Vivian Sauerbreij

< >

1989 Amsterdam (the Netherlands)

National Ballet Academy, Amsterdam

Europa Danse, Rennes; Introdans (since August 2010)

“Lamppost!” Oops...

When she hears the code word – because that’s what it is – Vivian Sauerbreij knows exactly what’s meant. Don’t stare! It’s a trick used by her parents to remind their daughter about something that children don’t know is “wrong”. “I could get absolutely fascinated by someone I saw. Nowadays I can conceal it better, but I’m still a passionate observer. I simply find people extremely interesting.”

Her mum calls vivian 'a gift' 

This thoughtful dancer also regularly takes a look at herself. She has clear ideas about who she is and what she finds important. “As a child I was shy and quiet. Not that I was really insecure; unassuming would be a better word. My younger sister Jill was much more up-front and lively than me. She’s studying fashion now. We get on very well together. ”Vivian’s mother still calls her oldest daughter “a gift”. “That’s nice, isn’t it?” Her father, a manager at a company making paper machines, often had to go on business trips abroad. “He always brought home gifts for us!”

Auditioning for the National Ballet Academy at the age of ten

Vivian began training dance at the age of eight. “I had a friend at school who want to ballet class. I went along with her one time and I just loved it!” It turned out she was highly talented. At the age of ten she auditioned at the National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam – after her teacher had put in a word for her – and she was accepted. “I was over the moon! We lived in Almere, about an hour’s journey from the academy, and together with another girl I travelled to school in Amsterdam every day by train, bus, tram and bike. My father went part of the way with me, then he had to leave the train to go to work. I took classes for a total of ten years and learned so much. Every day was worth it!”

Soft outside, hard inside

“At school I was very impressed by a strict Russian guest teacher. If we didn’t listen properly she made us stand at the barre for half an hour. So formative! I was already quite persevering and disciplined by nature, and during my dance education these qualities grew even stronger. And it still brings me pleasure every day. ‘Soft outside, hard inside,’ says my mother. During my time at secondary school I started to express myself more. I literally said more. The training and my relationships with other students – and with my sister at home – helped me to become more assertive and independent. Nowadays I have no problem standing up for myself.”

Too young for a contract at Introdans

Following the National Ballet Academy she did a one-year internship at Introdans. But this wasn’t immediately followed by a contract because she was still too young. In retrospect she is thankful for the period that then followed. “Through Europa Danse I took lessons in Chartres and Rennes for six months and then performed all over Europe for a further six months. It was an amazing time in which I experienced so much.” But she still wanted to return to Arnhem. She’s quite clear about this: “I liked my internship year so much that I wanted to work at Introdans.” And the following year, in 2010, she got the job.

The leading role in Pulcinella

“I’m a strong and “clean” dancer in terms of technique. I don’t have particularly striking looks, but I put a lot of theatrical and physical expression into my performance. It was just fantastic getting a leading role in Pulcinella! I wanted it so much, because I can give everything I’ve got in roles like these. And apart from that I like working with Nils Christe, who choreographed the piece. He has a lot of respect for us dancers. Yulanne (de Groot, college and friend, ed.) and I danced in one of his works at school, and we really enjoyed it.” Another of her favourites is Jiří Kylián. “I just love his lyrical, flowing movements. Very challenging technically, and wonderful to dance.”

Dancing for Introdans is a reward

“Working at Introdans is the crowning touch to my dance education: a reward. Nowadays I have another life apart from my dance career. And I’m very happy that’s so. The dance world is very intense and just wonderful, but there’s more. Skyping with my mother-in-law for instance, talking about the best way to prepare a special soup. My boyfriend is Turkish and we’ve been together since I was sixteen. Now we’ve been living together in the Netherlands for two years and we’re doing great. I often watch Turkish TV series to relax. I can understand them just fine now!”