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05 augustus 2020 | Nieuws

The Piket Art Prizes in times of corona (34): Hester Seelen

Theatre makers, actors, visual artists, and dancers are much affected by government measures to keep the corona virus under control. What is the impact of these measures on the young (former) nominees and winners of the Piket Art Prizes? Part 34: Hester Seelen.

Hester was totally unaware she was on the radar of the Piket Art Prizes’ jury this year. “I thought ‘me?, why me?’ It was really a surprise and the nomination gives me self-confidence and inspires me to just carry on with what I’m doing and perhaps even add a little extra.” She feels honoured to be next to fellow nominees Boston Gallacher and Lukas Karvelis. “They’re both fantastic dancers, tremendously creative.” She never saw Lukas perform live, but based on what she saw online she finds he is “someone who has very much his own style.” Hester has been dancing since she was very small. “I was about three when I did parent-toddler dance classes. When the course was finished, I didn’t want to move on to ballet classes, but for some reason I changed my mind when I was about eight.” One of her teachers gave her the advice to go and have a look at the Royal Conservatory. It didn’t immediately appeal to her. “The teachers gave me a lot of attention so I thought I was doing badly. It was only later that I realized they may have seen potential.” In the end, Hester auditioned and was accepted. “At first I wanted to be a ballet teacher. Later I found out that I really want to become a professional dancer. I would very much like that,” Hester says. She describes herself as a dancer who seeks to convey a certain feeling or a certain energy. “Via expression, for instance. I find that very important and it comes quite naturally to me. I don’t have to make an effort to express myself on stage.”

Impact of the measures

Hester had a contract waiting for her with Ballet Dortmund, and a traineeship with Introdans. But both fell through because of corona. “It was one of my greatest fears come true: not to be able to gain professional experience. But I immediately thought ‘I’m not giving up,’ although it’s now quite hard to see what the future will bring. But well, moving makes me happy.” As a result of the corona crisis, Hester will remain at the Royal Conservatory for another year. “I could have graduated if I’d been able to accept the contract.” In mid-March, Hester thought its quite “chill” to have a whole weekend off, because the dance department had to discuss corona measures. “We usually dance on Saturdays, too, you see. But the weekend became three months… The school let us decide ourselves what method to use to keep in form. I thought it was good that nothing was obligatory.” Hester did not slacken the reins and drew up a tight training schedule. The day started with running, followed by a ballet class and improvisation. “When I realized the situation was worse than I thought, I decided to use corona to become a better dancer. It’s especially at a time like this that moving makes me truly happy. It also helped me enormously to take my mind off things. When I dance, I don’t think of anything else.”

Photograph of Hester for a campaign for the Royal Conservatory’s Open Day.

So what now?

“I’m going to Germany for a week to hike in the mountains,” Hester says. But she also has plans to take extra dance classes in Amsterdam. The nomination has made her think about ways to use various creative forms. “I would like to develop a dance concept, think photographs or video, to challenge myself. I want to express myself in different creative ways.” Hester is determined to keep developing and move forward.

Hester at the Royal Conservatory. Photo Sacha Grootjans

Plans for the future

“My greatest dream is to become a professional dancer. It doesn’t much matter where,” Hester says. But if she could choose, there is a company she greatly admires: Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv (Israel). “It’s very modern, you can hardly get more modern. But neo-classical ballet also appeals to me.” At the moment there are no performances in which Hester will take part, but do keep an eye on the Piket Art Prizes website for more news.

Photo: Hessel Waalewijn