NBA Education projects: Ballet with your class and De Kunstbrigade op School

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photo: Antoinette Mooy

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Throughout this school year, Bachelor’s students of the National Ballet Academy will contribute to two important education projects, which focus on introducing young children to the profession of ballet dancer. The first is Ballet with your class, a Dutch National Opera & Ballet project in which two students accompany a member of the education team on a visit to a large number of schools in Amsterdam. The second project is De Kunstbrigade op School, by the foundation of the same name, which focuses on schools throughout North Holland.

Ballet with your class
The Dutch National Opera & Ballet education department initially developed Ballet with your class for children who usually have little opportunity to see ballet in a theatre. The project is now carried out in a great number of regular primary schools in Amsterdam, as well as primary and secondary schools in special education. This season, two dance students from the National Ballet Academy and a dance education teacher are visiting the schools, where they will work with three classes a day. Lin van Ellinckhuijsen (dance education programme maker with Dutch National Opera & Ballet): “In an abridged class, the dancers demonstrate how they warm up and then the children are allowed to join in. They stretch, learn the five ballet positions and are challenged to do jumps. And they find out, for example, what it’s like to stand on one leg on your toes and be spun around by a dancer, or to wear pointe shoes, or to be lifted up high by a dancer”. After that, the children can bombard the dancers with questions – about pointe shoes, eating and diets, and embarrassment, etc. Lin: “This is something we prepare the dancers for, because the questions can sometimes get quite personal. We once had a child who asked in a broad Amsterdam accent, ‘So what does it pay being a dancer?’” Then each of the three classes learns a piece of choreography, which they can perform for the whole school in the hall or gym. The school performance ends with the NBA students dancing a pas de deux, which this season is Embers by Ernst Meisner. Lin: “This is also an important experience for the NBA students. They learn to present themselves and to put into words what is involved in the profession of a dancer”. She laughs, “And of course they are real stars for a day. We go to the schools by taxi and all the children want their autographs afterwards”.
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De Kunstbrigade op School
This year, one of the projects by the foundation De Kunstbrigade op School is The Nutcracker, and the National Ballet Academy has been invited to collaborate on it. Each class of pupils from schools in North Holland who sign up for the project rehearses a piece of choreography, led by teachers from De Kunstbrigade. On the final project day, the different pieces form a single mini Nutcracker production, which brings to life the well-known fairytale, including the Sinterklaas and/or Christmas party, the battle between the mice and the tin soldiers, the waltz of the snowflakes, the Arabian, Chinese and Russian dances and the famous waltz of the flowers. At this festive performance for parents, teachers and other audience members, the National Ballet Academy students will perform the famous pas de deux from the ballet.

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