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The heart of the company is Ballet Director and Chief Choreographer John Neumeier, who has been leading the HAMBURG BALLET since 1973 and has also been its Artistic Director since 1996. His ballets form the core of the extensive and varied repertory: they range from his new versions of evening-length story ballets to musicals and to his symphonic ballets, especially those based on Gustav Mahler’s compositions, as well as his choreographies to sacred music, such as Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion and Christmas Oratorio or Mozart’s Requiem. Another focus has always been his adaption of world literature, including The Seagull after Chekhov, Peer Gynt after Ibsen, Lady of the Camellias after Dumas, Death in Venice after Mann, Othello after Shakespeare or Parzival – Episodes and Echo based on medieval texts about the myth of the holy grail. His very personal exploration of Nijinsky, the famous member of the Ballets Russes, and most recently Le Pavillon d’Armide were celebrated around the world. His most recent ballet Orpheus world premiered in Hamburg in December 2009. John Neumeier is a master at combining classical ballet tradition with contemporary forms in his works, all the while blazing his very own path. Renowned composers have created music for his ballets, including Alfred Schnittke for Peer Gynt and Lera Auerbach for Préludes CV as well as most recently The Little Mermaid. With regard to costume and set design, he has collaborated with designers such as Giorgio Armani, Jil Sander, Peter Schmidt and most recently Albert Kriemler of Akris. His choreographies are not only part of the Hamburg repertory, but are performed by companies all over the world. During the 2011-2012 season The Little Mermaid will be danced by the Stanislavsky Ballet, Lady of the Camellias by the Royal Danish Ballet as well as A Streetcar Named Desire by the Pittsburgh Ballet, among others. However, the HAMBURG BALLET is not limited to John Neumeier’s creations: apart from bal
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John Neumeier is holder of the German Federal Cross of Merit. In 2003 he was appointed to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honor by French President Jacques Chirac. In 2006 he received the Nijinsky Award for Lifetime Achievement, in 2007 the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize. He is an honorary citizen of Hamburg, the highest award the city may bestow.