Face of Flanders: Nadia Deferm


After three decades abroad, a former ballerina turned ballet teacher returns to Antwerp and her alma mater

New artistic director

Nadia Deferm, a former ballerina turned ballet teacher, has been appointed artistic director of the Royal Ballet School in Antwerp. She takes over on 1 September from the American Michael Shannon, who served for four years.

The school should not be confused with the company Royal Ballet Flanders, which caused an artistic stir earlier this month when it dismissed its artistic director, Assis Carreiro, who was accused by staff of having administrative but no practical dance experience.

No such problem in the case of Deferm. She graduated from the Ballet School in 1984 and went straight into the corps de ballet of the Royal Ballet of Flanders, shortly after the departure of the legendary Jeanne Brabants.

As a student, Deferm, 48, danced with the company in The Nutcracker, and she was soon plunged into the classics of the repertoire, including Petruschka, The Rite of Spring, Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella, first in the corps and later as a soloist.

It was as a soloist that she first travelled to Germany, but it was as a teacher that she decided to remain, obtaining a Master’s in dance teaching at Folkwang University in Essen, Germany. She then spent the following years as teacher and youth co-ordinator in Wiesbaden and Essen, before working for 11 years at the head of the international ballet school BVC in Wiesbaden. Now, 27 years after leaving, she returns to Antwerp and her alma mater.

The Royal Ballet School opened in 1951, and remains to this day the only secondary school in Belgium for dance students, offering a mixture of artistic, practical and academic studies. There are 92 students, and Deferm’s first reaction was a pledge to put their well-being first, together with contact with parents.

She also intends to strengthen the contacts with her other alma mater, the Royal Ballet, and to use her international contacts to give the Ballet School a more international profile. 

Photo courtesy Royal Ballet School 

After three decades abroad, a former ballerina turned ballet teacher returns to Antwerp and her alma mater.

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