Born: 1996, Diemen (the Netherlands)
Education: National Balletacademy Amsterdam
Experience: Theater Augsburg, Introdans (since August 2017)
In 2015, when Nina Dijkman was aged nineteen, she set off for Germany in a rush to dance at the ballet of Theater Augsburg. And now she’s back in the Netherlands to dance with Introdans. She had only a week to move from Germany to the Netherlands, but Nina is just as flexible as her body. For her, relocating to Arnhem is like an arabesque: a position that points both forwards and backwards. Her experience with one of Germany’s top ballet companies is behind her, and the opportunities offered by Introdans are ahead of her.
Nina had just begun the second year of the Higher Professional Education programme of the National Ballet Academy when the artistic director Jean-Yves Esquerre asked her if she would like to audition for the ballet of Theater Augsburg. The director of the theatre was urgently looking for a dancer, and Esquerre had spotted Nina’s versatility. A few days after the audition she received a phone call. Could she catch a plane to Augsburg? – preferably today, otherwise tomorrow. “I said I would need one more day to pack my stuff.” Nina didn’t need to think twice about the offer: this was an opportunity to dance with a company that had both modern and classical works in its repertoire, and you need to seize a chance like that. “Once you get there, you’ll see how things work out.” So a little over 24 hours later she set off for Germany with two suitcases. “My parents didn’t find that at all easy of course, I’m their only child, but they saw that this move was good for my development.”
Nina began learning ballet at the age of seven. “As a little girl I started dancing by myself as soon as I heard music. I was very athletic and flexible.” She took classes at an amateur dance school in Amsterdam, and her father advised her to choose ballet. “He said that classical ballet was a good foundation for other kinds of dance. And that’s how it began.” Nina’s talent soon got noticed and she was allowed to audition for the National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam. With a public transport ticket in her pocket, ten-year-old Nina undertook a half-hour journey on the Metro rail line from Diemen, the town where she lived, into the heart of Amsterdam. This way of life continued for nine years until she left the school with a Bachelor’s diploma, which she was awarded during her time in Germany. “At the end of each school year at the academy you take exams to determine whether you can continue on to the following year. That’s pretty tough because you know that some people will drop out. You feel grateful for every year you get to spend at the academy. That was how I dealt with it.”
Where possible, Nina doesn’t let stress get to her. “I’ve had to teach myself this, because I’m very self-critical. But I’ve learned to find a balance in this. By being open to criticism you can improve yourself. You need to want to learn. Getting stressed won’t help you. What does help is doing your best and working really hard. I want to make the best of it. Introdans was at the top of my wish list. A weight fell from my shoulders when I heard I could join the company. So there was a little bit of stress there,” laughs Nina.
“If you’re new in a company you have to prove yourself. That’s just the way it is. The group was already in place and I was a new arrival. I just tried to get to know everyone as quickly as possible.” Her former schoolmates and classmates recognised her from the time they had shared at the National Ballet Academy. “I’ve still got a photo showing me together with Nienke Wind and Brooke Newman during a performance at the ballet academy. So the first day at Introdans felt a little bit like coming home.”