Although the ballets by Hans van Manen (Amsterdam, 1932) seem simple by their abstraction, they are certainly not. The award winning choreographer requires risk, vitality and swing. He owes his nickname Mondriaan of Dance to the optimal use of space and a clear introduction of the dancers on stage. His humour lifts the tone of his work and appeals to a large audience. Although Van Manen cannot read scores, he reads compositions and listens to dance like no other. In 2015 NDT1 resumed performing his moving and comforting Kleines Requiem (1996) and in the 2015/16 season NDT2 is performing his two master pieces Two (1990) and Solo (1997) in the programme Straight Around which premiered in February.
In 1951 Van Manen started his career with Sonia Gaskell’s Ballet Recital. The year after he joined the Nederlandse Opera Ballet where he choreographed his first work Feestgericht (1957). Van Manen then joined Roland Petit’s company in Paris. From 1960 to 1971 he was associated with NDT as a dancer (until 1963), choreographer and (from 1961) as artistic leader. In this period Van Manen blossomed as a choreographer. In 1973 he joined Het Nationale Ballet as a choreographer and producer, after freelancing for two years.
From 1988 to 2003 Hans van Manen returned to NDT as a resident choreographer. He remains available to NDT for rehearsing and updating existing repertoire. His oeuvre now comprises more than 120 ballets (62 of which have been for NDT), each bearing his unmistakable signature. His most recent creations for NDT are Short Cut (NDT1, 1999), Two Gold Variations (NDT1, 1999), Trilogie (NDT1, 2000), Two Faces (NDT3, 2000), Simple Things (NDT2, 2001) and Monologue, Dialogue (NDT1, 2003).
Abroad, he has staged his ballets for the Stuttgart Ballett, Bayerisches Staatsballett München, Berliner Staatsoper, National Ballet of Canada, England’s Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Zürich Ballett, San Francisco Ballet, Compañia Naçional de Danza, Paris Opéra Ballet, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Staatsoper Wien and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Hans van Manen has been awarded many prizes throughout his long career. These include the Edinburgh Festival Critics Award in 1998, in 2000 the Erasmus Prize for outstanding achievements in Dutch dance and in May 2005 he was awarded the Benois de la Danse for Lifetime Achievement and also received the Grand Pas Award. For the occasion of his 75th birthday in 2007 Hans van Manen was promoted to Commander in the Order ofthe Dutch Lion.
Hans van Manen is not only a choreographer, but also a photographer and his work can be seen internationally in book form and in exhibitions. In 2003 the Stichting Hans van Manen was founded. The aim of this foundation is to make an inventory of Hans van Manen’s cultural heritage and categorise it in a production archive.