The Dutch ballet dancer and choreographer Rudi Van Dantzig, one of the famous names in the world of contemporary dance, has died in a hospital in Amsterdam at 78 after a long illness. He was born in Amsterdam August 4, 1933.
Rudi van Dantzig took up ballet lessons in 1950, at the relatively late age of 16, and in 1952 Sonia Gaskell engaged him in her company Ballet Recital.
He choreographed his first work, Nachteiland, for the Nederlands Ballet, a company that had grown from Gaskell’s Ballet Recital. This was followed by the foundation of the Dutch National Ballet, under the leadership of Gaskell, where Rudi van Dantzig became resident choreographer and in 1965 one of the three artistic directors. In 1971, he was the only one left and he remained sole artistic director of the company until 1991.
Throughout his career, he created over fifty ballets, which are still regularly performed by companies in the Netherlands and all over the world. He created three ballets for Rudolf Nureyev at the legendary Russian dancer’s own request. His ballets are often narrative in character with a high degree of social criticism. For many of his ballets, Van Dantzig collaborated with Toer van Schayk, who designed the sets and costumes. Van Dantzig’s best-known ballets include Four last songs, Monument for a dead boy, Onder mijne voeten and his versions of the full-length classics Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake.
In 1986 he wrote an autobiographical novel, Voor een verloren soldaat, about his love affair while a young boy with a Canadian soldier, which became a great success, receiving several awards, and a beautiful film, of the same name, was based on it. An English translation, For a Lost Soldier, was published in 1996.
Van Dantzig published a biography of the Dutch artist and resistance fighter Willem Arondeus in 2003.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.