Last Wednesday, November 1st was the big day: classes started for all NBA students in the new NBA building at Nicolaas Tetterodestraat 13. With a lively opening ceremony attended by the entire NBA and ATD board, and Ted Brandsen, managing director of the Dutch National Ballet, and artistic advisor of the NBA , everyone gathered in the Grote Zaal: the spacious, bright dance studio, which can also be converted into a theatre for around 80 visitors.
An appropriate day, as was highlighted in the welcome address by Ernst Meisner, NBA artistic director, as 1 November is also World Ballet Day!
Ernst Meisner: 'Having spent last week in Rio de Janeiro at the YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix) competition, I realised again how privileged we are to live and dance in Amsterdam.
When René (Vlemmix, NBA business leader) and I joined the school five years ago, we heard that at least 20 plans to relocate the school had already passed the revue. Many schools in other countries did have this shared space, and although NBA is relatively young compared to many international dance schools, it was now time to grow up. This desire to all be under one roof, no more wasting precious time travelling back and forth, where young and old could be inspired by each other became a necessity.
So with a great team of amazing people from the AHK, ATD and the NBA, we decided to give it one last cshot. After a wonderful, exciting and sometimes difficult and challenging, but always positive journey with architects, designers, builders and colleagues, we now have a school with 7 amazing studios!
However, this school will be much more than a dance space. I sincerely hope it will be a place with room for discussion and research, where we can talk about the future of a thriving, healthy ballet world in the Netherlands. An open school and platform where things may be experimented with, mistakes may be made, and everyone is welcome: old, young, student, professional, and above all: everyone who is curious'.
'We are and will remain part of the ATD. We continue to create and share together, like during Intro Week and Wastelands Week, but also through the use of the library and other shared facilities on Jodenbreestraat.
We have now moved with the entire NBA family and have a new home. You make a home together, by making each other feel that exploring, making mistakes, learning, making friends and dancing your heart out is all possible here!'
'At the same time, as we celebrate we look at the many places in the world where people are unable to celebrate. It can make us feel angry, sad and even desperate. Some of you have told me that it feels strange to enjoy the day and this beautiful place, knowing that not far from here today people are struggling like this. I feel the same way. You hope people respect each other, care for each other and sometimes I feel hopeless wishing I could change the big things. What I do know is that I can do small things: strike up a conversation with someone (even if we disagree), exchange a smile, share an idea with a group, or teach a good lesson. As a community, we can do small - but important - things towards a better world for everyone.
Now let's start making new memories here. Welcome to our new home!
The words that Anthony Heidweiller, deputy director ATD addressed to the students after this, dovetailed perfectly with Ernst's speech and he added: 'We are going to miss you on Jodenbreestraat!'
Ted Brandsen brought up the importance of the collaboration between the Dutch National Ballet and the NBA and pressed the students: 'You guys are important. Artists matter, because you are the ones who bring beauty to the world. You matter'.
As René Vlemmix read out the internal regulations, there were also a few to think about more deeply:
- Take care of each other and the building
- Thank those who give you feedback
- Learn from each other
René also mentioned that the final work, such as fitting out the shower rooms, bike parking and the large lounge/chill staircase at the heart of the building will all be completed one of these days.
Finally, NBA 5, 6 and 7 were given a tour of the building and René announced that there were sweets in the canteen for all other students, to which there was a wave of jumping upright enthusiasts on the floor, rushing towards the ground floor, towards the canteen.
It was a busy first day, in a beautiful new building, with a fruitful future and already one great memory 'in the pocket'.
Text and photos: Babette Verhoef