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Hans van Manen (1932)

When you search for Hans van Manen you will find 9 out of 10 times that he is one of the most influential choreographers from our time. He had a lilfe time career with the ” Nationaal Ballet”, but search a little bit more you wioll find a very talented photographer. He started with photography in the early Eighties and was at that time very much influenced by Robert Mapplethorpe and photographs from these days show many resemblances. Later he met Erwin Olaf and they both admired each others works and photographed each other on many occasions.

 This career in photography is still far less important than his career with the Nationaal Ballet, but i would not be surprised if van Manen would become much more famous for his photographs by a far larger audience than with his ballets.

Although the ballets by Hans van Manen (Amsterdam, 1932) seem simple by their abstraction, they are certainly not. The award-winning choreographer requires risk, vitality and swing. He owes his nickname Mondriaan of Dance to the optimal use of space and a clear introduction of the dancers on stage. His humor lifts the tone of his work and appeals to a large audience. Although Van Manen cannot read scores, he ‘reads’ compositions and ‘listens’ to dance like no other.

In 1951 Van Manen started his career with Sonia Gaskell’s Ballet Recital. The year after, he joined the Nederlandse Opera Ballet, where he choreographed his first work Feestgericht (1957). Then he joined Roland Petit’s company in Paris. From 1960 to 1971 Van Manen was associated with NDT as a dancer (until 1963), choreographer and (from 1961) as artistic leader. In this period Van Manen blossomed as a choreographer. In 1973 he joined Het Nationale Ballet as a choreographer and producer, after two years of freelancing.

From 1988 to 2003 Hans van Manen returned to NDT as a resident choreographer. He remains available to NDT for rehearsing and updating existing repertoire. His oeuvre now comprises more than 120 ballets (62 of which for NDT), each bearing his unmistakable signature. His most recent creations for NDT are Short Cut (NDT 1, 1999), Two Gold Variations (NDT 1, 1999), Trilogie (NDT 1, 2000), Two Faces (NDT3, 2000), Simple Things (NDT2, 2001) and Monologue, Dialogue (NDT 1, 2003). Hans van Manen created Situation especially for the company in 1970. The ballet returns in the NDT 1 program Soir Historique (2019).

from left to right : photo’s by Mapplethorpe, Erwin Olaf and Erwin Olaf

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