Umanoove/Didy Veldman Makes U.S. Debut at Jacob’s Pillow

July 3, 2019 – (Becket, MA) Jacob’s Pillow presents the U.S. debut of London-based company Umanoove with The Happiness Project in the Doris Duke Theatre, July 17-21. Created and performed in collaboration with celebrated Romanian violinist/composer Alexander Balanescu, Didy Veldman’s theatrical, full-length work explores the eternal search for fulfillment, praised as “a joy at every turn” (Scotland Herald). The Guardian lauds, “marking the long-awaited launch of Veldman’s own company, it promises even better things to come.”


“Didy Veldman has a deep relationship with the Pillow, I am thrilled to present the U.S. debut of her new company—The Happiness Project is a lovely, eloquently textured work that is joyous and deeply moving,” says Jacob’s Pillow Director Pamela Tatge.


Internationally renowned Dutch dance artist and DanceEast Choreographic Development Award recipient, Didy Veldman launched her own company in 2016 with The Happiness Project.

Featuring four dancers described as “fabulous, theatrically expressive, as well as technically assured” (The Guardian), The Happiness Project takes the audience on a journey through varying manifestations of our search for happiness. Violinist Balanescu takes his own form in the work as a musician who moves through the dancers, “shadowing them as if urging them to feel even more intently” (The Guardian).


In Veldman’s own words, “The Happiness Project examines the idea of happiness as something we strive for, as something fleeting, and as something that can be very elusive or even absent.” Love, inclusion, and commercialization are some of the many themes explored through the use of props—four boxes are shifted around the stage, a plastic sheet flows through the space, and a translucent cloak is worn by the dancers as clever solos and duos unfold. The work explores how each individual deals with seeking happiness, and “encourages its audience to experience dance as a surge of emotion” (The Guardian).


After a performance career spanning 14 years with Scapino Ballet, Geneva Ballet, Alias Company, and Rambert Dance Company, and creating over 45 works for 25 leading international companies including Cullberg Ballet, Goteborg Ballet, and Icelandic Dance Company, Veldman created The Happiness Project in 2016, marking a new beginning with her own company Umanoove. The company title Umanoove is a nod to her desire to discover movement, combining the words human, move, you, and manoeuver.



Based in London, Didy Veldman created Umanoove in 2016. Through Umanoove, Veldman seeks to explore and discover to develop her own theatrical movement language. She collaborates closely with different art forms and creates work that is touching, engaging, physical, theatrical, humorous, and accessible. Veldman finished touring her new production The Knot throughout the U.K., Jersey, and Copenhagen in 2018. She is currently in research and development at DanceEast in the U.K. for her new work, @Home, with two dancers and composer Sabio Janiak, made possible with support from ACE and DanceEast.


Didy Veldman, born in 1967, was trained in numerous techniques at the Scapino Academy in Amsterdam. She worked with international choreographers such as Jiří Kylián, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Christopher Bruce, Kim Brandstrup, Nils Christe, Glen Tetley, Robert Cohan, Lindsey Kemp, and many others. She began choreographing in 1987, creating work for Scapino Ballet, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Britain’s Rambert Dance Company.


Veldman also has a keen interest in teaching contemporary classes and workshops. She has taught contemporary classes at the National Ballet School in Amsterdam; The Royal Ballet School in London; Codarts in Rotterdam; The Ballet Boyz in London; McDonald College in Sydney, Australia; Rambert Dance Company and Rambert School; London School of Contemporary Dance; The Prix de Lausanne; and the Youth American Grand Prix in New York, among others.



Didy Veldman first presented her choreography at Jacob’s Pillow in 2005 when Les Grands Ballets Canadiens performed TooT. She has since presented other works, and has been a Guest Artist Choreographer for The School at Jacob’s Pillow in 2010, 2013, and 2018, and is Co-Director of the Contemporary Program at The School at Jacob’s Pillow during Festival 2019.

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