Tatyana Kuznetsova, respected Russian dance critic, asks: Why in such a small country like Holland, are there so many talented choreographers from different generations?
Lightfoot: Because in the Netherlands there was no ballet tradition. Clear field. The Dutch set up the first company 55 years ago – just decided it was time to get hold of their own ballet. And yet – they are very tolerant, open to any culture, it is a historical feature. When the Dutch colonialists plied the oceans in their ships, they did not destroy them in new countries, they absorbed everything, studying around. Unlike English, which was perceived as hostile to any foreign culture. Therefore, in the Netherlands, with such a mentality, it was very easy to create an international ballet company.
And of course, there is good financial support from the state. Maybe not the same as in Russia, but still two-thirds of the money our NDT receives from the country and the city of The Hague. The Dutch sometimes ask: “Why do you call the company “Dutch”, if you have only three or four Dutch members?” And I say: “Look, it is international, but it also is Dutch, in that you know how to respect and use the culture of other nations.” For me, a foreigner, this is a great place to live.
Paul Lightfoot, choreographer, since 2011 Artistic Director of the Ballet company of NDT – Netherlands Dans Theatre. Interview in March 2016, when Paul Lightfoot and Sol de León were staging one of their works in Bolshoi.
The outcome is a logical, direct consequence of the Culture policies in Netherlands, as much as its society attitude regarding Art.
The countries where Concert Dance was traditionally stronger face nowadays a chronic shortage of really great choreographic work: England, Italy, France, Russia. On the other hand, innovation is a constant in Netherlands, Scotland, Monaco, Germany…
Ms. Tatyana Kuznetsova says herself: Unfortunately or fortunately, our country is unlikely to repeat the fate of France: “Contemporary dance in Russia will not become popular. In France, two things coincided: first, the revolution of flowers in the ’60s, when the whole of society updated, requiring a different aesthetic and ethical life, and second, the active support of the state. To modern dance to became widespread in Russia, we need the demands of upper and lower classes to be completely different.”
Considering that Concert Dance is nowhere as loved as in Russia… sad!
The outcome THERE is, they have a shortage of choreographers not only in contemporary, but in classical and neoclassical too. Choreographers and Artistic Directores who try anything new, from choreography to scenery, face so strong an opposition that they usually give up after no more than 2 or 3 years.
You must be really hard-skinned to introduce change, as the tale of Vladimir Kekhman shows. He was able to turn Mikhailovsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg into a striving company, but innovation process was far less dynamic than he wanted. When he tried to do the same for Novosibirsk (Siberia), however, opposition was nothing less than furious.
In consequence, Russian companies, more often than not “import” works and choreographers when they decide to stage more up-to-date works – knowing they will meet supercilious disgust of a good part of the Dance community, and the complaints of dancers unused to move outside the classical standards.
Again… how sad that such a huge infrastructure, so much skilled professionals and a loving public are used just to perpetuate the past.