Ton Wiggers

If Ton Wiggers (Arnhem, 1947) hadn’t had the nerve to start a dance company for the eastern Netherlands in a rehearsal space that was literally between the sliding doors of his living room, then Introdans would never have seen the light of day. It was in the early 1970s and Wiggers, a pupil at the dance academy in Arnhem, had been asked to join a new, small Dutch dance company. When this didn’t get off the ground due to differences of opinion, Wiggers and his life partner at the time Hans Focking said: ‘Then we’ll do it ourselves!’. And so they founded Studio L.P., the forerunner of Introdans and named after the street Van Lawick van Pabstraat where Wiggers lived.

Unique achievement

Wiggers has now been a member of the Introdans management for more than forty years – a unique achievement in the Dutch dance community. He was Artistic Director for 33 years, with Hans Focking in the post of Commercial Director, and now for almost the last ten years he has been General Director. In this post he has closely collaborated with Roel Voorintholt (Joint Artistic Director 1989-2005) to whom he transferred the artistic directorship in 2005. And in all these years the aim of the company has remained unchanged: to present high-quality dance to the largest and most varied audience possible, employing non-traditional and if necessary unorthodox means. Wiggers has always been averse to elitist and lofty artistic pretensions. He likes dance that is accessible, stylish, attractive to all and preferably with a little glamour and extravagance. In the early years he and his company focused exclusively on the eastern Dutch provinces – performing in every possible venue – but under his leadership the company gradually built up a global reputation, with steadily growing audience figures.

Theatrical gestures and passionate drama

Wiggers has made more than fifty choreographies for Introdans. Especially in the early years, partly due to a lack of budget for guest choreographers, his work formed an important part of the repertoire. He creations are marked by solid and often inspired craftsmanship and a strong preference for big, theatrical gestures, passionate drama and narrative elements. Although he is modest about his own qualities as a choreographer – he has never claimed to be particularly gifted or innovative – Wiggers has quite a few highlights and audience favourites to his name in the Introdans repertoire, including Uhuru, Mater, Gilles, Requiem, Het Debat and Passage. As Artistic Director he also made great efforts to attract interesting (guest) choreographers. Many young, talented and later famous dance makers received their first opportunities at Introdans.

Repetiteur, choreographer, teacher and director

Besides his work as a choreographer and as a striking, expressive dancer – even after ending his dance career he still regularly performed character roles – Wiggers has also distinguished himself as a coach and teacher. He already started teaching during his studies at the Arnhem Dance Academy, where he took both the stage dance and dance teaching tracks. He has helped many young Dutch dancers to establish a professional career, as a result of which Introdans still features an exceptionally large number of Dutch dancers – even now that it has become the third dance company in the Netherlands, after Het Nationale Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. And Wiggers also looks after dancers after their active dance career has ended: he has trained various dancers in the roles of repetiteur, choreographer or, in the case of Roel Voorintholt, artistic director.