Hamburg Ballet

The Hamburg Ballet
General information
Name The Hamburg Ballet
Local name Hamburg Ballett
Year founded 1973 (1973)
Founders John Neumeier
Principal venue Ballettzentrum Hamburg
Caspar-Voght-Straße 54,
20535 Hamburg, Germany
Senior staff
Director John Neumeier
Orchestra Hamburg State Opera
Official school The School of The Hamburg Ballet
  • Principal
  • Soloist
  • Corps de Ballet

The Hamburg Ballet is an internationally acclaimed ballet company based in Hamburg, Germany. Since 1973 it has been directed by the American dancer and choreographer John Neumeier. In addition there is The School of The Hamburg Ballet, established in 1978. The performances of the Hamburg Ballet are usually held at the Hamburg State Opera, while the training and education facility is the "Ballettzentrum Hamburg - John Neumeier". The Hamburg Ballet is well known for guest performances at home and abroad. In the season 2012/13 the company celebrated its 40th anniversary.


On August 16, 1973, John Neumeier took over as ballet Director and Chief Choreographer of the ballet department of the Hamburg State Opera. At that time the dancers worked at the opera the whole time, as the opera house included the stage and the ballet studios.

The first performance of the company under the new leadership was a Ballet Workshop ("Ballett-Werkstatt") titled "Classical Technique in Modern Choreographies" on September 9, 1973. Later the Ballet Workshops developed into a hallmark of The Hamburg Ballet. On September 30, 1973, the dancers presented their first program with "Divertimento No. 15", "Allegro Brillante", "Désir" and "Jeu de cartes“. In January, 1974 The Hamburg Ballet had its first premiere: "Romeo and Juliet" originally choreographed by John Neumeier for the Frankfurt Ballet in 1971. Neumeier danced Romeo, and Marianne Kruuse was Juliet. For the 40th anniversary, this ballet to Sergej Prokofjew’s score was revived on April 11th, 2013. On May 12th, 1974 the first world premiere of a ballet by John Neumeier took place in Hamburg. The ballet "Meyerbeer – Schumann" tells the story of the composers Giacomo Meyerbeer and Robert Schumann. The lead roles were danced by Max Midinet (Meyerbeer) and François Klaus (Schumann).

In 1974 the Hamburg Ballet was invited to perform abroad for the first time. Since then touring is part of every season of the Hamburg Ballet. Over the last 40 years the company has travelled to 29 countries and 4 continents - including France, Russia, China and Brazil. During the 2013/14 season they will perform in Costa Mesa (California) and Vienna (Austria). From June 14–22, 1975 the first Hamburg Ballet Days ("Hamburger Ballett-Tage") took place. Together with the “Nijinsky Gala”, which concludes the Ballet Days, they became a tradition. On January 1, 1978 John Neumeier founded the School of The Hamburg Ballet. Originally, the students trained at the Hamburg State Opera. Later the school moved to the “Bierpalast” and on September 23, 1989 the “Ballettzentrum Hamburg – John Neumeier” opened. The Ballet Center is the home of the company, the school and the National Youth Ballet (“Bundesjugendballett”), which was founded by John Neumeier in 2011.


Over the last 40 years, The Hamburg Ballet has developed a broad repertoire, which includes over one hundred and twenty of John Neumeier's choreographies. The main interest of the Director and Chief Choreographer of The Hamburg Ballet is to create new, contemporary forms in connection with the classical ballet tradition.

On stage

One of John Neumeier’s artistic focuses lies on the revision of evening-length narrative ballets such as "The Nutcracker" (1971), "Illusions - like Swan Lake" (1976), "A Cinderella’s Story" (1992), "Sylvia" (1997), which was originally created for the ballet of the Paris Opera, and "Giselle" (2000).

