For the past 45 years, I have moved dancers to move people in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg – the centre of my artistic life –, always believing that ballet is an art form of the present tense. During the forthcoming season, I will celebrate my 80th birthday. This occasion offers an opportunity to weave some threads of my life into the program of the Hamburg Ballet.
The first premiere "Brahms/Balanchine" is dedicated to the legendary choreographer George Balanchine. He has been, in a sense, a role model for me – not only, because his many years of loyalty to the New York City Ballet are similar to my dedication to Hamburg – but because of his constant ability to renew dance. Firmly rooted in tradition, Balanchine's creativity gave classical ballet contemporary form. For the second premiere, "The Glass Menagerie", I return to the roots of my literary education to give choreographic life to Tennessee Williams' deeply moving drama.
In the repertoire, I continue with last season's focus on Marius Petipa, celebrating his 200th anniversary, with ballets that are inspired by his creations: "The Nutcracker", "Illusions – like Swan Lake" and "Don Quixote". Interestingly enough, there are two centenaries which we will celebrate at the beginning of our season: the birth of Leonard Bernstein ("Bernstein Dances") and of Jerome Robbins ("Chopin Dances"). Both knew each other as young men and created together the ballet "Fancy Free" which became the splendid musical "On the Town". Later, their work resulted in the great American musical "West Side Story".
The season's remaining program may be seen as a weaving together of the various genres that have, throughout the years, inspired me as an artist: concert music ("Beethoven Project", "All Our Yesterdays": "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" and "Fifth Symphony of Gustav Mahler"), literature ("Anna Karenina", "Lady of the Camellias"), oratorio ("Christmas Oratorio I-VI") and also an opera ("Orphée et Eurydice"). This season, a great many performances combine song and dance – in performances such as Brahms' "Liebeslieder Walzer", Mahler's "Wunderhorn" song cycle, Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" and the moving songs of "Bernstein Dances".
As a "biography of the soul", my ballet "Nijinsky" seems beyond conventional classification. Vaslav Nijinsky has always inspired an essential part of my work as a choreographer and collector. For the future, I would like to establish his memory at the core of a new ballet institute in Hamburg. In the process of making this vision a reality, I will present a fundraising gala for the proposed Ballet Institute on the occasion of my 80th birthday. I would be delighted to greet all of you on this truly special evening!