Dance Awards

Every year a number of important dance prizes are awarded at the Dutch Dance Festival: the Dutch Dance Festival Award Maastricht, the Swans and the Dioraphte Dance Award.

The Dutch Dance Festival Award Maastricht
The annual and national Dutch Dance Festival Award Maastricht is offered to support extremely promising choreographers who don't receive structural subsidy or financial support yet, but who have already realised a number of promising professional projects. Every year the Dutch Dance Festival invites dance professionals to nominate promising choreographers for this award. Both independent choreographers and choreographers who work at a dance company are eligible to be nominated for the award, as long as they have worked for some time in the Netherlands. With the award worth €10.000,- provided by the Municipality of Maastricht, the winning choreographer can initiate and develop a new production.

These nominated choreographers are invited to create a plan for a new work, that they will present to a dance commitee in the month before the festival. In 2017 the committee, chaired by festival director Ronald Wintjens, consisted of Mieke Damsma (Maastricht portfolio-holder for culture), Andrea Leine (choreographer), Branko Popovic (director Fashionclash), Peggy van Sebillen (general director Zuiderlicht) and Alida Dors (choreographer). After a dialogue with the nominated choreographers about their artistic plans and cultural entrepreneurship, the committee determines the winning choreographer. The production developed with the amount of money will be premiered at the festival the following year. 

In 2017 Shailesh Bahoran won the award for his plan for a new work inspired by b-boy Redo. This performance will premiere at the 21th edition of the Dutch Dance Festival in 2018.

Previous winners of the Dutch Dance Festival Award Maastricht:
Katja Heitmann (2016)
Loïc Perela (2015)
Cecilia Moisio (2014)
Giulio D'Anna (2013)
Alida Dors (2012)
Joeri Dubbe (2011)
Muhanad Rasheed (2010)
Erik Kaiel (2009)
Joost Vrouenraets (2008)
Monique Duurvoort (2007)

Dutch Dance Festival Award Young Audience
The Dutch Dance Festival Award Young Audience aims to contribute to the innovation of dance for young audiences in the Netherlands. With the amount of €10.000,- the winning talented creator can initiate and develop a new work for an audience between 4 and 18 years.

The Dutch Dance Festival sees that there is a lot happening in this lively industry and attaches great importance to the development of talent. ‘We want to stimulate this,’ emphasizes festival director Ronald Wintjens. ‘The introduction and awarding of this dance prize both invites creators to interact with young audiences and supports new initiatives, by giving this prize an annual and permanent place in the festival.’

The Dutch Dance Festival Award Young Audience has the same nomination procedure as the Dutch Dance Festival Award Maastricht. Professionals within the dance field are invited to nominate talented choreographers who create for a young audience up to 18 years old, and have not yet received any structural grants, for this incentive award. Resulting from this are three finalists.

The nominated creators present their plan for a new work to a committee. The committee, in 2017 consisting of Valentijn Byvanck (director Marres, Huis voor Hedendaagse Cultuur), Wies Bloemen (artistic director, Danstheater Aya), Marc Maris (director, Festival Jonge Harten) and Lennart  Monaster (director and actor, Het Laagland) and under the chairmanship of Ronald Wintjens, will choose the winner after a dialogue with the nominated choreographers about their artistic plans and cultural entrepreneurship.

During the 20th edition of the festival in 2017, the first winner of the prize was announced. Gaia Gonnelli won with her plan for a new work called Papier (3+), which will premiere at the Dutch Dance Festival in 2018. 

The Dutch Dance Festival Internationalization Prize
Every year, a jury of international programmers sees all the productions in the festival and chooses the work with the greatest international potential. The maker of that production then receives the Dutch Dance Festival Internationalization Prize. The prize money of €5,000 is invested in publicity materials for the international market. Previous winners have been Amos Ben-Tal/OFFprojects (2016), WArd/waRD (2015) and NBprojects in collaboration with the Tomoko Mukaiyama Foundation (2014).

The winner of 2017 is ISH, who won the prize for the dance production IGNITE. The prize was awarded on Sunday 8 October during the Natafelen op zondag [Hanging Around on Sunday].

The Swans
The Swans (De Zwanen), the annual ‘Oscars’ of the Dutch dance world, are presented by the VSCD, the Association of Theatres and Concert Halls, for the categories ‘most impressive dance achievement’ and ‘most impressive dance production’. All nominated companies, choreographers and dancers have been conspicuous the previous season for their exceptional artistic quality.

There is also a Golden Swan, which will be awarded to a person who made an important contribution to the Dutch dance world with his of her dance career. It's not possible to nominate people for the Golden Swan and it will not be awarded every year.  

Nominations for the ‘most impressive dance production’ 2018:
RULE OF THREE from GRIP by choreography Jan Martens
The Hidden Floor from Nederlands Dans Theater by choreography Franck Chartier
We Are Nowhere Else But Here by Stephen Shropshire Foundation,  co–production Korzo Producties by choreography Stephen Shropshire.

Nominations for the ‘most impressive achievement in dance’ 2018:
Guido Dutilh for his role in Wir sagen uns Dunkles choreography by Marco Goecke
Gil Gomes Leal for his role in Aghori choreography by Shailesh Bahoran
Marina Bilterijst, Gilda Federica Cesario, Alina Fejzo, Mariagrazia Nacci and Martina Orlandi for their roles in Thron choreography by Krisztina de Châtel


The VSCD awards have been awarded since 1983 and were since that time known as the Theaterdansprijzen [Theatre Dance Prizes]. In 2003 the awards became known as The Swans. The award itself is a beautiful bronze sculpture made by choreographer and visual artist Toer van Schayk. The Swan is intended to honour the achievements of dancers and companies and to bring those achievements to the attention of a wide public. 

Read more about The Swans.