On August 1, 2024 Demis Volpi will succeed Professor John Neumeier as artistic director of the Hamburg Ballet and as head of the Hamburg Ballet Centre. The Board of Directors of the Hamburg State Opera today took this decision unanimously on the basis of the recommendations of an international search committee. Since August 2020 36-year-old German-Argentinian Demis Volpi has been artistic director and chief choreographer of the Ballett am Rhein Düsseldorf/Duisburg. He is a trained dancer, and has made a name for himself as a choreographer on an international level. And he has already worked as a choreographer for the National Youth Ballet. In order to facilitate a smooth transition, John Neumeier has agreed to prolong his contract for a year and to step down in the summer of 2024. John Neumeier has been artistic director of the Hamburg Ballet since 1973. Hamburg's honorary citizen has made history and led the company to world-wide renown.
Dr. Carsten Brosda, Minister of Culture and Media:
"Demis Volpi will continue to add to the remarkable story of the Hamburg Ballet, and, with the help of new ideas and insights, lead it into the future. He has worked with the National Youth Ballet and the Ballet School, and intends to keep alive the repertory created by John Neumeier. At the same time I look forward to new kinds of choreography in general and to his own work as a choreographer in particular, for as an artist he mingles and combines tradition and innovation. And as a trained dancer Demis Volpi understands the company and what it can do, and the needs of the dancers. I am also extremely grateful to John Neumeier for agreeing to be artistic director of the Hamburg Ballet for another year, which will ensure a smooth transition. Hamburg owes a great deal to its honorary citizen. He has made history in our city with a series of outstanding choreographies. They have made the Hamburg Ballet what it is. So as we place the legacy of John Neumeier in the able hands of Demis Volpi, we hope and believe that ballet in Hamburg can look forward to a brilliant future."
Demis Volpi, forthcoming artistic director of the Hamburg Ballet:
"I am delighted that I have been appointed artistic director of the Hamburg Ballet as the successor to John Neumeier and grateful to the members of the search committee for the trust that they have placed in me. I am well aware of the fact that this is a very special challenge. The opportunity to follow in the footsteps of an artist who shaped and inspired the company, the city and audiences from around the world for half a century is simply unique. I look forward to keeping alive the rich repertory created by John Neumeier, to searching for and presenting new ways of looking at the world trough dance, and to continue developing my own choreographic language. Working towards the future of the Hamburg Ballet together with the company and the Hamburg audiences will be an exciting and inspiring experience for all of us.
Despite all of the difficulties occasioned by the pandemic, in the summer of 2020 I began leading the Ballett am Rhein. We have had wonderful and exhilarating seasons, and two exciting ones are still to come. That I am able to do this work, which has been crowned with the Hamburg appointment, is thanks to the highly motivated dancers of the Ballett am Rhein, to my team and all of my colleagues at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf/Duisburg.
I would like to thank John Neumeier for his openness and his positive reaction to my appointment. Without his support this step would have been unthinkable."
John Neumeier, Artistic Director and Chief Choreographer of the Hamburg Ballett:
"At the beginning of this season, our revival of Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler was a significant achievement. In a time in which filling theatres has become a major challenge, a 48-year-old work inspired four sold-out performances. The company – the Hamburg Ballet – is a truly unique ensemble.
Again, when I recently watched the rough cut of the Anna Karenina film which we had recorded in May, I spontaneously said: This is what I've worked for the past 50 years! I will now pass on something that is infinitely valuable for me: this group of extraordinary artists.
In my opinion, each company should have its distinct character. In this moment, I trust that Demis Volpi will keep the Hamburg Ballet alive – leading this ensemble into the future with a different, a new but also distinct character. At the same time, I am happy that Lloyd Riggins will stay on as his Deputy Director and also assume a new position as curator and expert for my works. I can only wish Demis Volpi, Lloyd Riggins and the entire Hamburg Ballet the very best for the future."
Demis Volpi has been artistic director and chief choreographer of Ballett am Rhein Düsseldorf/Duisburg since 2020. Prior to this he was a successful free-lance choreographer and producer, and created works for the American Ballet Theatre, the Ballet de Santiago de Chile, the Ballet Nacional del Sodre in Uruguay, the Latvian National Ballet, the Ballett Dortmund, the Compañia Nacional de Danza de México, and the Ballet Vlaanderen, to name but some. He has also worked with the National Youth Ballet. From 2013 until 2017 he was in-house choreographer of the Stuttgart Ballet, for which he also developed the ballet "Krabat".
Demis Volpi, who was born in Buenos Aires, initially attended the Instituto Superior de Arte Teatro Colón. His subsequent training was at Canada's National Ballet School in Toronto and at the John Cranko School in Stuttgart. He then joined the Stuttgart corps de ballet. Volpi has received numerous international awards, including the Konex Award of the Konex Foundation in Buenos Aires, the "Young Artist of the Year" award from the magazine Opernwelt, and the German Dance Future Award of the Aalto Theatre in Essen. On top of this he was nominated for the Prix Benois de la Danse and the International Opera Awards.
The Board of Directors of the Hamburg State Opera based its decision to appoint Demis Volpi on the recommendations of the distinguished and international appointments committee. It was chaired by Minister of Culture Dr. Brosda and included several external experts — Ted Brandsen, artistic director and choreographer of the Dutch National Ballet, Tamas Detrich, the artistic director of the Stuttgart Ballet, Brigitte Lefèvre, former dancer, choreographer and ballet director of the Paris Opera, Dorion Weickmann, dance critic, author and editor of the periodical "tanz", Ashley Wheater, artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, Gigi Hyatt, deputy director and educational supervisor at the School of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier, Michael Behrendt, Monika Hess and Elke Weber-Braun, members of the Board of Directors of the Hamburg State Opera, and Hans Heinrich Bethge, head of the cultural affairs section of the Ministry of Culture and Media Hamburg.