Regina van Berkel

Regina van Berkel (The Hague, 1969) has been a freelance choreographer and costume designer for 25 years. Her work is characterized by a unity and equality between sound, image, space, music and movement. A diversity defined by a very personal way of working with each individual in a space that is constantly re-crystallizing. Her movement language consists of a subtle and extraordinary balance between calm and energy as well as bizarre and stylized moments.

William Forsythe

Associated with William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt as a dancer since 1993, Regina van Berkel discovered her own choreographic needs and abilities. “William Forsythe’s work was always created in close collaboration with his dancers. He constantly gave us tasks, diverse topics and philosophical thoughts, which we transformed into movement material. I noticed that I was able to fully develop myself in this way of working,” says van Berkel.

Samuel Wuersten, artistic director of the Holland Dance Festival, noticed these skills in van Berkel and asked her to create a solo for the festival in 1998 to give her own choreographic language a platform detached from the Frankfurt Ballet. The solo, which she danced herself, was awarded the “Zilveren Theaterdansprijs van de Vereniging van Schouwburg- en Concertgebouwdirecties”.

From that moment on, her choreographic development progressed rapidly. Van Berkel began choreographing for other dancers and soon created a full-length program at PACT Zollverein Essen in collaboration with her partner, stage and lighting designer Dietmar Janeck.

In 2000 she took the decision to devote herself entirely to choreography. Since then she has created productions for the Pretty Ugly Dance Company, the Augsburg Ballet, the Hagen Ballet, the Koblenz Ballet, the Portuguese Gulbenkian Ballet, the Swedish Göteborg Ballet, the New York Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and the Nederlands Dans Theater I.

Virtuoso and complex works

Van Berkel had the opportunity to make a various of creations for the ballettmainz and the Ballett am Rhein between 2009 and 2013. Two of these creations, Memory of a Shape and Frozen Echo, virtuoso and complex works for a large ensemble of dancers, were added to the repertoire at the Dutch company Introdans in 2017 and 2018, which in turn led to a new work for Introdans in 2020.

Embracing all the limitations caused by the pandemic, she succeeded in uniting the audience and dancers in the Eusebius Church in Arnhem with the performance installation sustained resonance through a sophisticated concept. With in a reflective landscape, she developed a theatrical version of this installation.

With her project TakeSHORTimpro supported by Neustart Kultur she started in 2021 to create an improvisation platform with special artists out of her work field. This platform offers her the possibility to create impulsive movement experiences and structures which forms sketches for her further creations, for example in her new choreographies Expressive Slide and They, Them in 2023 at the Oldenburgisches Staatsballett.

Create space for creativity

Van Berkel never assumes a specific formula or style in her work. With every new project, she inspires and challenges, the dancers and musicians as well as the audience: “I’m curious about what is developing with the dancers and their personalities, experiences and technical talents at the moment. I like to challenge them and myself, to step out of a comfort zone to create space for creativity.”

In order to make this freedom possible, research, an intensive exchange of ideas and inspiration, precedes this concept development that has been formed over the years with Dietmar Janeck. “The changed space of the stage through the stage design has a great, creative influence, which extremely inspires and sometimes even limits my choreographic movements, which I perceive as a sense-opening enrichment,” says van Berkel.

With great passion, van Berkel develops the concepts and designs for the costumes for all her choreographic works herself.

Young talents

In addition, van Berkel always enjoys working with young talents from various dance academies, such as Codarts in Rotterdam, the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, the University of the Arts in Zurich or on productions for numerous art platforms and dance and music festivals in Germany, Switzerland, Canada and the Netherlands, among others for the Holland Dance Festival, the Swiss Steps Festival, as well as for the Gelderland NJO Muziekzomer Festival.

With the end of the pandemic time in 2022 she gave an unique opportunity to 40 young talents of the Accademia Nazionale di Danza in Rome in her new creation Cosmic Rays.

Important musical collaborations for van Berkel were with the composers Gerard Brophy and Theo Verbey, who have each written new compositions for some of her choreographies, and with Louis Andriessen, who was considered a key figure in the contemporary Dutch music scene. “I see the dancers and the musicians as a unit in space. Developing this on stage is always an exciting challenge for me.”

Dance career

Van Berkel received her dance training in the former Nederlands Dans Theater youth development under the direction of Ivan Kramer and at the Rotterdamse Dans Academie. She began her dance career in 1989 with Djazzex in The Hague, danced with Jan Fabre in Antwerp, and went to New York in 1992 on a scholarship to develop herself further as a dancer. At the same time she received the ‘Aanmoedigingsprijs van Stichting Dansersfonds ’79’. She reached her goal of working as a dancer with William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt in 1993, where she was involved in many creations with full dedication as a soloist until 2000. Following this phase, she worked with Saburo Teshigawara in Tokyo before fully devoting herself to developing her own dance and choreographic language.

Choreographies by Regina van Berkel on the repertoire of Introdans:
Memory of a Shape (2017), Frozen Echo (2018), sustained resonance (2020), in a reflective landscape (2020), Midzomernachtsdroom (2022), Daily Hero (2024).