Sol León and Paul Lightfoot are two of the top choreographers in the Netherlands. Since 1989 they have worked together to create choreographies, mostly for the Nederlands Dans Theater, where they had met shortly before and then for years were leading dancers in the company. It is hard to summarise their oeuvre under one heading: this duo seems to be on a constant choreographic journey of discovery. While their earliest creations were often still light and humorous, their ballets gradually became more volatile, mysterious and dark. These works are intense, often moving dance dramas in which something essential is ‘touched’ – something that cannot be expressed in words, only in dance.
Spanish-born Sol León (Cordoba, her age is secret) came to the Netherlands in 1987 to perform with the junior company Nederlands Dans Theater 2, following her dance education at the ballet academy in Madrid. In 1989 she moved to Nederlands Dans Theater 1, where she became a favourite of master choreographers such as Jiří Kylián, Hans van Manen, Mats Ek and Ohad Naharin. In 2003 León ended her dance career in order to devote herself fully to choreography. She often also creates – either alone or with Lightfoot – the stage designs and costumes for her works.
Paul Lightfoot (Kingsley, England, 1966) received his dance education at the Royal Ballet School in London. In 1985 he became a member of Nederlands Dans Theater 2 and two years later he moved on to Nederlands Dans Theater 1. Here he became one of the company figureheads and danced in new creations by the resident choreographers Jiří Kylián and Hans van Manen and numerous guest choreographers. In 1988 he created his first workshop ballet, followed a year later by The Bard of Avon which, despite the involvement of León, was originally attributed solely to him (including a number of following works).
In 2002 León and Lightfoot were appointed as resident choreographers of the Nederlands Dans Theater. In 2011 Lightfoot succeeded James Vincent as the artistic director of the company; since 2012 León has added the post of artistic advisor to her role of choreographer with the company. Paul Lightfoot and Sol León left the Nederland Dans Theater in 2020.
The duo has made almost fifty choreographies for the Nederlands Dans Theater, which have been performed all over the world and have received many awards, including the international Benois de la Danse award (‘the Dance Oscar’), the Herald Archangel (associated with the prestigious Edinburgh Festival), the Achievement Award of Dancersfonds ’79 and two Swan Awards for Best Dance Production. Paul Lightfoot and Sol León left the Nederland Dans Theater in 2020.
In 2005 their choreography Susto premiered at Introdans, followed by Sad Case three years later. Since then both works have been featured regularly in different programmes. In 2023, the humorous and theatrical SH-BOOM! was added to the Introdans repertoire.
Choreographies by Léon and Lightfoot in the Introdans repertoire:
Susto (2005), Sad Case (2008), SH-BOOM! (2023)