In conversation with Didy Veldman
We welcomed Didy Veldman to the School in September as Contemporary Programme Manager. We were excited to hear more about her previous work and how she felt about her new role.
It’s wonderful to have you at the School! How do you feel about your role here?
I’m honoured to be part of this excellent school and excited to build a contemporary programme specifically for the students at The Royal Ballet School. I really enjoy teaching the different age groups as well as inviting a variety of teachers and choreographers to the programme to constantly stimulate, inspire and challenge the students. I look forward to seeing their development over the next few years.
How did you first start out in the world of dance? What do you remember about your early experiences with dance training?
I was one of those kids that always moved when music was being played and so my mum thankfully took me to ballet classes. My ballet teacher saw my enjoyment and told me about schools where I could dance every day which sparked my interest. I auditioned and got into the National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam and from there on I never looked back. I remember the excitement of starting pointe shoe and pas de deux classes, wearing a tutu for the first time and the yearly school performances was what I really lived for.
What were some of the highlights of your career?
Being part of new creations that were made with me and on me as a dancer was very special. I was part of several Christopher Bruce and Ohad Naharin’s creations and loved dancing the work of Jiri Kylian. Dancing the lead in Swansong by Christopher Bruce was fantastic, dancing on the Mariinsky stage with Rambert and touring to China, Mexico, South Korea, and the USA performing my heart out were amazing experiences. Being able to dance and choreograph three new works for the company while a dancer at Rambert was another highlight; and being invited to dance the lead in my own choreography of Carmen with Northern Ballet Theatre at Sadler’s Wells, just before I stopped dancing, was another highlight.
Outside of your career, what else are you particularly proud of?
Being a mum of two wonderful daughters! It wasn’t easy to persevere with an international choreographic career as well as care for two little girls, but I had a very supportive husband and family who travelled with me from time to time. I’m very grateful to have these two wonderful ladies in my life.
What are you most excited about in your new role at the School?
Being part of an exceptional team of teachers and to be working with very talented young dancers. I’m excited to be able to contribute to their development.
What do today’s dancers need to be aware of when they’re starting out? What advice would you give?
My advice would be, to be open and hungry, enjoy the journey, take risks, share your talent, nourish your imagination, make mistakes, be proactive and look after yourself.
What else have you got coming up outside of your work at the School?
I will be re-working my recently created Carmen for Natalia Osipova, Isaac Hernandez and three contemporary dancers, we premiered last December in Edinburgh and are performing in May in London with an international tour coming up. I’ve created a small work with four Royal Ballet dancers for Draftworks which got cancelled due to Covid last year and will hopefully be performed soon. I’ve been commissioned to create a new work for Ballet Augsburg, I’m in discussion with Lauren Cuthbertson to possibly create a solo for her and I am teaching movement classes to rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Thank you Didy for sharing your wonderful insights.