John Neumeier was born in 1942 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, where he also received his first dance training. He went on to study ballet both in Copenhagen and at the Royal Ballet School in London. He acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Theater Studies from Marquette University, Wisconsin, where he created his first choreographic works. In 1963 John Cranko engaged him at the Stuttgart Ballet, where he progressed to solo dancer. In 1969 Ulrich Erfurth appointed Neumeier as Director of Ballet in Frankfurt. Since 1973 John Neumeier has been Artistic Director and Chief Choreographer of The Hamburg Ballet, since 1996 Ballettintendant (General Director). The Hamburg Ballet has become one of the leading ballet companies in the German dance scene and soon received international recognition.
As a choreographer, Neumeier has continually focused on the preservation of ballet tradition, while giving his works a modern dramatic framework. His commitment to this end has manifested itself particularly in his revised versions of the classical "story ballets". For his revolutionary choreographies on symphonies by Gustav Mahler he has received particular acclaim throughout the world. His latest creations for The Hamburg Ballet, "Le Pavillon d'Armide" and "Orpheus", premiered in 2009, and "Purgatorio", premiered in 2011.
In 1975, Neumeier created the Hamburger Ballett-Tage, the Hamburg Ballet Festival, a climax and end to each season. In 1978 he founded The School of The Hamburg Ballet. In 1989 the school, together with the company, moved into its own Ballettzentrum (ballet center) provided by the city of Hamburg. Its facilities include nine studios and a boarding school for over thirty students. Today more than 80% of the company's dancers are graduates from the school.
John Neumeier has worked as guest choreographer with many companies, including the Vienna, Munich and Dresden State Operas, The Royal Ballet in London, Stuttgart Ballet (for which he has created several works), The Royal Danish Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Tokyo Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre in New York, The National Ballet of Canada, the Bolshoi, Stanislavsky and Mariinsky companies and San Francisco Ballet.
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. In February 2006 Neumeier established the John Neumeier Foundation with the aim of bringing together his collection of dance- and ballet-related objects and material relating to his vast oeuvre. It will maintain and secure his life's work.
John Neumeier is the General Director and Artistic Supervisor of the National Youth Ballet.
Choreography for the National Youth Ballet
Excerpt from "Bernstein Dances"
Beethoven's String Quartet in B-flat op. 130 (work in progress)