John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington brings Dutch theatre and dance for young audiences to the United States.
Through Virtual Field Trips dedicated to performances by De Dansers and Maas Theater and Dance, Kennedy Center offers exclusive video registrations and interactive assignments for children to enjoy together with their families and teachers. The Virtual Field Trips are developed in collaboration with Dutch Performing Arts and the Dutch Culture USA program by the Netherlands Consulate General in New York.
The collaboration is part of the Never Grow Up! program. Launched in 2019, Never Grow Up! brings an abundance of Dutch film, literature and performing arts for young audiences to the United States. The program presents and shares a wide range of work from the Netherlands for young audiences at festivals, conferences and other platforms, all representing a respect for young people and dedication to youth culture as an autonomous art form.
Virtual Field Trips presenting Dutch theatre and dance for young audiences
Together with the educational team of Kennedy Center, Dutch companies De Dansers and Maas Theater and Dance developed special video registrations of their performances, tailored to children in the U.S. The videos are accompanied by interactive assignments to encourage children to reflect on the themes of the performances, discuss topics with their peers, families and/or teachers, and move and dance along with the performers.
Visit the website of Kennedy Center to get a preview of the Virtual Field Trips of:
De Dansers – ‘Pokon’ dance | 4+
Maas Theater and Dance – ‘EGG-tion HERO’ theatre | 3+
A unique collaboration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where the two groups faced with travel restrictions and Kennedy Center unable to open for in-person event, quickly pivoted to re-work and recreate their artistic content and adapt the performances into engaging virtual experiences.
“Capturing the performance’s heart and soul on film”
Miriam Gilissen and Guy Corneille of De Dansers are pleased with the outcome: “The production of ‘Pokon The Movie’ and the close collaboration with Kennedy Center were an enriching experience for us. At first, we were a bit hesitant about the concept of an online program. With our performances we always strive to establish a physical and warm personal connection; that’s why we don’t usually opt for digital forms of presentation. But these unusual circumstances ask for creative solutions, and it didn’t take long for us to see this would lead to incredible opportunities. We were thrilled about the prospect of reaching children in the U.S. with our work, despite of our live performances having been cancelled due to COVID.
The collaborative process with Kennedy Center was inspiring. They were eager to share our edgy, European-style work with their audiences. This really motivated us to try and capture the heart & soul and anarchist spirit of the original ‘Pokon’ performance on film. We appreciate the time and means we were given to gather expertise to explore how our work could be translated to an on-screen performance. Looking back, this process brought us a new understanding and appreciation of how we can share our work in a digital and interactive way; we’re looking forward to doing this more often in the future.”
“Third time’s the charm”
“Our international hit production ‘EGG-tion HERO’ was scheduled to start playing at Kennedy Center November last year”, says Rosa Brinks of Maas Theater and Dance. “After performances in Brussels, Belfast, Galway, Cairo, Kiev, Busan and Seoul, Washington D.C. was our next stop. Due to a delay in the visa processing however, the 11 performances were moved to May this year and then cancelled because of COVID. We were incredibly disappointed not being able to perform live. But the third time is the charm: thanks to the determination of Kennedy Center we are now able to bring ‘EGG-tion HERO’ to U.S. audiences in a digital way!
We embraced the challenging task of re-working our live performance and accompanying educational materials into a digital format. After an exciting process of exchanging ideas we came up with an entirely new and unique video registration. By having the Lisser Art Museum as the taped performance’s location, the show gets a whole new dimension! Paired with the educational videos, this new version of EGG-tion HERO encourages young audiences at home to think about and interact with our performance in new and creative ways.”
Season-long Dutch focus
The Virtual Field Trips are part of Kennedy Center’s season-long Dutch focus, which also presented performances by Woest (‘Balancing Bodies’), BonteHond (‘GET ‘M’), and Oorkaan (‘Glimpse’) in 2019 and earlier this year.
Also part of the Never Grow Up! programme, De Dansers and Maas Theater and Dance presented their shows to US-based presenters at IPAY Showcase 2019 in Philadelphia.
During 2019 and 2020, Never Grow Up! has been presenting Dutch film, literature, (music) theatre and dance that caters to young audiences and their families at events and venues such as Brooklyn Academy of Music, Kennedy Center, New York International Children’s Film Festival and Brooklyn Book Festival. Presenters and agencies are invited to attend screenings, readings and performances, meet directors, writers and performers, and engage with representatives of Dutch expert organizations to discuss opportunities for collaboration and exchange.
A joint effort of Dutch Performing Arts, Dutch Culture USA, Eye International, Netherlands Film Fund, Cinekid, Dutch Foundation for Literature, and DutchCulture, the programme aims to stimulate the dissemination and visibility of Dutch youth arts as well as cultural exchange and partnerships with renowned US-based presenters and organisations.