In the last school week of November, former NBA student Zoë Greten gave a contemporary dance workshop to the pupils of NBA 7. Greten, who has just turned 22, spent a year with Nederlands Dans Theater as an apprentice, following her training at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and at the Dutch National Ballet Academy. She is currently doing an intensive creation programme with the Nuova Officina della Danza, in Turin, alongside her work as a talented and inspired choreographer. Next season, for example, she is creating another new work for the Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company. Greten gave us this interview for the newsletter from her current base in Turin.
2024 is an important year for the NBA 7 students: they’re doing auditions this year for the Dutch National Ballet Academy’s Associate Degree course and/or other Bachelor’s dance courses. To prepare them for these auditions, it’s important, according to Ernst Meisner, that the students gain experience in working intensively with a choreographer, so he invited Zoë Greten to come and spend a week working with them.
Thinking outside the lines of classical ballet
Greten says, “My main idea was to introduce a new movement idiom to the pupils – who are, after all, trained classically for the most part – and to get them well out of their comfort zone. Drawing on my own experience and all the styles I’ve got to know in recent years, I’ve worked out various choreographic phrases with the pupils. I’ve also given them all sorts of improvisation assignments, then split them into two groups and got one group to think up improvisation assignments for the other group, in line with what we were working on earlier.”
“The biggest challenge for the pupils was daring to do things; to move more organically and think outside the lines of classical ballet. That was quite difficult at the outset, but it was great to see how, as the week went on, they got over their anxiety and really started to flourish. Overall, I thought it was really fantastic to work with the pupils – and at my old school, no less – and I’m delighted that Ernst gave me this opportunity.”
Dancing and choreographing
After her apprenticeship year with Nederlands Dans Theater, last autumn Greten took the course at the Nuova Officina de la Danza, in Turin, in combination with the Nuova X creation programme (which she is still following), led by choreographer Tom Weinberger, where she worked with choreographer duo David Raymond & Tiffany Tregarthen, Bryan Arias, Andrea Costanzo Martini and Weinberger himself, respectively. Greten, too, is now embarking on a period of new dance auditions herself, although she’s adamant that she wants to continue developing as a choreographer alongside her dancing career. “They’re both very different. As a dancer you express your emotions with your own body, and as a choreographer you do so through the bodies of other dancers. But I love them both just as much.” In 2022, Greten made the successful If only I knew the right way for the Junior Company, and in the coming season she’s creating another new work for the juniors, for the programme Made in NL. “That was another great thing about giving the workshop to NBA 7. I could already try out a few ideas I have for my new piece.”