Basel Ballet

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Heinz Spoerli (b. 1941)


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Swiss municipal ballet company, based in Basel. The company was formed in 1955 when the Russian dancer and choreographer Vaslav Orlikovsky assumed the post of ballet master in Basel. He imported foreign dancers, built up the repertoire, and brought the company to international attention, using the classics as well as popular Soviet works to draw audiences. Orlikovsky also created two important ballets of his own: Peer Gynt (1956) and The Prince of the Pagodas (1961). The company fell into decline following his departure in 1967, but it was revitalized by Heinz Spoerli, who became resident choreographer (later company director) in 1973. He contributed many works to the repertoire, including a popular restaging of Giselle, and also invited outside choreographers such as Christopher Bruce, Forsythe, van Manen, and Cranko to create work. The company made its New York debut in 1983. Spoerli left the company in 1991. In 1996, following a decision by the theatre's management, the company was disbanded but it was subsequently revived and under the direction of Richard Wherlock (appointed 2001) operating as a mid-scale company and focusing on new works including Orpheus and Persephone (Cathy Marston, mus. Vasks, 2005).

Subjects: Dance.

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