The development of theatrical dance in the Netherlands has historically centred on Amsterdam. The first ballet performances took place there in 1642 and 1645 (Ballet of the Five Senses). The first Amsterdam-based choreographer of note was Pietro Nieri whose most famous ballet was Peasant Life (1762). In the 19th century romantic ballet became popular through the choreographer Piet Grieve, whose most important work was The Golden Magic Rose or Harlequin Freed from Slavery (1819). Andries Voitus van Hamme (1828–68) made 115 three-act ballets for his own company of 60 dancers; his son, Anton, was also an active choreographer (1871–87). After 1890, however, ballet declined to the status of opera divertissements and there was little local creativity. Public interest was focused on visiting stars including Fuller, Duncan, and Pavlova. In 1941 the Ballet of the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg became influential in the renaissance of dance in the country, and after the Second World War companies like the Scapino Ballet and the Netherlands Opera Ballet and the Ballet der Lage Landen (the latter two united in 1959 as the Amsterdam Ballet) became active. In 1954 Sonia Gaskell established the Netherlands Ballet, which in 1961 evolved into Dutch National Ballet, now the country's leading classical company.
Modern dance emerged after a group of breakaway dancers left Gaskell's company in 1959 to found the more contemporary based Nederlands Dans Theater in The Hague. Under the direction of Jiří Kylián this company came to dominate the modern dance scene in the Netherlands, however the 1970s saw a rapid increase in other activity. Introdans was founded in Arnhem in 1971 by Tom Wiggers and Hans Focking. Acquiring its current name in 1979 it built up a repertory of modern dance and contemporary ballets, nurturing Dutch choreographers but also bringing in work by outsiders such as Ek, Child, and Nils Christie. Its current director Roel Voorintholt was appointed in 2005. In 1975 Kathy Gosschalk founded Werkcentrum Dans in Rotterdam to perform both Dutch and international repertory. It changed its name to Rotterdam Dancegroup in 1988 and eventually to Dance Works. Now led by Ton Simons and associate choreographer Bruno Listopard its wide repertory includes works by Amanda Miller, De Frutos, and others and it tours widely, in the Netherlands and abroad. In 1977 Bianca van Dillen, Beppie Blenkert, and Pauline Daniels were among the several founding members of Stichting Dansproduktie, a choreographic collective based in Amsterdam. The following year Krisztina de Châtel started her own group, which she has since merged with the Itzik Galili company. Amsterdam currently has a thriving modern dance culture, centred around the Amsterdam Theaterschool. Rotterdam Dance Academy is also one of the world's leading centres for the teaching of modern dance. Holland Dance Festival is held every year in The Hague.