And so they are. Although they are stars in a different sphere to that of the Amsterdam Arena. It won’t be the first discovery of the evening. Many mouths hang open, for instance, when ex-dancer Altin says that he had to sit in the wig and make-up room three hours before the performance to get a wig glued on, when principal Anu talks about her six-day working week, and when John describes the sufferings that injured dancers share with him on the physio table. Or when Oliver from the costume department explains that pointe shoes smell nice when you put them in the oven, because they’re made of flour and shellac.
I’m enjoying myself. There’s nothing nicer than taking a group on a tour of The Amsterdam Music Theatre and showing them the hidden treasures of the Dutch National Ballet. And especially this group. They are people we know are fans of our company or of art and culture. And they’re not here by chance, as tonight’s the night we’re launching our new ‘Geefkringen’ (donor circles), and we hope that they’ll consider supporting the Dutch National Ballet by becoming a member of one of the circles. You don’t need to be a millionaire to do so, as giving a thousand Euros a year for five years entitles you to call yourself a member of the Corps de Ballet. Between five and ten thousand entitles you to the rank of Coryphee, and for ten thousand or more you can proudly claim to be a Principal with the Dutch National Ballet. These amounts are gross, as the tax benefits of the new donation Act mean that the net effect is much more attractive for the donor.
Many cultural organisations have similar ‘circles’, ‘rooms’ or ‘clubs’, some of which have been around for many years already. And they generate lots of money; money that could also have been put to good use for our art form. So the Dutch National Ballet has to take this important step in becoming more active in the battle for private funding. But it won’t happen just like that, as the average ballet audience has less ‘old money’ among them than, say, the audience of the Concertgebouw Orchestra’s B series. And as we are entering the market relatively late in the day, many donors have already lost their heart to another organisation. On the other hand, we do have something very special to offer. Whereas most of our competitors ask their donors mainly for support for material things – the maintenance of a building or the acquisition of a painting – we have real-life people ‘on offer’. Igone and Casey, for example, who are dancing the White Swan pas de deux tonight for the breathless spectators and thus proving everything I said in my speech about top quality and exceptional talent.
Another stop on the potential donors’ guided tour is the wings, where a rehearsal of Swan Lake is taking place on stage. The dancers and technicians don’t even look up anymore. They’re used to far worse than this. Earlier in the week, 250 amateur photographers were walking around during rehearsals, taking part in the photo competition we organised in conjunction with the newspaper Het Parool (7 weeks of media attention!). Incidentally, it’s incredible how many decibels are produced by hundreds of cameras clicking at the same time.
Unlike the photographers, who had to stay behind the tapes we had set up, the potential donors could watch the rehearsal from close up. And so I see them mingling with the extras on the palace steps in the first act of Swan Lake. Then they’ll be able to go home and tell people they’ve stood on the stage of The Amsterdam Music Theatre. And that’s only one small step away from joining the Corps de Ballet or the Principals. Isn’t it? We hope so.< blog archive