The repertoire of The Hamburg Ballet also includes a variety of ballets choreographed to orchestral music. Of special importance is John Neumeier’s "Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler" (1975). Taken together with other ballets set to the music by Mahler, Neumeier's works form a cycle. In addition, John Neumeier has created ballets to Johann Sebastian Bach's "Saint Matthew Passion" (1980) and "Christmas Oratorio" (Part I – III premiered in 2007, the complete work will premiere on December 8, 2013), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Requiem" (1991) and George Frideric Handel's "Messiah" (1999). In addition, various composers were commissioned to compose for John Neumeier's ballets. One of them is Alfred Schnittke, who contributed the music to "Peer Gynt" (1989). Lera Auerbach composed the music for "Préludes CV" (2003) and "The Little Mermaid" (2005).

In addition, the company dances ballets based on world literature. John Neumeier created "The Lady of the Camellias" (1978) based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas and "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1983) based on Tennessee Williams for Marcia Haydée. Neumeier has also created adaptations of Henrik Ibsen's "Peer Gynt" (1989), Homer's "Odyssey" (1995), Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull" (2002) and Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice” (2003). William Shakespeare plays a very important role for the Director and Chief Choreographer. With inspiration from the Elizabethan writer, John Neumeier choreographed “As You Like It” (1985), “Hamlet” (1985), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (1977), “Romeo and Juliet” (1971), “VIVALDI or What you will” (1996) and “Othello” (1985). A revival of the latter opens the season 2013/14. Most recently John Neumeier turned Ferenc Molnár's "Liliom" into a ballet (2011).

Another important aspect in John Neumeier's artistic work is the exploration of musical genre. He staged Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story" (1978) and "On the Town" (1991). He also developed a rhapsodic form, which can be found in the ballet revue "Shall we dance?" (1986) and in "Bernstein Dances" (1998).

The Hamburg Ballet does not only dance creations by John Neumeier though. The repertoire of the company includes ballets by George Balanchine, Maurice Béjart, John Cranko and Mats Ek, among others. There are also reconstructions of historical choreographies, such as Vaslav Nijinsky's "Le Sacre du Printemps" by Millicent Hodson. In the season 2010/11 the works of "Dances at a Gathering" and "The Concert" by Jerome Robbins became part of the repertoire as "Chopin Dances". In 2012, The Hamburg Ballet performed “Renku”, choreographed by company members Yuka Oishi and Orkan Dann. The same year a new production of John Cranko’s Onegin was staged at the Hamburg State Opera.

Film versions

A film version of John Neumeier's "Lady of the Camellias" premiered in 1987. The lead roles were danced by Marcia Haydée (Marguerite) and Ivan Liska (Armand Duval). In addition, the German broadcasters NDR and ZDF filmed "Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler", "Wendung" (String Quintet in C major by Franz Schubert), "Kinderszenen" (1974) and "Othello". "Illusions - like Swan Lake", "Death in Venice" and "Saint Matthew Passion" with dancers of The Hamburg Ballet were also filmed.


Ballet Workshops

Since 1973 the Ballet Workshops (“Ballett-Werkstätte”), shown several times each season, are traditionally held on a Sunday morning. John Neumeier speaks about a topic, which is then illustrated by the company. He explains creative processes to the public and examines other dance related subjects, such as: "The Petipa Era" (1978), "Revival of a Ballet - Copy or Creation" (1987) or "Danced Violence" (1988). Newer Ballet Workshops covered themes such as "Orpheus and...", "The Little Mermaid reappears" or "Debut". A four-part Ballet Workshop was recorded by the German broadcaster NDR. It made the work of the main soloists in the 80s (Marianne Kruuse, Ivan Liska, Kevin Haigen) known to a wider audience. In 1982 four more workshops were produced for television. In the season 2012/13 John Neumeier and his company gave the audience insight into the development of his ballets for the 200th time.

