The sad end of the Lucent Danstheater in The Hague

For me, there are few things sadder than seeing a theatre being destroyed, even a relatively newish one. The Lucent Danstheater, former home of the Nederlands Dans Theater in the heart of The Hague will soon be no more.

Dr. Anton Philipszaal Lucent Danstheater was a concert hall and theater on the Spuiplein in The Hague. The complex was opened on 9th September 1987 as Danstheater, ‘s-Gravenhage. On 1st September 1989 the building was given a new name following a sponsorship agreement with the Dutch telecommunications group AT&T. The AT&T Danstheater later being known as The Lucent Danstheater which remained, until the end of last year, the home of the NDT.  

The building was designed by the architects Dick van Mourik and Peter Vermeulen and had a seating capacity of about 1800. The theatre was only ever temporary as plans were already being mooted for a major new cultural venue in the city centre. The design was characterized by the fact that the main hall was recognizable from the outside as a pink box. When the stucco started to peel, it was reapplied, but in a bright red color. The undulating roof was made with profiled steel sheets and was a remnant of earlier plans to build the Danstheater in Scheveningen. The mural with abstract dancing figures on the stage tower was designed by Madelon Vriesendorp. The additional functions were located in a shell around the box, which had a round shell made of dark glass.

The building was partially demolished to make way for the planned new Amare  although the NDT offices, rehearsal rooms and a small performing stage still remained in the building. The last major performance of the Nederlands Dans Theater took place in this theater on 17th May 2015 and the extensive renovation/new construction began for the Amare soon after. Smaller event were still held in the Danstheater. 

NDT’s  main local performance space then became the Zuiderstrandtheater in Scheveningen – the only theatre I have ever been in with sand swirling round the foyer. With the opening of the Amare at the end of 2021 NDT moved into it lock stock and barrel locating its offices, rehearsal rooms and main performance space there. The Lucent Danstheater became redundant and, by now, a bit of an eyesore – hence its final destruction.

At the time of writing, 28th January 2022, the stage-house of the Danstheater was a sad steel skeleton emerging from a pile of twisted metal and dusty rubble. A large green digger was standing centre stage giving the final performance with the passers-by, trams and buses as its only audience. No applause was forthcoming.    Michael Hasted   28th January 2022