Igone de Jongh knighted in the Order of the Netherlands Lion

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On Saturday 10 December, prima ballerina of Dutch National Ballet, Igone de Jongh, was knighted in the Order of the Netherlands Lion by Eberhard van der Laan, the Mayor of Amsterdam. The ceremony took place after the first night of Coppelia, in which De Jongh had danced the main role. De Jongh completed most of her training at the National Ballet Academy. The prestigious royal honour was conferred on De Jongh for her great contribution to Dutch dance.

On Saturday 10 December, prima ballerina of Dutch National Ballet, Igone de Jongh, was knighted in the Order of the Netherlands Lion by Eberhard van der Laan, the Mayor of Amsterdam. The ceremony took place after the first night of Coppelia, in which De Jongh had danced the main role. De Jongh completed most of her training at the National Ballet Academy. The prestigious royal honour was conferred on De Jongh for her great contribution to Dutch dance.

De Jongh had evidently not been informed of the event beforehand. She was surprised and touched when  Eberhard van der Laan made a speech about her after the curtain calls for Coppelia. When he finished his speech of praise, the audience erupted in heartfelt applause. The Order of the Netherlands Lion is the oldest civil order in the Netherlands, and is awarded to people ‘who have rendered services to society of a truly exceptional nature’. Often, these services come about through very personal talents. In October, De Jongh had already received a Golden ‘Zwaan’ award, whereby the jury referred to her as an example to, and source of inspiration for countless young dancers, and ‘the personification of the international quality of our small country’.

De Jongh (37) trained from 1989 to 1995 at the National Ballet Academy, and then for a further year at the Royal Ballet School in London. In the programme for one of our Dancers of Tomorrow end-of-year performances, she said, “I cherish many good memories of my time at the National Ballet Academy. I travelled between Haarlem and Amsterdam every day with my best friend Charmaine Dumont. I thought it was all very tough and serious, and wanted to do the most difficult things possible in the ballet classes. The class I was in was a ‘vintage year’ with many talented dancers. That was good, because we were evenly matched. But after the primary school years, it got increasingly difficult. I realise now that we were ‘kicked’ into adulthood very quickly. But this strict approach was for a reason: it was a good preparation for life in a ballet company. Anyway, I never had any doubts about my choice”. She laughs, “I was far too ambitious and fanatical for that”.

Since 1996, De Jongh has been dancing with Dutch National Ballet, where she progressed through the ranks to become promoted to principal in 2003, at the age of just 23. Nowadays, she also regularly coaches young dancers, and for the past two seasons she was a member of the jury on the popular television programme Dance Dance Dance.

Photography: Jeroen Staats

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