Dear members of the audience,
When I was appointed Ballet Director and Principal Choreographer of the Ballett am Rhein in March last year I would never have thought it possible how much trust and artistic freedom I would be given in advance of my arrival. I regard it as a privilege to have been received so warmly by all departments of the theatre and to be able to work as part of such a prestigious institution. This special responsibility is one I take great pleasure in accepting.
In recent months I have not only got to know my new colleagues, I have also won over a team for my vision and formed an ensemble of dancers. We have examined choreographers and their works more thoroughly than ever and prepared a first programme only to rearrange this again completely under great pressure in the space of a few weeks due to COVID-19.
I have found it a highly enriching experience to put together an ensemble with such a wide range of personalities. A good third of the existing company will remain with us. They want to be part of a new era, to change and develop along with us. This group will now meet dancers from other major companies and graduates from leading dance schools. I am absolutely convinced that this is exactly the right blend to give us the opportunity to achieve the combination of continuity and renewal that we aspire to.
In assembling the Ballett am Rhein’s new artistic team, it was particularly important to me to have a number of different voices.
In Damiano Pettenella a principal ballet master will join the company who has worked alongside me with passion and precision as my choreographic assistant for seven years. I am sure that in future he will have a key influence on the technical and artistic development of the individual members of the company. Our dramaturgy is made up of Carmen Kovacs, who has a very special way of putting the inexplicable qualities of dance into words, and Maurice Lenhard, who is able to express his instinctive, X-ray like theatrical understanding with eloquence and clarity. These three very different perspectives will complement each other and present me with challenges every day – in developing programmes, in creating my own pieces as Principal Choreographer and in consistently clarifying and enhancing the profile of the Ballett am Rhein.
The diversity of this profile is something I could describe here – but I hope it will be evident simply from reading the programme. I am passionate to retain and build upon the neoclassical tradition that Martin Schläpfer established so brilliantly. Hans van Manen’s clear signature will also continue to leave a firm stamp on the company’s repertoire. At the same time I am committed to place a greater focus on new choreographic vocabularies and to promote young choreographers. Our co-operation with the Tonhalle Düsseldorf is intended to lay the foundations for further collaborations with a range of cultural institutions.
Stories fascinate me – they literally move me. This fascination will be visible both in my own work and that of our guest choreographers and various different artistic teams. With our new outreach programme B*alle*tt am Rhein, our repertoire will be expanded and enriched by the experienced dance educator Katharina Kluge for anyone who is interested, whatever their age.
It is also important to me that the richness of our repertoire is also reflected in the diversity of our ensemble. Our 45 dancers come from 20 different countries. For and with them, we want to establish an open working culture that promotes dialogue, one that will give us the most fertile soil for creative growth.
Lastly I would like to thank General Director Prof. Christoph Meyer, the board and especially the Head of the City of Düsseldorf’s Department of Culture, Hans-Georg Lohe, most sincerely for their trust and the Ballettfreunden der Deutschen Oper am Rhein e. V. for their active support from the very start.
I would like to wish us all, our dear and respected public, a fruitful time together in Düsseldorf and Duisburg, both on an artistic and a human level, lively discussions about what we have seen and experienced – and above all many sensual evenings of ballet.
Yours in eager anticipation
Ballet Director and Principal Choreographer
Ballett am Rhein