The SNDO provides an educational platform for artists who want to develop their professional practice and work in the field of choreography, dance and performance making. The programme fosters experimentation and critical reflection and guides students to develop their own artistic practice as well as to contribute to the development of the dance field at large. The SNDO offers a full time four-year professional education course leading to a Bachelor's degree in Art – Choreography.
SNDO’s international reputation, carefully curated programme and rich pool of students and alumni continue to contribute to the development, renewal, challenges and expansion of the established ways of thinking choreography and making (dance)performances.
Over and above its core curriculum, the SNDO does this through active dialogue with contemporary themes and politics within the profession, education and society at large; stimulating and initiating new developments and research in the area of dance and performance; by offering intensive courses and symposia, or occasionally by producing articles that can contribute to further development in the field.
The SNDO has organized a number of conferences and workshops: Conversations on Choreography (March 1999), Bodies of Influence (June 1996), The Connected Body (August 1994), The Absent Body (2008), The Diva Body (2009), Body & Spirit (2010), Social Choreography (2011), On Consent in Dance and Performance (2018) and Activism, Art And Education – A Week With Angela Davis (2018). In addition, the SNDO regularly invites in lecturers as part of the Artist in Residence programmes at the ATD.
SNDO has built an international position and has students from different parts of the world coming from more than forty different countries. The staff and (guest-) artists and teachers are both Dutch and international and the courses are taught in English.
The SNDO collaborates with number of local and international organizations from the fields of dance, performance, visual arts and education. The school has relations with Theatre Frascati, Veem House for Performance, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want To Be Part of Your Revolution, Dansmakers, Jacuzzi, ISO Amsterdam, Sandberg Institute – Studio for Immediate Spaces, the Graphic Design department of Gerrit Rietveld Academy all based in Amsterdam.
Internationally the SNDO maintains different types of ongoing or ad hoc relations with Uferstudios Berlin, PAF - St Erme Outre et Ramecourt, MA Choreography and Performance – Giessen, CND Paris, to name a few.
Like any educational structure SNDO is further recognized and enriched through the work of their alumni. The forty-year long trajectory has brought many choreographers, performance makers, dancers and teachers into the international field.
The SNDO is part of the Academy of Theatre and Dance (ATD) at the Amsterdam University of the Arts (AHK) and accredited by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
In the words of others
Due to the raise of interdisciplinary choreography, the validation of the body after a long period of its dismissal, dance regaining momentum after its facultative exhaustion as a mode of resistance to commoditization, the notions of movement inspiring activist philosophy, the emergence of neo-materialistic choreographic approaches that reject dualisms between nature and culture, subject and object, for these and many other tendencies too many to here innumerate, one can no longer rely on a consensus regarding what choreography can either include or exclude.
To direct a school of choreography within such an ocean of possibilities and desires (immanent to the market pressures that so many artists understandably wish to resist), asks for the ability to apprehend and discern from today’s diversity what needs to be elected to be included in a study programme that substantiates and precipitates the future of this discipline, so this can perform in all its significance.
At SNDO today this is done in a dialogical and analytical manner operating at the interstice between the reality of the school and the one outside as a single continuum.
The programme is crafted in a sensitive and fazed manner informed by the visions of the teachers, students, alumni and the transformations in the field. The curriculum constitutive of SNDO is being placed on the table and debated upon. Connections between different pedagogical approaches are traced and alterations are gradually implemented in the programme. The notions of embodiment, movement, race, and gender between others are being discussed in relation to the overall programme.
Focusing pragmatically in what needs to be prolonged or restructured resisting the path of homogenization, the school is directed as a multichannel composition that expands in diverse directions and speeds.
A friend once told me “If you know what to do, just do it. If you don’t know what to do, go to school.”
His remark echoed through my head after I realized my long standing dream of being a dancer was just that, an uninspired dream. I didn't want to be a tool for a creator, I wanted to create. That is as far as my epiphany went. What I needed was a place, not only to nurture my own creativity, but to diversify my ideas of art. SNDO became that place, they supplied a comprehensive guide to the staggering variety of disciplines and creative avenues one can delve into and draw from.
As a fledgling artist the art scene can seem elitist and difficult to get into. The impression was that the world isn't pleased to see you, you aren't needed, nor included or appreciated. Even if your work is commendable, exposure is not easy to come by, curators won’t know you exist. SNDO is an invaluable resource to an artist, not only do they provide a sense of belonging and no small amount of encouragement, but, perhaps more importantly, they provide opportunity, contacts, and great venues with a real audience.
My own direction was a bit divorced from the norm. I had become fascinated with film and documentary. I doubt another institution would have permitted interests that did not line up with their curriculum. However there was always a place at SNDO for my ideas and work to be conceptually aggrandized and professionally performed. SNDO is a place to develop your style, they support, they help you to trust your instincts, follow your vision, and consider options you might not have even heard of. My time at SNDO has awarded me with committed mentors, engaging guest lecturers, talented peers and a deep sense of respect, as SNDO treats you not as a student, but as an artist.
Evelien van de Sanden, SNDO administrative assistant