Inspiring dance artists from all over the world create our repertoire, which we present at world-famous venues. Treasured dance heritage alongside innovative creations. Contemporary styles for a broad taste and a wide audience. We use our art and expertise to connect people with their own imagination and dance power. Inclusively, because everyone can dance. Emotions become tangible, creating a rich experience.
Bring dance in the broadest sense of the word to the widest possible audience. That’s our mission, and has been ever since Introdans was founded in 1971. Dance art as a goal in itself, one to be enjoyed, and also as a way to help people belong, to bring them together and to get involved for themselves. Encounter and participation are key elements in our thinking and our actions. Because we aim for a lasting relationship between dance, our society and our audience – and here we exclude no one.
In 1971 the Dutch dance world was a simple affair. There were two big companies, Het Nationale Ballet (Dutch National Ballet) and Nederlands Dans Theater, and also a special company for young audiences: Scapino Ballet. In addition there were a few dance initiatives, also mostly situated in the Randstad region (which includes Utrecht, Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam). This meant that hardly any dance performances were to be seen in the east of the country, let alone that dancers could develop professionally there.
At this time Ton Wiggers was attending Arnhem Dance Academy, enrolled in both the stage dance and dance education programmes. He saw many students depart for the Randstad after graduating, due to a lack of work opportunities in the eastern regions. And so in 1971 Ton Wiggers got together with Hans Focking, who had his own theatre agency in Arnhem, to set up the ballet workgroup Studio L.P., the forerunner of Introdans. The aim was clear right from the start: ‘The goal of the ballet group is to bring ballet, in the broadest sense of the term, to the attention of the largest possible public.’ That’s how they expressed it in the group’s deed of formation.
The company didn’t receive a grant. The Municipality of Arnhem didn’t believe the region needed a dance company of its own, and had no money to spare for this. So in order to fund the performances Wiggers gave ballet lessons to amateur dancers. In the 1970s the group mainly performed educational shows at schools, but slowly the number of theatre performances grew. In the early years the dancers were paid per performance (60 guilders per show) and so they all needed another job in order to support themselves. Following a lot of lobbying and proven viability, from 1 January 1979 onwards the group started receiving project grants from the Municipality of Arnhem, the regional governments of Gelderland and Overijssel and the Dutch state. What’s more, the municipality allocated more spacious premises to the group. The name of the group was changed to Intro-Dans, derived from ‘introduction to dance’.
Up until this time Ton Wiggers had made almost all the choreographies himself – there was no other option! And because the group was still dependent on project grants, its continued existence was uncertain. All this meant that the company still couldn’t achieve professional status. In 1980 Hans Focking and Ton Wiggers wrote a policy note in which they threatened to dissolve the company. Ultimately more funds were indeed provided and now things started to accelerate.
As soon as more money became available, Ton Wiggers decided to employ guest choreographers. He felt that outside influence was particularly valuable for the artistic development of the dancers and of the company as a whole. Nils Christe, Ed Wubbe, Hans Tuerlings and Hlif Svavarsdottir were some of the names from this period in the early 1980s. Their successful choreographies showed the world that Intro-Dans was taking an increasingly important position alongside the more established companies.
Intro-Dans also gained artistic recognition. In 1984 the group received the Theatre Critics’ Award for the innovative role it was playing within the Dutch ballet scene. A year later the company moved to better premises: the current buildings on the Vijfzinnenstraat. From now on the name was written as Introdans.
The growth of the theatre performances and educational activities, all being carried out by the same dancers, was leading to exhaustion and injuries. In 1989 Hans Focking and Ton Wiggers decided to set up Introdans Educative. This was an independent Introdans department with its own dancers, its own choreographies and its own artistic director: Roel Voorintholt, who at that time had been employed as a dancer for six years. Over the space of ten years Introdans Educative, later renamed Introdans Ensemble for Youth, underwent a professionalisation similar to the Introdans parent ensemble. Thanks to an impressive level of persistence by the directors, renowned choreographers were willing to make their works available to children or to create new works specially for them; these choreographers included Conny Janssen, Jiří Kylián, Hans van Manen, Nacho Duato and David Parsons.
In 2005 Roel Voorintholt was appointed artistic director of the company and now he shaped its further growth. Firstly in artistic terms, but also regarding the number of shows, visitors and participants in the educational and participative projects. The company forged relationships with new choreographers and regularly gave a chance to young choreographers. Prompted by the wish to create long-term relationships with artists, the company also intensified its collaboration with internationally praised choreographers such as Robert Battle, Lucinda Childs and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
Today, both Introdans ensembles – they have been operating under one name since 2016 – perform in many theatres throughout the Netherlands. Moreover, they give performances during special occasions, state visits, at special locations and abroad. In the Netherlands alone, some 85,000 people visit the shows of Introdans each year. Moreover, around 19,500 children and adults take part each year in the educative and participative activities of Introdans Interaction, the third arm of the company that for many years has been pioneering diversity and inclusion in the Netherlands. Introdans also frequently performs at international venues, with highlights that have included a tour of China and appearances in the major international dance meccas: London, New York and Saint Petersburg.
The artistic quality of Introdans, its professionalism and its choice of repertoire are widely praised. This is reflected in the consistent sales of its productions and projects, its public reach and its audience numbers. It’s also confirmed by the many specialist and audience awards and (royal) honours. Recently the Special Prize of the Dancers’ Fund ’79 was awarded to Roel Voorintholt: ‘… partly thanks to his efforts, Introdans is now one of the leading dance companies in our country.’ Introdans is also highly regarded for the societal role that it plays, achieving significant impact. Its professional productions include young people with autism, (LGBT) seniors, people with cerebral palsy, brain injuries, a physical, mental or sensory impairment, top-level athletes, wheelchair dancers, over-75s, young people with their (grand)parents and pupils from regular and special education.
Today, Introdans is a flourishing art company with eighty employees. The management is formed by Marieke van ‘t Hoff (managing director) and Roel Voorintholt (artistic director). The tight-knit ensemble is based in the centre of Arnhem and is now one of the three biggest dance companies in the Netherlands. The current grant providers are the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the regional governments of Gelderland and Overijssel and the Municipality of Arnhem. In addition, many sponsors, donors and Friends support the company’s activities. Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands is the patroness of Introdans.
Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands has been the Patroness of Introdans since 2003. “Introdans is special. In the choice for ballets – wonderfully unpredictable –, in the diversity and in the daring it shows. They aren’t afraid to go off the beaten track. That appeals to me. As well as accessibility. Introdans is never elitist, but always of high quality. You can also find the movement in the way Introdans is socially involved. Dancing with children with a disability, with lonely elderly people, with people with autism. Visiting rehearsals and performances of Introdans is always a joy. The energy splashes off and this gives the audience energy. I cherish fond memories of the fantastic performances for various birthdays of mine. I am proud to be the Patroness of such a wonderful ‘family’.”
And we are proud to have such a committed Patroness!
Dance is a universal language, people all over the world understand it. Introdans is one of the most important ambassadors of the Dutch dance abroad: we present performances all over the world.
Do you enjoy our shows and activities full of beauty and inspiration? We also want to keep moving for many generations in the future. Make this possible together with us and contribute as a Friend of Introdans or connect as a business partner.