Ben Holder

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It was while he still a student at Maurice Béjart’s Rudra School that British-born Ben Holder made his first choreography. “A ridiculously bad piece,” he says in retrospect, and initially he didn’t plan to make any more of his own works, either. But that changed a few years later: by then he was a dancer at Introdans and, during the rehearsals of the many new creations in which he was cast, he provided an increasingly large input. “Choreographers really like that, when you as a dancer make a lot of suggestions, but,” he says with a laugh, “at a certain moment I thought: hey, wait a moment, maybe I could make my own pieces, too.”

As he recounts, it was the premiere of DARKK, his first work from 2002, that opened his eyes. “I was so happy, the entire creative process had been such a fantastic experience.”

A field of sunflowers

Holder was born in Leamington, England, in 1978. He gained his dance education at the Elmhurst School for Theatre and Dance in Britain and at the Rudra School in Switzerland. Shortly after this he was engaged as a dancer at the Béjart Ballet Lausanne and at the Aalto Ballett in the German city of Essen. It was at a subsequent audition in Germany that he danced with a girl who triggered his enthusiasm for Introdans, where she was dancing at the time. “She was a superb dancer and that made me curious.” Holder then auditioned in Arnhem in 1998, and was accepted. “I was on cloud nine. What a fine group and what a diversity in the repertoire.” 

Holder danced at Introdans for ten years and, following his choreographic debut in 2002, made further successful works for the company. These included the exuberant Daylight, which a press critic compared to ‘a field of carefree sunflowers’, and Histoire du Soldat and Paradijs Poesjkin, two co-productions by Introdans, Toneelgroep Oostpool and Het Gelders Orkest (Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra). In 2005 Holder also made a choreography for Scapino Ballet Rotterdam: Futures Past.

A new start

Following the end of his dance career, however, Holder decided not to continue “a life that would always remain uncertain” as a freelance choreographer, but instead to take advantage of the Omscholingsregeling Dansers, or Retraining Programme for Dancers, and to choose a completely different career. He then attended a course at the international Miami Ad School, a top training institute for creative workers in the advertising sector. Since then he has worked for numerous prestigious advertising agencies in the Netherlands and abroad, where he developed campaigns for brands such as Heineken, Smirnoff, Converse, Philips, Coca Cola, Volkswagen, MINI and Volvo. In recent years he has also won various important advertising awards. He is currently senior creative at the Dutch branch of the advertising agency BSUR (Be as you are).

Communicating

He no longer dances (or at least not as a professional) but Holder still feels like a choreographer from time to time, and not only when he’s giving a final polish to one of his choreographies that’s being reprised by Introdans. “If as a choreographer you want to get more from your dancers than just the steps, then it all comes down to good communication. You must be able to put over your message really clearly, both visually and in words. And nowadays in my work as a creative that’s actually just the same.”

  1. DARKK (2002)
  2. Histoire du Soldat (2004)
  3. Melatonin (2005) 
  4. Daylight (2007)
  5. Paradijs Poesjkin (2007)
  6. Disillusioned (2007)