Hamburg Ballet-Days

Since 1975 the Hamburg Ballet Days (“Hamburger Ballett-Tage”) have been established as festival at the end of the season. The festival usually starts with the premiere of a new ballet. In 2014, The Hamburg Ballet Days will open with the premiere of John Neumeier's "Tatiana" with a newly commissioned score by Lera Auerbach, a ballet after the verse novel by Alexander Puschkin. The festival concludes with the "Nijinsky-Gala", where The Hamburg Ballet and international acclaimed guest dancers present excerpts of various ballets. The Gala is dedicated to the great dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. Traditionally, during the festival another renowned ballet company gives guest performances at the Hamburg State Opera. In 2010, the Tokyo Ballet visited, and in 2013 the Bayerisches Staatsballett as well as Les Ballets de Monte Carlo were guests in Hamburg. At the end of the season 2013/14 Nederlands Dans Theater will give guest performances.

The Ballet Center Hamburg – John Neumeier

entrance of Ballettzentrum Hamburg

The School of The Hamburg Ballet was established in 1978. The ballet students are taught at the Ballet Center Hamburg (“Ballettzentrum Hamburg – John Neumeier”). The building, once a secondary school for girls, is one of the last buildings designed by the famous Hamburg architect Fritz Schumacher. There are nine ballet studios, where both members of the company, as well as students, can train and rehearse. In addition, the boarding school can house 35 young people.

The international students, aged 10 to 18 years, are educated to become professional stage dancers. The syllabus gives priority to all aspects of classical-academic dance. In addition, there are courses on modern dance technique, dance composition and folklore. The criteria for admission to the school are physical aptitude, rhythmic ability, dancing disposition, talent for improvisation and the level of classical ballet technique in relation to age. The entrance exams are held every year in spring. The minimum age for the preschool is 7 to 9 years, for training classes 10 to 16 years and for theater classes 16 to 18 years. Today about 80% of the company dancers have been educated at the School of The Hamburg Ballet.

The school is supported by the clubs Friends of the Hamburg Ballet Centre (“Freunde des Ballettzentrums Hamburg”) and Ballet Friends Hamburg (“Ballettfreunde Hamburg”). The Ballet Centre is also the home of the first German National Youth Ballet (“Bundesjugendballett”), but legally it does not belong to The Hamburg Ballet.

The Foundation John Neumeier

The Foundation John Neumeier was established on February 23, 2006. Together with the Hamburg State Opera and the Ballet Center Hamburg, the Foundation represents the third part of John Neumeier’s artistic activities in the city. The foundation under curator Hans-Michael Schäfer serves science, research and documentation. Its function and aim is to preserve and portray the history of ballet through words and images, documents and objects. In this way, the achievements of John Neumeier and in particular his work with The Hamburg Ballet will be displayed.

Ensemble 2015/2016


Carolina Agüero, Silvia Azzoni, Hélène Bouchet, Leslie Heylmann, Anna Laudere, Carsten Jung, Edvin Revazov, Alexandre Riabko, Lloyd Riggins, Alexandr Trusch, Ivan Urban

Guest Artists

Alina Cojocaru, Alessandra Ferri, Amilcar Moret Gonzales


Mayo Arii, Florencia Chinellato, Patricia Friza, Karen Azatyan, Christopher Evans, Dario Franconi, Aleix Martínez, Konstantin Tselikov, Kiran West

Corps de Ballet

Kristína Borbélyová, Jemima Bowring, Sara Coffield, Yaiza Coll, Winnie Dias, Futaba Ishizaki, Xue Lin, Aurore Lissitzky, Ekaterina Mamrenko, Emilie Mazon, Hayley Page, Yun-Su Park, Lucia Rios, Madoka Sugai, Maria Tolstunova, Priscilla Tselikova, Miljana Vracaric, Emanuel Amuchástegui, Braulio Alvarez, Jacopo Bellussi, Graeme Fuhrman, Nicholas Gläsmann, Marc Jubete, Aljoscha Lenz, Marcelino Libao, Matias Oberlin, Florian Pohl, Lennart Radtke, Dale Rhodes, Sasha Riva, Thomas Stuhrmann, Lizhong Wang, Eliot Worrell


Georgina Hills, Nako Hiraki, Greta Jörgens, Leeroy Boone

Former dancers

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