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Margaretha Geertruida Zelle
Leeuwarden Lonkt

Leeuwarden, salon IJ. van der Wielen
Early 1890

Young Greetje Zelle during her ballet lesson with dance and music master H. De Jong. Greetje will later become known as Mata Hari.


Later known as Mata Hari, the young girl actually took ballet lessons in this room. Leeuwarden 1890. It all started in Leeuwarden. In the millinery of her father with the hats with labels from countries all over the world and the dance lessons of dance and music master H. de Jong. The love for curiosity, adventure, music and dance.

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle born at the Kelders in Leeuwarden on August 7, 1876. Her father ran a thriving hat business. Until the age of 13 she received private French, German and English lessons. In the period 1883-1889 she lived in the Grote Kerkstraat and Greetje (so named by her father) received ballet lessons in halls IJ van der Wielen (current halls Schaaf) from dance and music master H. de Jong. Thus it is written in her father’s diary. However, her father went bankrupt in 1889, and her parents divorced. Shortly afterwards her mother died and at the age of 15 Margaretha left Leeuwarden.

An adventurous lady who, at the age of 18, responded to a personals advertisement from KNIL captain Rudolph MacLeod. Which she then married and had a son and daughter. In 1897 the MacLeod family left for the Dutch East Indies. She studied Indian traditions and culture. She also joined a local dance group. In 1897 she first used the stage name “Mata Hari”, Malay for Eye of the Dawn or Sun.

In 1899 their son died and they went back to the Netherlands, but a divorce followed not much later. In 1903, Margaretha left for Paris, where she performed for a while as an amazon in a circus under the name Lady MacLeod and where she earned a living as a painter’s model. In early 1905 she began performing the exotic dances that would eventually make her famous. She now took the name Mata Hari permanently.


The series Leeuwarden Lonkt
Maartje Roos has captured fragments from the lives of famous Leeuwarders in a contemporary manner. Recognizable locations and elements of the current city have been used to go back in time. The Stadhouderlijk Hof, for example, can be seen in its old form by using modern photo techniques and the still-present parts of buildings in the city.

In total, so far, 33 extras have posed in historical costumes. Three dogs, three horses, a cat and birds have appeared before the lens. Special ballet clothing had to be made. And it has been quite a quest to get the right ballet hall, pram, grand piano, mirror and car from that time. Even the actual household effects of Troelstra were unpacked from the Tresoar store in Winschoten for the first time after fifteen years.

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