Imre van Veldhoven, founder of Primo Ballerino
I am Imre van Veldhoven. Normally you would see a student here, but I already graduated. I am a teacher of Advanced Physics. I have always been quite active within Arago. I have been a board member and I am still in one committee. About two years ago I set up the association Primo Ballerino together with two roommates.
What can you tell me about your cultural background?
I started dancing when I was three years old. I danced ballet at quite a high level. When I came to the university there wasn’t an ballet association to join, so I kept dancing ballet at my home place on Friday nights. This was, however, quite stressful, because I always had to hurry for the train. If I was too late I just missed the classed. During performances I noticed that I didn’t know the dance fully, so I decided to join a non-student ballet association in Enschede. It was quite far away and the class took 1.5 hours. This meant that I already lost the whole night, so eventually I quitted dancing.
Why did you decide to dance ballet?
My two sisters are a bit older than me and already did ballet. As a child, my parents always found their ballet outfits in my room. I tried them on and then started dancing in my room. This was the reason my parents thought I would like to dance ballet so when I was three years old I already danced ballet. I never regretted that decision of my parents!
Of course it is quite hard to dance ballet as a boy. On the dance school I was also the only boy dancing ballet. Sometimes a boy would start with ballet, but most of them quitted after about two years. At primary school some boys bullied me because of dancing ballet. I, of course, didn’t really like that, but I always accepted that I did something different and I liked it so much that I didn’t really care about the other boys. I needed a lot of perseverance, but that is something I have in me. When I went to high school, everything changed. At that point people really had respect for me dancing ballet. At the university some people didn’t believe it at first, but after doing a pirouette they were really enthusiastic.
How did you get the idea to start a new association, Primo Ballerino, here at the university?
I have always thought it was weird that our university didn’t have a ballet association. Classical ballet is thé basic for every dance style. In my first year I sometimes joked about setting up an association with a friend of mine who also danced ballet at my home place. However, we never did so. About two and a half years ago I realized that I had a lot of experiences with board tasks. The committees I then did were kind of standard tasks for me. I didn’t really see the challenge anymore. During dinner in my house I told my roommates that I would really love to dance ballet again. At that point it started as a bit of a joke. At one night we had just planned to watch a movie about ballet and we called this a ‘meeting’. As a joke I had made an agenda. At the start of the ‘meeting’ we looked at the agenda and during the evening the question ‘why wouldn’t we just start this association’ was more and more asked. It was a really long night, but at that ‘meeting’ we decided to set up the association. This was a new challenge, and thus a new adventure! Funny enough, we still watched the movie that night.
What is your personal experience with dance/theatre/music/arts/games?
I always found the route to a performance very special; we would prepare for months and if you get on the stage it really gives a kick.
My family is really culturally raised; my mother liked acting and my brother and I like to entertain. My brother even has an entertainment company; 35 years ago he started a mini Efteling (we rebuild some attractions of the Efteling, but then a small version of the original one). I am now the director of that company for about 15 years. It still exists, but I think I want to quit because I don’t have the time anymore and I don’t live nearby. I go to the company once in three months, and I do not like that. I am not sure if someone wants to take over the company, but I hope someone will!
What did you learn from culture/the cultural association?
Perseverance; just do what you like and don’t let others lead your life. Just be yourself! O, and keep your back straightened!
What would you tell first years about Apollo/culture?
I advise the first years to watch and join the open classes. I always say to new roommates that they have to look for all the offers the university has. I also tell my students that culture here at the university is really broad. I hope more teachers will join me telling students to also look at the cultural offers.
What do you think of the culture at the University of Twente?
It was sad that there first wasn’t a ballet association. But I think the university offers a lot of different dance styles; at most university ballroom dancing dominates al the others styles, this is not the case here at the University of Twente.
Do you still dream of something to achieve with culture? Maybe at the University of Twente?
If I wanted to really reach something with ballet then I had to make that decision earlier. I was once told that I should do a dance education, but I have never done that. I liked dancing, but I didn’t want to dance as a carrier. If there is once thing I dream of then it is the existence of Primo Ballerino. I hope the association will continue for many years. Last September we changed the board of Primo Ballerino, and we as founders weren’t in the board anymore. At first I didn’t really like this, because it is a bit of a child for me. But I really believe the new board will do just as well as we did!
Do you still dream of something else to achieve?
Be sweet for others, always available to help others; I think that is the best thing I can do to help the world.