Anton Gerritsen

(Business Leader from 1966 to 1992): SPECIAL DATES SPECIAL GUESTS.

At the reunion of so many of us in this golden week of the Dutch National Ballet in september 2011 is an abundance of common memories. A few of them in sadness, melancholy, but most in joy and ecstasy. Gratitude for the great influence that the Group has had on our lives. Especially for our dancers, in their young adulthood. The physical need to stop on a good time a second life-after-the-dance arise. For others on the other hand can be several, or not serveral, decades of the Dutch National Ballet. A life with more new (re) colleagues was shared. And so before, during and after the feast of september 2011 can be talked about until today.

But there are also events, by very few of us – alone or in small circle- experienced. Therefore I would like, from my 26-year-old business leadership, a few events and persons, under the above title to withdraw their oblivion. I’m telling it chronologically:


JANUARY 5th 1968

The last meeting of our Executive Committee attended by Mrs Gaskell.

From september the 1st 1967 the leadership of the group statutory consists of four people: Mrs, Rudi, Robert (Kaesen) and myself, in terms of the business operations. Mrs is no longer the generally decisive manager. She actually not arranges her self. The fact that Rudi and Robert about our preparation and production of the Sleeping Beauty of the Polish Drzwiecki and Pankiewicz is that she’s thinking differently on certain points, she experiencing this as insubordination. The blow falls abruptly, when a co-affair with the Dutch Opera. For that we need to keep employable under the “founding agreement” from 1961 in principle dancer for more than 24 opera productions. For that we must , on the basis of the founding agreements from the 1961 principle maximum up to 24 dancer keeping employable for opera productions. DNO makes as modest use of for our first big evening event: Swan Lake (March 1965) and Rudi’s Romeo and Juliet (February 1967), that we can put in our fully dancers tableau. But for the Holland Festival 1968 asks DNO, for the first time, the deployment of the full 24 dancers for a big production of Rameau’s Platée in Carré. Mrs. can not else then (well over a year in advance) agree with this. Until, in december 1967, reached her an invitation in the new Festival du Marais in ‘ her ‘ Paris to give two full weeks a series of performances. Instantly she begin by herself to negotiate three different programs. And Platée then? Mrs carries me on to at least 20 freelance dancers, with soloistic capabilities, to commit themselves or not. I refuse to do that, claiming that this would mean collegiate malpractice towards DNO. After all, the Parisian invitation came many months after the appointment already made with the Opera. Mrs Kindle in violent anger as Rudi and Robert sharing my point of view. She asks for a meeting, in which she hopes to get her equal. The meeting comes on January 5th 1968. The director, however, supports not Mrs, but us.

The day after she leaves (as already several times) spontanious for her Parisian address. This time, however, never to return.
When, with difficulty, accepted by her official farewell to in the fall of 1969, she notify the director a ultimatum onlt to come when Rudi, Robert and I not be concerned, and she don’t need to meet us. The director signed the peace and Rudi and I meet Mrs. again at the first of our three Parisian tours from the 70’s in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. In november I press hand again for the first time after 2.5 years.


DECEMBER 5th 1968

Mrs. Gaskell had from her Dutch Ballet-periode the business contracts around our Balanchine –repertoire always run through Balanchine’s – European representative Leonid Leonidoff. Although she had our first Balanchine’s (Concerto Barocco – Bizet – Four Temperaments-Serenade) royalty-free as a gesture, but starting from Apollon Musagète and De Verloren Zoon we do not only performance-fee, but also to pay royalities presentation. The settlement there was made in cash bank notes at the home of Leonidoff. On January 5th 1968, almost a year after Missis departure, I came back to him for the first time in the Rue des Colonels Renard in the seventh arrondissement. I would do that almost 23 years 1 or 2 times per year. An incredible impression from my from work in the Dutch National ballet. Leonidoff was a very old emigré, Colonel from the Tsarist army before 1917. Grammatically correct French speaking, but in an accent, that the patois of a farmer from the Pyrenees can not match. Living in an apartment that was hung with military charters to all walls, icons, cabinets with vodka bottles and glass and bright red draperies. A film set. He was always very cordial, but began almost immediately every time, Avid, the hundred guilder notes. In Russian. Over the view years I could count with him, which had the result that I was at our Russian tour in 1971 (… … performances in Moscow, Leningrad and Riga) and at least knowing the basic numbers in Russian already. Somewhere in 1974 I met at his home also for the first time George Balanchine himself. My presence quickly became afterthought. In ever louder Russian made both men increasingly fierce arguing that, as is clear from the interim nicker, not regarded as harmful to their decades-old friendship.


