The University of San Diego will host the Kyoto Prize Symposium featuring the 2015 Arts and Philosophy Kyoto Prize Laureate
Mr. John Neumeier
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Shiley Theatre, Camino Hall, 10:30 a.m. - noon (PDT)
Master Choreographer in today's dance scene
Mr. Neumeier, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A., has directed the Hamburg Ballet for more than four decades. He enjoys a strong following in Europe, where ballet audiences look forward to his works with great enthusiasm. His masterpieces are performed not only in Germany but also around the globe by other first-class ballet companies, exerting significant influence on the entire ballet community. With a deep interest in Japanese culture, Mr. Neumeier has created several pieces that beautifully evoke Japanese sensitivity, lyricism, and connection to the changing seasons. The most famous of these is his Seven Haiku of the Moon.
The culmination of 20th century ballet
Ballets choreographed by Mr. Neumeier depict complex human psychology in the most sophisticated manner. He has never been content to merely absorb the classical traditions, but draws from traditional ballet techniques to establish his own unique art. In works such as Illusions—like “Swan Lake” and Lady of the Camellias, he surprises audiences with a fresh experience by incorporating new interpretations and perspectives into classical repertoires and literary works. When choreographing musical masterpieces, such as Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler, he interprets the compositions by immersing himself in them deeply to produce emotional expressions through the dancers’ movements—despite the fact that no distinct stories are recounted in such works. Individual scenes are elaborately structured through choreographic design that corresponds to the fine nuances of the compositions, thus ensuring that the ambience of each composition is exquisitely expressed. In both dramatic and abstract works, Mr. Neumeier’s rich musicality serves as the essential power underpinning the persuasive, inspirational quality of his creations.
Mr. Neumeier started his career in the classics; while continuing this tradition, he has added new dimensions to the expression of dance by integrating the essence of the two major trends in 20th century ballet—namely, dramatic ballet, with its emphasis on psychological portrayals, and abstract ballet, in which conventional storytelling is absent.
Contributions to ballet culture
Today, his activities extend beyond ballet production to the promotion of ballet culture in general. Since 1975, he has organized the Hamburg Ballet Days, attracting ballet companies and dancers from around the world, who draw inspiration from each other through their unique performances. Since founding the Hamburg Ballet School in 1978, he has continued to devote considerable time and energy to ballet education. In 2006, he established the Foundation John Neumeier to preserve his historic ballet collections for the benefit of future generations. And, in 2011, he founded Germany's National Youth Ballet for the purpose of developing the talents and skills of young dancers.
Ballet photo from Neumeier's Tatjana (C) Holger Badekow