The Dutch National Ballet was formed in 1961 through a merger between the Amsterdams Ballet and the Nederlands Ballet. The company has been directed successively by: Sonia Gaskell (1961 – 1969), Rudi van Dantzig (1969 – 1991), Wayne Eagling (1991 – 2003) and Ted Brandsen (from 2003).
The company’s first artistic director, Sonia Gaskell [1904 – 1974], originally from Russia, was one of the pioneers who helped build up Dutch ballet from scratch after World War II. Under her leadership, in the sixties, the Dutch National Ballet presented classics such as La Sylphide, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty for the first time in their entirety in Holland.
By the mid-fifties, she had already introduced ballets from the period of the legendary Ballets Russes, with her company the Nederlands Ballet [the forerunner of the Dutch National Ballet, based in The Hague], including Petrouchka and The Firebird, by Michel Fokine [1880 – 1942] and Les Présages, by Léonide Massine [1895 – 1979].
With the Dutch National Ballet, she continued this line of neoclassical works.
Gaskell recognised George Balanchine [1904 – 1983] early on as an important ballet innovator. In the sixties, there were already ten ballets by this Russian-American choreographer in the Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire. This was before his work became generally acknowledged in the rest of Europe in the mid-seventies. In 1965, the Dutch National Ballet was the first classical ballet company to put on The Green Table, by Kurt Jooss, one of the most prominent representatives of German modern dance Expressionism.
Gaskell also introduced Holland to the modern dance style of Martha Graham. She invited Pearl Lang, one of Graham’s most influential students, to come and stage the work Shirah with the Dutch National Ballet. Right from the beginning, Gaskell was concerned with stimulating young choreographic talent. Under her leadership, Rudi van Dantzig made his first works, creating Romeo and Juliet in 1967; the first full-length Dutch ballet and a new milestone for the young company. In 1969, Van Dantzig  succeeded Gaskell as artistic director.
Sonia Gaskell, Rudi van Dantzig, Wayne Eagling and Ted Brandsen have each brought their own contribution to the development of the company; from building up its own identity and attracting internationally renowned choreographers to achieving worldwide fame and advancing the technical standard of the dancers.
The first artistic director of the company was Sonia Gaskell [1904-1974]. Originally from Russia, she was one of the pioneers who helped build up Dutch ballet from scratch after World War II. Under her leadership, in the sixties, the Dutch National Ballet presented classics such as La Sylphide, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty for the first time in their entirety in the Netherlands.
> more about sonia gaskell
rudi van dantzig
Rudi van Dantzig built on his predecessor’s foundations and extended the Dutch National Ballet’s repertoire. Ever since his appointment as director, the company has regularly distinguished itself with its own highly individual versions of the classical repertoire.
> more about rudi van dantzig
In 1991, Van Dantzig was succeeded by Wayne Eagling , a former principal with the Royal Ballet, in England. Eagling’s policy for engaging dancers and the emphasis he placed on technical perfection raised the level of the Dutch National Ballet to even greater heights.
> more about wayne eagling
The current artistic director, Ted Brandsen, was a dancer with the Dutch National Ballet. He was the artistic director of West Australian Ballet until 2002, after which he returned to the Dutch National Ballet, initially in the position of assistant artistic director and resident choreographer. In 2003, he was appointed artistic director.
> more about ted brandsen