Everyone can dance

Introdans can be found not only in the theater but also in the middle of society. Under the motto: ‘Everyone can dance!’ they dance with students, people with a disability, with the elderly and also with ‘pink’ elderly.

Text Jan Willem Papo | Photos Bas Brouwer and Hans Withoos

Cees Pieter de Putter

When gay older people could audition at Introdans to dance in the performance Pink Cast, the retired Cees Pieter de Putter (72) didn’t hesitate for a second. Cees Pieter comes from a village in Zeeland, where there was no attention for ballet. Ballroom dancing and rhythmic gymnastics were the maximum achievable for an enthusiastic boy with a love for dance. When Cees Pieter went to study in Nijmegen and saw a ballet performance for the first time, the penny dropped. “Sleeping Beauty of the Nederlands Dans Theater, I remember it well. I want to do that too, I thought, and I soon joined an amateur dance company.”

Cees Pieter was able to pick up an old love again at Introdans. “We performed at The Encounter, a project by choreographer Adriaan Luteijn. Then we finished the dance piece and we went on tour.” In the end, he danced in Pink Cast for three years, about twenty performances a year “in theaters and care homes. After that, there was a discussion about gay acceptance. We received compliments like ‘It’s good that you’re putting ‘pink’ elderly in the spotlight.’ There were eight of us, I still have regular contact with a few.”

Cees Pieter also danced in Evacué, a piece by Introdans and Toneelgroep Oostpool, as part of 75 years of Operation Market Garden. He was even asked for Pink Panther Party in September 2021.

“As soon as you get in touch with Introdans and you have a connection, you stay involved and you receive invitations. Introdans is such a professional organization. When they do something, they really put it on its feet.”

“Everything is wonderfully organised, from a rehearsal teacher to the meals. Spinvis provided the music for Pink Cast, The People of The Labyrinths provided the costumes, the professional photos were made by Hans Withoos, among others. With choreographer Adriaan Luteijn I have a connection, we both come from the same area in Zeeland”

Dancing is very important, also for the elderly, says Cees Pieter. “You have to keep moving as you get older, I still do contemporary dance at a dance school nearby. I even had a part in Swan Lake once.”

He has often attended dance performances, but due to a broken lumbar vertebra, sitting and standing for a long time is now too painful for him. “Dancing is possible, but not for too long. In fact, dancing pushes me to keep doing things, despite my disability. My physiotherapist also knows that I dance. I do muscle-strengthening exercises with him, so that I can keep dancing.”

Karolien Janssen

Karolien Janssen (63) was informed by a friend. She announced that she had read that Introdans and Stichting Welzijn Ouderen Arnhem wanted to create a dance performance to make LGBT elderly more visible. For this they were looking for six ‘pink’ elderly people to create this dance performance. “We went there with a few women and did some sort of audition. For me it was a long time ago since I danced. Around my twenties I did theater and dance expression and when I was thirty I danced tango for a year. My dance heart opened when I was 58. As a result of Pink Cast, now that I’ve noticed how great it is, I started doing dance expression again. In fact: in the first year of Pink Cast I also signed up for Buitenkunst, where you can follow workshops on a campsite and where I have been dancing for a week every year since then.”

Karolien found the responses in the care institutions where they performed striking:

“It ranged from ‘Gosh, we’re going to the theatre’, to people who were very moved and even cried. It is so beautiful what we are doing, I thought. We open eyes, we touched something! After the performance, the moderators started a conversation with the entire audience about gay acceptance and diversity.”

Karolien stopped her company two years ago, she was a furniture maker. “I am free now, I can decide for myself what I want to do. I work in primary education, show children around vegetable gardens, explain that cut endive does not grow on trees in plastic bags. It is very nice to do.” In addition to these activities, Karolien is converting a bus into a camper for the second time. In any case, she was available for Pink Panther Party last September. “I am very happy that Adriaan has asked me to perform again. This allows me to keep learning and discovering. I think it is great to work with him.”

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