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Ballet Talk for Dancers

" Yondering" John Neumeier


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The NBA (Nationale BalletAcademie), Amsterdam performed this ballet last night as part of the end of year performance. Prior to the students dancing a short film was played about the making of the film, showing excerpts from the rehearsals and short interviews with students and artistic staff. I thoroughly enjoyed the ballet, beautiful innovative partnering and a number of humorous skits but also tenderness and emotion too. I'm curious to know more about this ballet. This is the excerpt from the programme: "Yondering is a choreographic gem originally created on the students of Canada's National Ballet School and premiered at The Hamburg Ballet School. Set to the beautiful melodies and poignant lyrics of 19th century American songwriter Stephen Foster, the series of tableaux celebrates the energy and spirit of youth and evokes the mourning and separation of death. To this day only seven international schools have the privilege of performing this ballet"

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It was also just performed at Hamburg Ballet School as an anniversary celebration of the creation of the ballet. Students from San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet, HET, and Hamburg Ballet were all part of the collaboration--a number of DD's friends were selected to participate. John Neumeier traveled to the US this year to set the ballet on students from the two American schools. I was lucky enough to see DD's school perform it twice, and I feel honored to have done so. The piece is absolutely stunning in its simplicity and emotion, and I was beyond impressed with the students' performance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you sk8jdgca! The information in the link is very interesting.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Coincidentally, I watched that exact performance Blanche mentioned in Hamburg. Students of six schools performed Yondering on that evening (4th of July), Hamburg Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, Houston Ballet Academy, the School of the National Ballet of Canada, Dutch National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam and the School of the Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris. John Neumeier mentioned that the seventh school who has performed the ballet so far is the Royal Ballet School but their students were not free and joked it's because they have a couple other problems in Britain right now...

John Neumeier also said that this ballet is reserved exclusively for ballet students, as only they can truly perform the feelings that come with being in a situation where you're about to leave home and go into the unknown, to go yonder (? don't know how this word is exactly used in English). I assume that you understand the meaning of the word "yonder" a lot better than me...

It was choreographed after John Neumeier was asked by the National Ballet School of Canada to choreograph a piece for their students, and he felt it would be unfair if he choreographed something on them and wouldn't do the same for the ballet school founded by himself, the Hamburg Ballet School. So he made it his condition that the Hamburg Ballet School perform this ballet as well. In the end, the premiere in Hamburg was even earlier than the one in Toronto. I am not sure with which students he worked on the choreography, I felt he really invented it with students of both schools.

I checked my playbill (?) to see if there's any additional information, but unfortunately it's only about Hamburg Ballet School. I do have a list of all the songs that are used for the dances. There are some German blog entries from an intern at Hamburg Ballet School about the rehearsals in Hamburg before the performance and a German review, should you be interested in them...

For the 20th anniversary performance John Neumeier asked four students who were part of the German and Canadian premiere of the ballet in 1996, Alexandre Riabko and Yohan Stegli, and Peter Dingle and Jason Reilly to dance the beginning. Afterwards they "passed" it to the younger students who would then dance the beginning again. It felt really special to witness this moment, seeing dancers who are at the ends of their careers (or beyond that) "pass the baton" to dancers whose careers are just about to start.

I enjoyed the performance a lot because it really is funny and a bit quirky, melancholic, and solemn.


If you have any direct questions, feel free to ask, but although this was the highlight for me in this ballet performance season, the memories disappear very fast, and three weeks later I do not remember much more anymore than what I wrote above.

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There's a lovely little video on NBS's YouTube channel where Guillaume Côté speaks about Yondering. Worth the watch.


I was privileged to see one of the listed schools perform this twice this spring. It was a moving experience and I will treasure the memory.

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My son had the opportunity to perform in it this past year, and it was a great experience for him. He talked about it all year, and took a lot of pride in the fact that his school was part of this student project. It was a perfect piece for students, with the right blend of humor, romance, and serious reflection.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My daughter goes to the National Ballet School and the 20 year anniversary of Yondering was such a big deal this year. My daughter LOVED seeing the latest performance of this unique creation this year.


From the Yondering website mentioned above, we particularly loved Emma Hawes as a 9th grader performing Molly (she's now a soloist at the National Ballet): http://yondering.squarespace.com/personal-artistry/

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