This month, the international press attended the world premiere of Mata Hari, the new full-length production by Dutch National Ballet, based on the life of the legendary Frisian woman who made her name as an exotic dancer in Paris in the early 20th century and worked as a spy during World War I. Pupils and students of the National Ballet Academy were involved in the production, as the young Mata Hari and as her two children, among other roles.
The end of the ballet Mata Hari shows how Margaretha Zelle (her real name) died in 1917 at the age of 41 in front of a firing squad, after being accused by the French of being a double spy. But, as choreographer Ted Brandsen said on the eve of this special world premiere, ‘Mata Hari may have been executed, but her vitality and her power to fulfil her dreams live on’. Brandsen visualises this beautifully in the way a young National Ballet Academy pupil flits among the group of soldiers and the dead Margaretha; the same girl who brings the young Margaretha Zelle to life in the opening scenes of the ballet.
At the premiere, this role was danced by the 10-year-old NBA1 pupil Maria Zatoka, who received thunderous applause when the curtain fell, along with her classmates Manon Veenstra (11) and Simon Kortmann (10) – who danced the roles of Zelle’s children, Louise and Norman. The three children shared the stage with ballerina Anna Tsygankova, as the adult Mata Hari, dancing one of the greatest roles of her life, supported by various male principals of Dutch National Ballet.
Besides Maria Zatoka, the role of the young Margaretha Zelle is danced by Elin Borgman and Claudia Nowak Martinez, and Diede Schuur, Aafke Wolles, Jesse ten Have and Noah Rietveld are dancing the roles of Zelle’s children.
In addition, five boys from NBA7 are involved in the ballet as servants, and Tim van Poucke and Jacob Roter (both students from the pre-professional programme) are understudying corps de ballet roles.
The role of the adult Margaretha Zelle, alias Mata Hari, will be danced alternately by principals Anna Tsygankova, Igone de Jongh and Maia Makhateli.
Performances of Mata Hari until 25 February in Dutch National Opera & Ballet in Amsterdam. www.operaballet.nl