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John Neumeier


A globally renowned American choreographer, director of the Hamburg Ballett and one of the most influential dance creators of the past half-century.

John Neumeier was born on 24 February 1939 in Milwaukee, where he received his initial dance training. He went on to study ballet in Chicago and, after completing English literature and theatre studies at Marquette University in his native city, Copenhagen and London (Royal Ballet School). In 1963, he joined the Stuttgarter Ballett. In 1969, he was named director of the Ballett Frankfurt. Since 1973, he has been director and chief choreographer of the Hamburg Ballett. In 1978, he founded the Hamburg Ballett School.

Neumeier has created more than 120 works, including numerous feature-length narrative ballets, with the best known being The Lady of the Camellias (1978), Romeo and Juliet (1971), Hamlet Connotations (1976), Sylvia (1997), The Little Mermaid (2010), Liliom (2011) and Nijinsky (2000). He has made adaptations of the major classics, e.g. The Nutcracker (1971), Illusions - Like Swan Lake (1976) and The Sleeping Beauty (1978); choreographed a number of pieces to music by Gustav Mahler, e.g. Song of the Earth, Symphonies No. 1,  3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10; and other composers, as well as ballets inspired by mythological and Biblical themes, such as Messiah (1999), The Legend of Joseph (1977) and Saint Matthew Passion (1981).

John Neumeier has worked with leading dance companies worldwide, choreographing for the Hamburg Ballett, Stuttgarter Ballet, Opéra national de Paris, Royal Danish Ballet, Wiener Staatsoper, and others. His pieces have been staged by the American Ballet Theatre in New York, the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, the Bolshoi in Moscow, the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto, etc.

He has garnered numerous accolades and honours, including the Prix Benois de la Danse for Best Choreography (1992) and Lifetime Achievement (2016), the Nijinsky Award (2006), the Prix de Lausanne for Lifetime Achievement (2017), the Dance Magazine Award (1983), the Deutscher Tanzpreis (1988 and 2008), and other coveted prizes. In 2021, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark awarded him the Ingenio et arti medal, bestowed to prominent scientists and artists.