Mischa van Leeuwen to leave Scapino Ballet Rotterdam after 25 years

In a surprise statement it has been announcement that Mischa van Leeuwen, Scapino’s most famous dancer, is retiring after 25 years from the company where he started in 1998. He is best known to the general public for his character roles in productions such as TING! and OSCAR.  As co-founder of the Rotterdam choreographic competition RIDCC, he remains active in the Dutch dance world.

Over the past 25 years, Mischa van Leeuwen developed from a strong, self-confident, physical dancer into an interpreter of major character roles. With his expressive body language and stage charisma he managed to bring both physical and emotional depth to his roles, such as that of a tormented clown in TING! or the tragic ringmaster in Oscar , made last year in collaboration with Theater Carré.

In the first years of his career, Mischa van Leeuwen and Jan Kooijman, with whom he developed a close friendship, were the defining dancers at Scapino, together with the other Scapino celebrity, Bonnie Doets. With her he formed a close couple throughout his dancing career who danced in almost all of Scapino choreographer Ed Wubbe’s pieces. Van Leeuwen grew up in Amsterdam and had a difficult childhood. Dance was, as he himself describes it, his lifebuoy and Scapino his new home. His last role, in a Scapino co-production with Esther Apituley, was that of the legendary dancer Vaslav Nijinsky in the acclaimed performance De Sprong van Nijinsky.

Ed Wubbe: “Mischa is a dancer who always stands out, a great strong dancer, charismatic and authentic. His intense interpretation of many dance pieces made them unforgettable impression. A special Scapino dancer who over the years grew into a versatile theater personality.”

RIDCC, Rotterdam International Duet Choreography Competition was founded in 2018 by Mischa van Leeuwen together with Scapino dancer and partner Maya Roest. With the competition they want to create a community where emerging makers gain experiences and make connections that are important for their further careers. The XL Production Award of one hundred thousand euros is made possible by the Droom en Daad Foundation.

Photo by and © Michael Hasted 2023

Listen to Michael Hasted talking to Mischa on ArtsTalk Radio a few months ago about De Sprong Van Nijinsky.