Marieke van ’t Hoff took up the post of Commercial Director of Introdans on 1 November 2020. Her appointment followed the decision by General Director Ton Wiggers to leave the company at the end of the 2021/2022 season, after spending more than fifty years with the company that he had founded in 1971. As of summer 2022 Marieke van ’t Hoff and Artistic Director Roel Voorintholt will jointly form the management of Introdans. Over the last twenty years Van ’t Hoff has worked in management roles for the architecture firms Benthem Crouwel Architects and NEXT architects, but dance has always played an important role in her life. Alongside her ‘official jobs’ she worked as a dance teacher until recently and her passion for dance also made her a regular visitor to Introdans performances.
Van ’t Hoff (Paterswolde, 1965) was born into an artistic family. Her family was a musician and conductor, her mother a visual artist. Her parents envisaged a career as violinist for her, “but at the age of twelve I hung up my violin and said: I want to be a dancer.” At this point she had already been in love with movement and dance for a long time. “One of my earliest memories is how, in nursery school, we moved to the tones of Strauss’ Radetzky March. I was on cloud nine, I strode around like a proud toddler and this music has always remained in my memory. I hated gymnastics , but the combination of movement with music triggered something amazing in me.”
After pre-university education Van ’t Hoff attended the dance teacher programme at the Nel Roos Academy in Amsterdam. “I was”, she says, “certainly not the strongest in my class in physical terms, but I did have a very good feel for dance.” Following this she studied in New York for six months and then spent two years dancing at Jazz Extension Dance Theatre, the Amsterdam-based jazz dance company set up by the legendary Henny Kamerman.
Nonetheless Van ’t Hoff decided – “driven by a hunger for more knowledge” – to embark on a new course of studies at the age of 26. “I started by leafing through the ‘big book of three thousand jobs’ and partly because I had also been assistant artistic director at Colours (one of the dance groups that emerged from Jazz Extension – ed.) for a short time and I really liked that, I decided to study Art and Media Management.”
During her studies she did an internship at the Amsterdam School of the Arts and it was here, after gaining her Bachelor’s degree, that she was employed as a member of staff responsible for, among other things, the finances and the human resources policy of the six dance programmes. “My enthusiasm for interactive projects – where Introdans is such a great pioneer – began there. Together with Marieke Stenvers I set up the 5 O’Clock Class, where young people can take high-level dance lessons after school, and I had the privilege of managing an education project by Jacques d’Amboise, former star soloist of the New York City Ballet.”
After four years Van ’t Hoff switched to the Dutch National Ballet, where she was a member of staff from 1997 to 2001. “One of my most important tasks there was to encourage Wayne Eagling, the artistic director at that time, to devote more attention to commercial matters and, on the other hand, to stimulate the newly appointed commercial director Jaap Mulders to also get involved in artistic issues that weren’t going smoothly. Jaap came from the business sector and he brought with him a degree of business knowledge and skill that was unprecedented for the cultural sector at that time. I knew quite clearly: I want to be able to do that, too; I want to learn how I can help cultural institutions to reach a higher level through progressive business practices.” She felt she would need to work in the business sector for a while to achieve this, but an excessively commercial environment didn’t appeal to her either. And so in 2001 she joined Benthem Crouwel Architects, where, as she says, she immersed herself in quality management. “Nowadays I can say that’s a central thread in my career. Since then, the question of how you as organisation can constantly get better at what you do, and what you need to achieve this, has been the point of departure for everything I do.”
After working at Benthem Crouwel Architects for fourteen years and then spending another five years as commercial director at NEXT Architects, it was, says Van ’t Hoff, time to return to her greatest passion: dance. With regard to her new role she says: “Of course, I’ll be focusing on the commercial aspects, but I’m convinced that, if I want to do my work well, I’ll also need to get involved in the dance aspects to some extent. In a supportive way, I should emphasise. I certainly won’t be making any artistic decisions, but what I can do is create the conditions where these decisions can actually be fully realised.”
So apart from the high-quality performances, it’s also Introdans’ education and interaction activities that appeal to her. “Of all the dance companies with structural grants, Introdans leads the way in responding to social developments: the Introdans Interaction programme has been widely praised. Introdans’ aim of further developing this programme, and also partly integrating it into its performance offering, presents a fantastic challenge for me as commercial director.”