As a 15-year-old ballet student, Bonnie Doets took part in the Prix de Lausanne. She danced a classical variation from Le Corsaire, but also a modern solo by Ed Wubbe, who was unknown to her at the time.
It turned out to be an experience that turned everything upside down, terrifying and fantastic at the same time. "For the first time someone asked me to improvise, for the first time someone gave me all the space I needed to look for my own strengths, for what I wanted to convey." The result was that, to everyone's dismay, she turned down a contract with the Dutch National Ballet and chose Scapino Ballet Rotterdam. "I fell in love straightaway, although I didn't know what it was yet."
Almost thirty years later, she is still one of the main faces of Scapino. "It is very special that I have been able to keep going this long, that I can do this physically. If your body works against you, this is impossible."
There have been times when the idea of stopping came up: when she had her children in 2009 and 2011, when she was struggling with injuries, when she had to undergo surgery. But working with so many different choreographers and fellow dancers, and the constant inspiration she draws from them, always won out. "My career never played out in one line either, even in working with Ed, because he too went through new artistic phases all the time."
I now look in places within myself where I didn't look twenty years ago.
Looking back, she says, she has experienced many more highs than lows. "And those lows have always had their function, so that in the end they also became highs." She wishes it for everyone, such a long career. Because the older you get, the more layers you can add to your dancing. "You get the chance to re-colour your work, to fill it in in a new way, and that gives so much satisfaction. I'm now looking in places in myself where I wasn't looking 20 years ago."
It is not only her own 'pie in the sky', contemporary dance, that feeds her. Also classical ballet - "my first love" - theatre, music. Dedication, giving your all, that's important to her. Just like honesty, in art and in human relationships. "Whether an artist shocks or pampers you, whether a production is exuberant or excels in simplicity, as long as it expresses integrity, an origin, necessity, surrender. That is what touches me."
- 1974, Hilversum, The Netherlands
- Scapino Dansacademie
- Nationale Balletacademie
- With Scapino since
- Scholarships, awards and prizes
- Semifinal Prix de Lausanne - 1989
- Final New York International Ballet Competition - 1993
- Order of merit, Stichting Dansersfonds ’79 - 2007
- Gouden Zwaan, VSCD - 2013
My body doesn't recover as fast as it used to, but within that 'limitation' I find a new strength, a new freedom.
At Scapino she also meets her husband, world champion breakdancer Paulo Nunes. "Ed asked him and his group 010-bBoyz in 2000 for the programme Twools and so he is also the matchmaker for our marriage." Daughter Luca plays in the top 10 of the Dutch youth tennis rankings, son Liam has his parents' dancing talent, but does not yet know what he wants to do with it.
Bonnie too, she realises, will have to make choices in the years to come. Ed Wubbe's imminent departure brings the end of her dance career closer, she says. She no longer sees herself dancing in this 'exciting new era' for Scapino, but, depending on developments, she might take on a new role as ballet master, repetiteur, or sparring partner. Because a life without it is still hard to imagine. "My heart is here!"
Photography: Khalid Amakran | Interview: Astrid van Leeuwen