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Stuttgart Ballet


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John Cranko (1927—1973) ballet dancer and choreographer

Jean-Georges Noverre (1727—1810) French choreographer and dance theorist

ballet

Nicholas Beriozoff (1906—1996)

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Germany's leading classical ballet company, based in Stuttgart. The city has a long history of ballet that dates back to court ballets performed there in 1609, and the flourishing period (1684–1709) when Jacques Courcelles was court ballet master. It came to international prominence when Noverre became ballet master of the Württemburg Court (1759–67). During his tenure he pioneered the ballet d'action and choreographed many works, including Rinaldo und Armida and Medea und Jason. He enlarged the company and attracted many guest artists, including G. Vestris, Dauberval, and Heinel. The Duke of Württemburg supported a school between 1771 and 1794. In 1824 F. Taglioni became ballet master (remaining until 1828) and his highly successful ballet Jocko, or the Brazilian Ape was premiered in 1826 with Marie Taglioni in the leading role. After this, ballet productions were largely subsumed into opera, though foreign companies continued to visit. In 1922 Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet had its first complete performance in the city's Landes Theater and between 1927 and 1939 Lina Gerza was an active choreographer and director of what was then known as the Ballet of the Württemberg State Theatre. She was succeeded there by six more ballet directors but in 1957 the company appointed Beriozoff who renewed public interest in classical ballet with his stagings of the 19th-century classics such as Sleeping Beauty (1957) and Swan Lake (1960) and the Fokine repertoire. He brought in international guest artists like Chauviré, Marjorie Tallchief, and his daughter Svetlana Beriosova, and in 1960 invited Cranko to come and create his Prince of the Pagodas. In 1961 Cranko took over direction of what had become known as the Stuttgart Ballet, turning it into one of the world's leading companies. Under his care Marcia Haydée developed into a great dramatic ballerina, in partnership with Richard Cragun, and Cranko's concern to raise technical standards produced many other fine principals, including Keil and Hanke. (Stuttgart Ballet School, founded in 1958, was made residential in 1971 under his direction and renamed the John Cranko School in 1974.) Cranko choreographed many works for the company including Romeo and Juliet (1962), Onegin (1965), and The Taming of the Shrew (1969), and he also brought in works by MacMillan, P. Wright, and others. The repertoire's strong dramatic bias developed dancers less famous for their uniformity of style than for their acting ability, personality, and adaptability to both classic and contemporary roles. As foreign tours became more extensive (New York, 1969, Russia, 1971), a second company, the Noverre Ballet, was formed to perform in opera productions and give its own chamber performances, but it was re-absorbed into the main company in 1973. The Noverre Society, formed in Stuttgart in 1958, developed into an important platform for new choreographers during this period with Kylián, Neumeier, and more latterly Forsythe showing their first works there. After Cranko's death in 1973, Tetley became director but though he created three works for the company, including Voluntaries, his style was not liked and Haydée took over in 1976. She continued there for nineteen years, maintaining the Cranko inheritance and acquiring a repertory of new work from Béjart, van Manen, and others. However, she came under increasing criticism for her frequent absences while running her other company in Santiago de Chile. With less new work coming into the repertory and the younger dancers receiving insufficient nurturing, the Stuttgart declined from its golden age of the 1960s and 1970s. In 1996 Reid Anderson was appointed director and made significant moves to re-vitalize the company. While maintaining the Cranko heritage, he also widened the repertory with work by Bigonzetti, Forsythe, McGregor, and others, and additionally encouraged new choreography from within the company, appointing two choreographers in residence, Christian Spuck and Marco Goeck. He also nurtured a new generation of dancers, including Alicia Amatriain, Sue Jin Kang, Katje Wünze, Filip Barankievicz, and Friedemann Vogel.

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Subjects: Dance.


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