Nederlands Dans Theater
The consequences of World War II resonated well after liberation, most notably in a growing contention of traditional power hierarchies. By 1950 anti-authoritarianism had gained significant momentum in Europe, as did a wave of unprecedented cultural and intellectual exchange. The Netherlands now regularly played host to international choreographers, dancers and teachers whose collective influence only strengthened the drive for a new, more democratic vision of dance. It was in this context that sixteen dancers from the Netherlands Ballet initiated their rebellion against the so-called ‘tyrannical regime’ of Sonia Gaskell. The founding of the Nederlands Dans Theater is one of the most infamous stories in Dutch dance history, and definitive of its socio-political zeitgeist. No longer satisfied with the authoritarian culture of ballet’s establishment, the founders of NDT envisioned a company in the spirit of its time, one in which all hierarchies would be abolished and ballet would embrace modernity. The first program included work by Rudi van Dantzig, Benjamin Harkarvy and Hans van Manen and set course for one of the most significant and progressive dance companies in the world.