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Hans van Manen

Born in Amstelveen, Holland, by the age of 13, Hans van Manen was already working in the theatre as a make-up man. Despite winning a prize for his make-up, he gave up his job at 18 to become a dancer. He began training with Sonia Gaskell, and even though he was a late starter, a shortage of male dancers at the time lead to his successful stage debut only three months later.

He left Sonia Gaskell's Ballet Recital in 1952 to join Nederlandse Opera Ballet, directed by Françoise Adret. He created his first choreography, Swing, in 1956, for the Scapino Ballet and created three ballets for Nederlandse Opera Ballet over the next two years, before joining Roland Petit's company in Paris. In 1959, he became one of the founder choreographers of Nederlands Dans Theater. Despite having to complete his contact as a dancer with Petit, he also danced with NDT until 1963, and from 1961 to 1971 was the company's joint Artistic Director, first with Benjamin Harkarvy and later with Glen Teltley. During his decade with NDT, van Manen created at least one new ballet for the company each year, but sometimes as many as four. Works from this period include Symphony in Three Movements (1963), Essay in Silence (1965) and Grosse Fuge (1971).

After leaving NDT, van Manen spent two years as a prolific free-lance choreographer, before his appointment, in 1973, as choreographer / régisseur to Het Nationale Ballet in Amsterdam. The many ballets he created during his time there include Septet Extra (1973), Sacre du Printemps (1974), Four Schumann Pieces (1975), Five Tangos (1977), Sarsasms (1981) and Trois Gnossienes (1982). In 1988 van Manen rejoined Nederlands Dans Theater as resident choreographer. Since then, he has created over forty works for the company.

Van Manen has won many awards for his ballets, including, the Sonia Gaskell prize for his repertoire and in particular for the three duets he created during the season 1990/91: Two, Theme and Andante; for his ballet Two, he received the choreography prize from the VSCD, the united Dutch theatre directors in 1991; in 1992 the year of his 35th anniversary as a choreographer, he was given a Knighthood in the Order of Orange Nassau by the Queen of The Netherlands; in 1993, he received the German Dance Prize for his influence on German Dance over the last 20 years; the Bob Angelo Medallion from the Dutch COC in 1996; the Gino Tani International Prize in the category of Dance in 1997; an Archangel, the Critics' Award for Dance at the Edinburgh Festival in 1998 and most recently, the prestigious Dutch Erasmus Prize in November 2000.

Van Manen has now created well over one hundred works, more than half for NDT, and is one of Europe's most sought-after choreographers. His works are staged all over the world including for Stuttgart Ballet, Bayerisches Staatsballett Munchen, Berlin Opera, Houston Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, Pennsylvania Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the State Opera in Vienna, Alvin Ailey and of course for Birmingham Royal Ballet.

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