Hans van Manen (Nieuwer-Amstel, the Netherlands, 1932) is internationally recognised as one of the grand masters of contemporary ballet. Including his works for television, he has created more than 150 ballets, which all bear his distinct signature. Clarity in structure, refined simplicity and an aversion to decorative frills form the key elements in his extremely musical ballets, which always concern human relationships, without becoming anecdotal.
Van Manen had his first ballet lessons in the late forties from Sonia Gaskell, who engaged him in her group Ballet Recital in 1951. Van Manen went on to dance with the Netherlands Opera Ballet and Roland Petit's Ballets de Paris. In 1955, he made his debut as a choreographer with Olé, Olé, la Margarita. His third creation, Feestgericht, received the State Award for Choreography. From 1960 onwards, Van Manen has worked alternately with the two main dance companies of the Netherlands. After co-directing Nederlands Dans Theater for ten years, he became a resident choreographer – first with the Dutch National Ballet (1973-1987), and then with Nederlands Dans Theater (1988-2003). Since 2005, he has once again held the post of resident choreographer with the Dutch National Ballet.
Besides being in the repertoire of Dutch National Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater and Introdans – the three Dutch ‘custodians’ of his works – his ballets are also danced by over ninety companies outside the Netherlands. Whenever one of his ballets is staged, he is still intensively involved in the process. In the rehearsal studio, he has the last word in the interpretation of his work, and he adds the final touches in his own inimitable way.
Van Manen’s most important ‘dance muses’ with Nederlands Dans Theater and Dutch National Ballet include (in chronological order) Gérard Lemaître, Marianne Sarstädt, Alexandra Radius and Han Ebbelaar, Coleen Davis, Rachel Beaujean, Fiona Lummis, Sol Léon, Sabine Kupferberg and Igone de Jongh. The many international stars with whom he has worked include Anthony Dowell, Marcia Haydée, Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nureyev, Ulyana Lopatkina and Diana Vishneva.
For his individual ballets and for his great contribution to the arts in general, Van Manen has received numerous awards, including the Erasmus Prize, the Prix Benois de la Danse Life Achievement Award, the Grand Prix à la Carrière, the VSCD Oeuvre Prize and the German Musikpreis for his brilliant musicality. At the Hans van Manen Festival organised by Dutch National Ballet in celebration of his seventy-fifth birthday in 2007, the master choreographer was appointed a Commander in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. This was followed in 2017 by his appointment as a Commander in the French Ordre des Lettres et des Arts, and in 2018 King Willem-Alexander presented him with the Honorary Medal for Arts and Science of the Order of the House of Orange for his ‘enormous contribution to the arts in the Netherlands and to ballet in particular’.
Since 2013, Van Manen has been the patron of the Dutch National Ballet Academy and he became a member of the Society of Arts in 2015. Besides being a choreographer, Hans van Manen has also been active as an extremely successful photographer for ten years. His work has been published in book form and shown at international exhibitions.
- 2018: Honorary Medal for Arts and Science of the Order of the House of Orange
- 2017: Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (French Ministry of Culture)
- 2017: Oeuvre Prize from the VSCD (Dutch Association of Theatre and Concert Hall Directors)
- 2016: Grand Prix à la Carrière
- 2013: Golden Age Award
- 2013: Appointed patron of the Dutch National Ballet Academy
- 2013: Prix Benois de la Danse for Variations for two couples
- 2007: Commander in the Order of the Netherlands Lion
- 2005: Benois de la Danse Life Time Achievement Award
- 2005: Grand Pas Award
- 2004: Musikpreis der Stadt Duisburg
- 2004: Deutsche Tanzpreis
- 2000: Erasmus Prize
- 1998: Archangel, Edinburgh Festival Critics Award
- 1997: Gino Tani International Prize
- 1996: Bob Angelo Medal from the COC
- 1993: Deutsche Tanzpreis
- 1992: Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau
- 1991: Sonia Gaskell Prize
- 1991: Choreography Award from the VSCD (Dutch Association of Theatre and Concert Hall Directors) for Two
- 1957: State Award for Choreography for his ballet Feestgericht