JUNE 21st 1969

We make a tour of five cities on the Dalmatian coast, in the then still existing SFR Yugoslavia. The blue-green poster, which mentions me as Glavni Direktor, still hangs in the hallway on the third floor in the musical theatre. That evening we act in a good improvised theateraccomodatie on the Roman city remains in the Centre of Split. The artistic direction of this tour is in the hands of our Argentine ballet master-for-a-year Hector Zaraspe. The program of that night is me, 42 years later, meanwhile slipped out. But not what happened after that performance. Hector and I walk to the hotel, we want to eat something, but seeing a television screen in the lobby of (post-) communist quality sending out weird images. A man in a kind of dry suit makes awkward dance moves on a rocky surface.

Neil Armstrong sets foot on the Moon!


JUNE 21st 1970

Nureyev is our guest-star-soloist with performances in South Germany, Switzerland and the beautiful open-air theatre in Nervi, near Genoa. The tour opens in an idyllic open-air theatre in Wetzlar, Hesse, where the industrial giant Buderus delivers us contracts-conditions. As with any outdoor performance must be included in the contract a clause for: “replacement spare date in case of bad weather”. I’ll take a guess. The data sequence series makes it attractive for all of us to not make a post, to perhaps unnecessary, useless second day to stay in reserve for Germany, but directly by travelling to Switzerland. I’m guessing so for a spare day on Italy’s return journey to Netherlands. But if that still necessary, it will take the season one trip-and one performance day longer I rob the dancers of the very attractive possibility (in terms of outward journey financed by the company) to be able to start their summer holidays in Italy.
The outward journey is the day before by train via Frankfurt to Wetzlar. It’s beautiful weather all week, even the morning of the Saturday performance. At three o’clock I go, for fifteen minutes, lie on my hotel establishment. Against all previous times I only woke up at half past six, opening the curtains, and see a black-cloudy sky. It will not be true? The performance must begin at half past eight. Do we make it on time? Or rather, de we make the break in time , because then the presentation is given so we do not need to give a reserve-reprise. At a quarter past eight it is still dry, but very much darker. 

The dancers do their last performance-barre, backstage, invisible to the public. At exactly half past eight, in training clothes Rudolf comes on , easily visible to the public as he is, received directly a pre-applause. Even slower than he starts, on the scene right at the door of the cottage, calmly to do so harsh. Endless, it gets even darker. He goes off at five for nine, to dress up and make up. At half past ten, exactly an hour late, the show can begin.
It is now no longer to see if the darkness of the evening (it’s the longest day!) of the impending storm. In distance: the first lightning. But……. the break is made! In fact, the second, the white Act, can begin. The only thing that fails is the lock-applause: after a downpour twice bent. Audience and dancers searching bolting a safe place.

But I? Never have I myself so eagerly, so blissful, drenched in rain. Thank you so much, weather from Wetzlar!


