An internship that culminates in an appointment, it happens more often. But combining the classroom with the big theatres, that is relatively unique. Yaniv Dagan (22) happens to it. As a student at the Fontys Dance Academy and a regular performer at Panama Pictures. “I think it’s super nice to have that switch,” he says.

He started when he was eight, at Boys Action. “That’s a dance school for boys in Arnhem, with satellite schools in Nijmegen, Groesbeek and Zwolle. I liked dance, but hardly knew what was possible. The teacher there showed us the ropes very well. His lessons covered everything: a bit of modern, some classical, jazz for technique, acrobatics. But also a lot of breakdance, to keep the attention of little boys like me.”

Dance and circus

Although his enthusiasm for modern dance in particular grew over the years, Yaniv did not consider a dance education when he had to choose a further education after high school. “I wanted to study something theoretical, had never thought of a career in dance,” he says. It is again a teacher from Boys Action who enthuses him and draws his attention to dance school open days; Yaniv auditions last minute and is accepted at the Fontys Dance Academy.

In the third year of that course, dance students take part in a project outside school. “One of them was at Panama Pictures, working with 11 dance and circus students on an adapted version of The Future is not what it used to be. I wanted that. I already liked acrobatics at Boys Action, had remembered some of it but hadn’t done much with it since. At Fontys, you also have little contact with the circus school, which is in another building. I knew Panama Pictures, I found their combination of dance and circus very interesting. Now I could explore that circus interest further.”

As equals

Working in a rehearsal room is a bit different from being taught at a training course. “Yes, I found that difficult at first. At Panama Pictures, you don’t have a teacher who stands above you and shows you what to do. Here, you work on a performance together as equals, there is no right or wrong. You are given ideas, not as feedback but as suggestions: you can do this, try it like this. That really took some getting used to. But I think it’s super nice to have that switch.”

Moreover, the circus elements require new skills. “That was searching at times. And also quite scary sometimes, when you have to do a complicated movement while hanging very high. But I get time to try things, discover something new every day. Besides, everyone knew I was coming in as a dancer, no one expected me to already be able to do what, for example, Tarek does. By working with partnering and contact improvisation, in the set, you learn an awful lot and quickly.”

And after that?

The internship project pleased Yaniv and Panama Pictures so much that it culminated in a permanent role in the new show The Man who fell from the sky. “That’s really cool. We have a short tour now, which is easy to combine with school. And in July I graduate, I can do the long tour next season.”

“And after that? I hope to learn many more circus things at Panama Pictures, to become even more versatile by discovering different disciplines and different styles. But most of all, I hope to keep meeting great people. To be able to work with them.”