Zurich Ballet

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Rudolf Laban (1879—1958) dancer and dance theoretician

Nicholas Beriozoff (1906—1996)

Rudolf Nureyev (1938—1993) dancer and choreographer

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The ballet company of the Zurich Opera House, like many similar institutions in Europe, has been historically constrained by the demands of opera productions. Comparatively few ballets were staged in Zurich during the 19th century and even after the new municipal theatre was opened in 1891 the repertory remained small, with just one ballet Die Josephslegende gaining significant success. In the 1930s Pino and Pia Mlakar, both former students of Rudolf Laban, worked as ballet directors and expanded the repertory, with new works including The Devil in the Village (1935) and The Ballad of Medieval Love (1937), both with music by the Yugoslav composer Fran Lhotka. During the Second World War ballet activity virtually ceased and it was only with the appointment of Nicholas Beriozoff as director in 1964 that the form was significantly re-invigorated. Beriozoff built up a repertory of 19th-century classics, with new works by himself and this momentum was sustained after his departure in 1971, by the management's invitation to Nureyev to stage a new production of Raymonda. A succession of short-lived directorships however stalled the company's revival, until Patricia Neary succeeded to the post in 1978. A former dancer with New York City Ballet, she added Balanchine works to the repertoire, along with Heinz Spoerli's celebrated production of Giselle (1980). She also oversaw a marked improvement in technical standards before leaving in 1985. Under the direction of Bernd Roger Bienert, the Zurich Ballet again came to prominence with the acquisition of Hodson and Archer's reconstructions of Nijinsky's Rite of Spring and Jean Börlin's Skating Rink. However the company's most sustained period of growth in recent years was under Heinz Spoerli. Appointed in 1996, Spoerli oversaw a major improvement in standards, in part through the restructuring of Zurich's associate ballet school and the formation of a junior ballet troupe to feed into the main company. He maintained the core classical repertory, with new productions including La Sylphide, and also acquired contemporary ballets from Kylián, van Manen, Forsythe, and others as well as choreographing many of his own including Goldberg Variations, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and In Den Winden Im Nichts (Winds in the Void, mus. Bach). In 2010 he was succeeded by Christian Spuck. The company tours internationally.

http://www.opernhaus.ch Website for Zurich Opera House with link to the ballet

Subjects: Dance.

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