The talk show I always wanted to organize

When the Russian impressario Sergei Diaghilev (1872 – 1929) staged a performance with his Ballet Russes, he sometimes asked Coco Chanel for the costumes. Jean Cocteau wrote the scenario. Pablo Picasso painted the decor. Igor Stravinksy composed the music. Vaslav Nijinsky danced and George Balanchine choreographed.

Just picture that for a moment. All these giants working for the same ballet company. I’d love to organize an evening about the Ballet Russes. Not just to celebrate how ballet can bring all these art forms together. But also to use the company’s big names to attract a new crowd: young people who may have never visited the ballet, but who’d give it a shot when they heard about these unique collaborations from the 1920’s.

That’s why I joined the Steering Committee of the Dutch National Opera & Ballet’s Young Patrons Circle. I know, it’s a mouthful, but our mission is simple: getting people between 21 and 40 interested in opera and ballet. We’ll do this by organizing events around the performances and trips to other companies all over the world.

The Young Patrons Circle of the Dutch National Opera and Ballet

I feel like this is a logical next step for me after organizing Literaturfest, a Dutch literary talk-show where three guests would talk about their favorite book. During our live shows in Amsterdam, we interviewed Donna Tartt about Charles Dickens, Gary Shteyngart about Vladimir Nabokov, Chad Harbach about David Foster Wallace, David Sedaris about George Saunders and Edgar Keret about Kurt Vonnegut. Guest couldn’t just freely use references that half the audience would miss, they really had to talk about what they liked about the book itself. This made it an accessible yet intelligent talk show about literature. Here’s an example:

Ever since then, I enjoy interviewing connoisseurs about their art forms in such a way that everyone can follow what they’re saying. I hope to offer the audience and myself a set of references that helps us in learning to appreciate fine arts.

So now I hope to do the same with the Dutch National Opera & Ballet. I’ll keep you posted on future events. Maybe that evening about the Ballet Russes will be in the cards.

I’ll leave you with a ballet video that went viral this week (how encouraging). Watch Sergei Polunin of the British Royal Ballet dance to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”. David LaChapelle directed the video and Jade Hale-Christofi choreographed the dance.

P.S. If you’re interested in the Ballet Russes and you haven’t this biography of Diaghilev yet, please do so. It’s an incredible account of how Diaghilev literally used everything he got to organize performances. One of the most inspiring books I’ve read in my life.

Eindelijk verantwoord gamen als een rockster

Soms, na een spannende spreekbeurt op een congres, een slopende sessie bij Brainsley of een geestdodende dag, wil ik niets liever dan zombies afknallen of Messi dollen. Maar elke keer als ik een game op m’n iPad zet, voel ik me tóch schuldig. Nutteloos tijdverdrijf, dat deden helden als George Plimpton of Sergej Diaghilev vroeger vast niet. Die lazen een goed boek, of creëerde iets prachtigs. Continue reading “Eindelijk verantwoord gamen als een rockster”

De onvermoeibare Sergej Diaghilev

Met ballet heb ik niets. Ik ben zelfs nog nooit naar een voorstelling geweest. Toch heb ik met veel plezier en ontzag de biografie  van Sergej Diaghilev (1872-1929) gelezen, de man die met Les Ballet Russes de balletwereld – en eigenlijk de gehele Europese kunstwereld – van begin vorige eeuw ingrijpend veranderde. De Nederlander Sjeng Scheijen beschrijft op grootse wijze op hoe de Russische aristocraat uitgroeide tot een grootheid door wie mensen als Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinksy, Coco Chanel en Jean Cocteau zich lieten inspireren. Continue reading “De onvermoeibare Sergej Diaghilev”