NOVEMBER 29th 1971

The night before we have in Riga the last performance of our 3-week Russian tour (with past indicative, Toer’s and Serenade the green table). Riga in the Soviet era has no international airport; with the whole group we go by train that night back to Leningrad, from which the dancers who Monday noon fly back to Schiphol. Not only the dancers must make the journey back to the West via Leningrad, also the trucks from Cat with scenery and costumes must go first north-eastward via Leningrad for the customs clearance, in order to be able to make a u-turn to go there again. Jan Hofstra and I continue therefore still a day longer in the old Tsarist capital. For me there is in addition a second reason. The State Impresariaat Goskonzert has, according to contract, the domestic travel, the hotels and the flight trip for his account, plus a considerable amount in non-transferable rubles. There can be more than generously paid the dancers-sejours (meals in the USSR are cheap, many girls buy lovely fur hats and like all Eastern European tours our return journey suitcases are full with gramophone records). But I, for the group, need more money: the fly-outward journey, the decor-transport and the copyright come for the Dutch Ntional ballet-account. Fortunately, I have, after the last performance, a reasonably full ruble-wallet. But ……. I should not take them out the country.

I play high stakes.


I call the cultural attaché at the Embassy in Moscow, van Houten,if I can meet him that night at a quarter to eleven by the large statue of Lenin at North Station. The reason I conceal. (all phone calls by Western diplomats will be bugged in the cold-war), but I have reason to believe that he understands why I come. Our interpreter Lena buys in Leningrad a train ticket for me and I’ll make the – later by me never forget – six-hour train trip in the middle for me totally unintelligible Russians, with their chickens and vegetable baskets for themselves on the ground. My grey Astrakhan Hat masks my foreigner shelf.
Upon arrival I meet van Houten. We walked to a park, where the chance of eavesdropping is small. He says to me that his boss, the Ambassador, is very angry on me. In his eyes I taken irresponsible risks. If I get caught (I could be able to give no answer to a train conductor) I would directly taken in custody with my full wallet because of foreign exchange smuggling attempt. With a chance of a multi-year prison sentence. Nevertheless, van Houtem takes the money and take me to his house, where I sleep on the ground. He cares for a diplomatic plane ticket back to Leningrad, where I “would be indispensable in the handling of the goods to be cleared through Customs cargo ‘. At two o’clock the next day I meet Jan Hofstra. At half past four, the two trucks an go on road. Jan and I spend the night for the last time in Leningrad.
The next morning we are at seven o’clock at the airport. I suspect that the Russians smelled danger. Our search takes almost two hours. From my agenda all the pages of the whole month of November will be photocopied. My wallet, then almost empty, and even my toothpaste tube are cut open! But on 09:05 we take off in the wide-body-Tupolev of Aeroflot, SU 633, towards Stockholm. The other nine (!) passengers steps all in Stockholm. With the two of us we occupy on the route Stockholm – Schiphol the only two well-used seats of the more than two hundred in Total. The heavily made up Soviet – flight attendants transfer us to the first division and coddle us with caviar and champagne from the Crimea.

A month later the Ministry of Foreign Affairs an amount of nearly 30,000 gulden on the bank account of the Dutch National Ballet. The risks have taken their benefit.


APRIL 29th 1975

We arrived the day before in Ottawa. The long Brazilian tour with nearly 4 weeks long performances of 4 (!) programs in Rio de Janeiro (8), Sao Paolo (8) and Belo Horizonte (3) Gets a sequel with a short series of performances in Toronto and Ottawa. This admixture finds its reason in that year at the 700-year celebration of Amsterdam sister cities established between Amsterdam and Toronto (naming of the bridge at the Amstel hotel). Rudi, Hans and Toer having their Collective Symphony (Stravinsky Symphony in C) choreographed, commissioned by the municipality. And their work should performed in Toronto too of course. A Queen’s day performance in the Canadian capital of Ottawa then formed the capstone.
The main music and dance of the Ministry of CRM, the legendary Mr Wagemans, is coming to Canada. He tells me the previous evening confidence the second reason for his coming: Han and Lex will receiving on Queen’s day their Knight Orange-Nassau ribbons (Note: separate they will, years later, receiving their Officers promotion). There is a little problem. The time difference between Netherlands and Canada. Han and Lex should not be informed of their later publication in decoration than the Netherlands. And, the decoration should take place in public. We find a solution.
Mr. Wagemans and I reporting us at a quarter past six in the morning at Han and Lex’ hotel room and woke them up. It takes the kindly-formal Mr Wagemans visible effort to both of them-in-sleepwear, with closed curtains,. No less in shyness a few hours later Ambassador Thorn Leeson if he, of course, at the end of the lesson clearly perspiring Lex must find a place on a strap of her training suit to pin up the “decorations”.

