity to continue that process for a whole year during the internship is a dream come true for me.’

Keeping on learning and growing
And the future? ‘I am certain that I will learn an enormous amount during the internship, not only about the NDT’s repertoire, but also about myself as a dancer and a person. In any case, I will discover what it is like to be a member of a dance company and to work as a professional dancer with choreographers. I am also looking forward to getting to know the other dancers and learning from them. I find it difficult to say what the future holds for me. There are so many factors that influence a dancer’s career. You don’t know where life will take you. But at the moment my hope is eventually to secure a contract with the NDT or another modern dance company. In any case, somewhere I feel at home, but can also step out of my comfort zone and keep on learning and growing.’

Foto: Demi during Young Talent Project 2019 © Sacha Grootjans