Dutch National Ballet Academy gets three-strong artistic team

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The board of the Academy of Theatre and Dance (ATD) at Amsterdam University of the Arts is pleased to announce that the Dutch National Ballet Academy (NBA) will be working with a three-strong artistic team, starting in the 2024-2025 academic year.

  • Ernst Meisner, current artistic director of the Dutch National Ballet Academy and associate director of talent development with Dutch National Ballet, will still hold final responsibility as artistic director - contrary to previous announcements;

  • Dario Elia, current teacher with NBA, will be the new deputy artistic director of the Dutch National Ballet Academy;

  • Mthuthuzeli November, international choreographer, will be appointed Artistic Associate and will join the artistic team of the Dutch National Ballet Academy as an external choreographer.


Responsibilities of the artistic team
As artistic director, Ernst Meisner holds responsibility for the mission, vision and core values of NBA. His responsibilities include the overall running of the academy (schedules, curriculum, teachers and education innovation), national and international scouting and general quality control.

As deputy artistic directorDario Elia assists the artistic director. His responsibilities include daily educational matters, leading the teaching team, internal and external meetings and external representation. He will work closely with the artistic faculty to further strengthen and develop the teaching of the Dutch National Ballet Academy classical ballet syllabus. Alongside these tasks, he will keep teaching himself. 

As Artistic AssociateMthuthuzeli November makes up the artistic team. As an external choreographer, he contributes specific knowledge and input that complements the vision of the team of artistic directors. His appointment will give impetus to the development of the academy, the view of ballet in today’s world and the future of ballet training in general. The position of Artistic Associate within the artistic team is held for a definite period, and the position will be filled again when that period elapses.

René Vlemmix will remain in the position of managing director of the Dutch National Ballet Academy.


Democratic leadership model
By adopting this three-strong construction, NBA has chosen for a more democratic leadership model. In international discussion groups, questions are raised about the position of an artistic director of a ballet academy and the power that lies with just one person. The Dutch National Ballet Academy is a participant in this discussion, and takes up the gauntlet by starting to work with a three-strong artistic team.

Involvement and continuity
This new organisational form means that Ernst Meisner will remain involved with the academy and that the educational vision will remain unchanged for the near future. Continuity is also particularly important with regard to international affairs. Thanks to Ernst Meisner’s involvement, NBA will maintain its international network, placing it in context in order to inspire our Dutch talent as well. International scouting and representation are combined in a natural way, with the Dutch National Ballet Academy, the Junior Company and Dutch National Ballet all pulling together.


About Dario Elia
The Italian ballet teacher Dario Elia started dancing at the school Artedanza in Catanzaro (Italy), followed by his professional ballet training of Academia Teatro alla Scala in Milan (Italy) and the Royal Ballet School in London.

After his training he danced with the Zurich Ballet in Switzerland, with the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and joined the Dutch National Ballet in 2012 where he got promoted to coryphée in 2018. He danced a big part of the classical repertoire and has been dancing around the world as part of the Dutch National Ballet, performing group/solos and principal roles. Dario has danced most works of the greatest choreographers of our time. Dario has developed his teacher training over the years practicing and visiting many different schools around the world.

Dario has taught at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and worked as repetitor for the Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet, setting ballets and teaching company classes. From January 2020, Dario started to teach at the Dutch National Ballet Academy as a fulltime teacher. . Dario is the artistic coordinator of productions of the Dutch National Ballet where students of the Dutch National Ballet Academy are involved. Since 2023 Dario is the Artistic coordinator of the Summer school of the Dutch National Ballet Academy. Dario has been training on Leadership and management following courses from the Harvard Business School, the Clore Foundation and the LPC Institute. He has also been a judge in many ballet competitions and has been a representative member of the Dutch National Ballet Academy around the world.

About Mthuthuzeli November
Mthuthuzeli November is an exciting choreographic voice of a new generation from South Africa. Mthuthuzeli only started dancing when he was fifteen through the outreach program, Dance For All. He won a gold medal in the South African Ballet Competition in 2014 and then danced with the Cape Dance Company for a year.In 2015, he committed as a dancer to Ballet Black in London, where he would also create his first ballet for the company a year later.

Since then, Mthuthuzeli has rapidly developed as a dance maker and already created work for Northern Ballet, Cape Dance Company, Glastonbury Festival, Zurich Ballet and in February 2024 premiered a new work for The Royal Ballet in London. In 2020 he won the Olivier Award for ‘Best Dance Production’ for his work Ingoma with Ballet Black.

Beginning with the 2024-'25 school year, Mthuthuzeli will be affiliated with the Dutch National Ballet Academy as an Associate. In this new position, he and the NBA will enter into an exciting and important bond and development with each other.

With a distinct voice of his own, a natural enthusiasm for influencing and enhancing classical dance with rhythms and other influences coming from Africa, and a fresh perspective on what storytelling can mean within ballet, Mthuthuzeli will create works for NBA students and pupils in the coming years.

At the same time, he will work with the NBA's teaching team to create educational paths and projects in which the convergence of different worlds plays a leading role.

By working with a choreographer who is currently in demand in many places around the world, the pupils and students of the NBA will have a unique opportunity to be in direct contact with and learn from – and with - this dancemaker who is currently pushing boundaries when it comes to the development and future of ballet in the world.

About Ernst Meisner
Ernst Meisner has been appointed deputy director of talent development at the Dutch National Ballet from 1 February 2024. Ernst Meisner is a choreographer, and has been artistic director of the Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company since its foundation in 2013. Alongside that position, he was also artistic director of the Dutch National Ballet Academy from 2018. Meisner trained as a dancer with the Dutch National Ballet Academy and danced with The Royal Ballet and Dutch National Ballet. 

He has choreographed several works for Dutch National Ballet and the Junior Company, including a number of special projects like The Dutch National Canta Ballet (2012) and the children’s performance The little big chest (2011). In collaboration with Marco Gerris from ISH Dance Collective, he also created the highly acclaimed hiphop-meets-ballet productions Narnia: The lion, the witch and the wardrobe (2015), GRIMM (2018) and Dorian (2023).

In 2021, Meisner received the ‘Special Prize’ from Dansersfonds ’79 for his great contribution to talent development in classical dance.

About the Dutch National Ballet Academy
The Dutch National Ballet Academy is part of the Academy of Theatre and Dance (ATD), which provides Bachelor’s and Master’s courses for all theatre and dance disciplines. The ATD is part of the Amsterdam University of the Arts (AHK), along with the Breitner Academy, the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, the Netherlands Film Academy, the Reinwardt Academy and the Academy of Architecture.

The Dutch National Ballet Academy is the only dance academy in the Netherlands that is directly affiliated to Dutch National Ballet, one of the leading ballet companies in the world. At the Dutch National Ballet Academy, pupils take an integrated programme of dance and regular education. Besides the preliminary training, the NBA offers an Associate Degree programme in Classical Ballet and Bachelor’s course Teacher of Classical Ballet. The school currently has over 175 students. They include not only many young, talented Dutch dancers, but also a great number of students and guest students from abroad. Since 2013, master choreographer Hans van Manen has been the patron of the Dutch National Ballet Academy. Ted Brandsen, director of Dutch National Ballet, is associated with the school as artistic adviser.

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Ernst Meisner, photograher: Erwin Olaf

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Dario Elia, photographer: Nicoló Muraca

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Mthuthuzeli November, photographer: Helena Fegura