After the lesson I’m going, with Mr Wagemans and the Ambassador, back out. On the way to the hotel on the street extra newspapers editions peddled everywhere. The United States of America, having lasted almost 10 years, giving up their military actions in Vietnam.


NOVEMBER 9th 1976

The premiere at the Minskoff theatre on Broadway-the first of our three New York tours (1976-1978-1981). With the guest that we reviewed, highest artistic gast in this recent 50 years we could think: George Balanchine himself. The first time he has seen our group. After the 6 Ballets from him in the Gaskell-time it’s already doubled and it will be tripled in the following years. With Rudi and director Peter Lohr we welcome Mr. b., as we also do that evening with e.g. Martha Graham and Princess Christina. There’s the necessary through us, but I realise who I would have awarded that honor. For Madam, Sonia Gaskell, at that time no longer alive for more than two years, that would be the finest hour of her long, fruit-bearing life.


APRIL 19th 1978

The opening of our second New York tour. Also on Broadway, in the Minskoff-theatre. With it there so spoiled dance audience the thrill of Rudolf Nureyev in Rudi’s Monument for a dead boy. Also with important guests: for the first time officially, and not incognito, Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus. The Princess can be persuaded to go along to the after-party at the House of the consul general Leopold Quarles van Ufford (which already three years earlier, as Ambassador there, with a large part of our Brazilian performances was hiding).
The Princess is just between us on a sofa bed. The conversation is not just about our repertoire. She says the contemporary creations of Rudi, Hans and actually preferable to Swan Lake and Romeo. It’s also about something else. Would, if she ever follows up her mother, it’s no longer a good idea to visit States with a contra-dinning, but to offer a performance for the host country? It’s also about something else. Would, if they ever follow her mother, it’s not a good idea to State visits are no longer a contra-dinner, but a performance or a concert to the host country to offer? We agree to come back later on. And that happens. In the year after its inauguration, we’ll walk, along with the Dutch Ballet Orchestra, the State visit to Bonn. And again a few years later to Ottawa. This time together with “Henny Jurriens ‘” Royal Winnipeg Ballet. There is a long-running, now 30 year old tradition.


APRIL 7th 1979

I am that Saturday morning, as the then President of the initiative Committee Amsterdam in addition to Mayor Wim Polak on the frontstand of the Palace to watch the Dam parade. Polak whispers me in the ear that he has slept only a short time that night. That Monday he will be in the Hague with ministers van Agt, Wiegel and Gardeniers informing the step that the Amsterdam Municipal Council has decided in the night of Friday to Saturday. That Friday afternoon, the Prime Minister, after the weekly Ministers meeting announced that the plenty of the so-called second oil crisis the Government had decided to withdraw her permission for the construction of the new City Hall of Amsterdam on the Waterlooplein. Mainly in glass on pulling Austrian Wilhelm Holzbauer would be spending way too much energy. Polak, his College of B. and W. and Holzbauer will not let the grass grow higher. That night in the official residence at Herengracht the still “wild” plan to build not only the City Hall on Waterlooplein, but combining the in still waiting, Music theatre on the Ferdinand Bolstraat from architects Bijvoet-Holt-Dam. The sequel is known. After just a few months lobbying (in which I can take an active part) is given the green light. A process of over 5 years is only interrupted, but not lasting upset, by the violent actions of the protest group Stop Opera, which creates a bad name later to our building. But didn’t make a illusion on that glorious day on september 23th 1986.

Amsterdam, the Dutch National Ballet and the Dutch Opera involve theateraccomodaties one of the most beautiful in the world.

The professional life of many of us Gets a beautiful apotheosis, a beautiful beginning.


NOVEMBER 23th 1980

We are halfway through the longest tour we have ever made. Successively in the then brand new Deutsche Oper Berlin (in the Bismarckstrasse), in Poland, 3 times in Warsaw and 2 times in Lodz, in Hungary 3 times in Budapest and 1 time in Debrecen in Romania 4 times in Bukarest, and clossing in Bulgaria 3 times in Sofia and 2 times in Plovdiv. Saturday 22 we close the Hungarian series located on the eastern border of Romania with Debrecen. We’re going onSunday morning in two extremely rickety buses to the border of the Romanian Oradia to fly with a domestic charter to Bukarest. It is still a iron-curtain-time, even between the historically friendly to unfriendly condition of the countries Hungary and Romania. The Customs contròle takes over two hours – everyone needs everything from his bags on a lawn display. I’m going to be the first to cross the border itself to our state impresario of the representative of the Romanian gage slate – in local currency – to collect the amounts owing. So I can give directly cash of every newly-erupted dancers Lei-sejour. The many remaining remnants on Hungarian Forint are worthless immediately. But not … …. for the Hungarian old females, who know crossings the border of Westerners the necessary crumbs will left over.
If Rudi crosses the border, he appears to have not seen the Hungarian females. Of course he goes back. A few minutes later a dramatic joy howling breaks. A mistake?

Rudi shows its full, just received, six-day slate-sejour given to a Romanian. This Romanian can go on for two months now!


APRIL 10th 1989

That morning I’m in discussion with Rudi and Hans, when the terrible message reaches that Henny Jurriens and his wife Judith James died the night before. A car accident, in darkness and smoothness somewhere along the way between the Canadian Winnipeg, where Henny the year before had become artistic director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and the USA-State border in Minnesota. Their daughter survives the accident. That the follow-up-conflict of Rudi with the management, that Henny until departure from our group released, this terrible aftermath would come! We invest directly a company-meeting, where Rudi speaks his many tears are too powerful. That afternoon I go with Astrid van Leeuwen and Willy Campman to Arnhem to try to comfort the family. Part I, before the evening performing of Sleeping Beauty, this is so bad news to the audience. The audience has the program booklet in hands, whose cover Henny and Lex in the grand pas-de-deux. We take multiple minutes’s silence.

Eight years later – I have followed up succeeded by Iftikhar Haider – Gary Feingold asks me to become chairman of the Foundation of his then newly founded Training Centre Classical Dance. We give it the name Henny Jurriens foundation. In request of the family I speaks view years later at the funeral of Henny’s mother and later of his father. On both occasions asking the family to at these funerals no flowers, but donations to the Henny Jurriens foundation.

Henny’s name has now become a permanent institution in the wide Amsterdam dance world.



the presence of Queen Beatrix on Tuesday 13th of september 2011, but also, I estimate, the fifty previous times, including those in Bonn, in Ottawa, or on her silver wedding in our Musical theater in the spring of 1991, do our almost forgotten how rare Royal visits are of us before 1980. I remember only two of Queen Juliana, Prince Bernhard’s not even one.

Therefore, some other data:
• July 5th 1971, Granada, in the gardens of the Generalife in the Alhambra, the then future Spanish Royal couple Juan Carlos and Sophia, with their two oldest children.

• October 7th 1971, Brussels, Palais des Beaux Arts, King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola.

• April 13th 1974, Monte Carlo, Grand Théâtre, Princess Gracia (former Grace Kelly) with her then still so small daughter Caroline.

In between and there after the Presidents of Senegal and the German Federal Republic, the governor-general of Canada and maybe I forget there may still be more. However, all: nice hands for our dancers.