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 now created more than 150 ballets, which all bear his distinct signature. The great clarity in structure and refined simplicity of his choreography have earned him the nickname the ‘Mondrian of dance’. Besides being in the repertoire of Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater (the two main performers of his works), his ballets are also danced by over ninety companies outside the Netherlands. The international stars with whom he has worked over the years include Anthony Dowell, Marcia Haydée, Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nureyev, Ulyana Lopatkina and Diana Vishneva. 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 books and shown at international exhibitions.
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, 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 held the post of resident choreographer with the Dutch National Ballet.
To celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday in 2007, the Dutch National Ballet organised the Hans van Manen Festival, a tribute in which twenty of his works were performed by leading ensembles and artists from the Netherlands and abroad. During the festival, Hans Van Manen was made a Commander in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. In 2000, Van Manen was awarded the Erasmus Prize, and in 2013 he received the Golden Age Award. Also in 2013, he was appointed patron of the Dutch National Ballet Academy (part of the Amsterdam University of the Arts). He became a member of the Society of Arts in 2015.
In Montpellier in 2017, in the presence of Jet Bussemaker, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Van Manen was made a Commander in the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. One year later, he was awarded 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’.
- 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)
- 2013: Golden Age Award
- 2013: Appointed patron of the Dutch National Ballet Academy
- 2013: Benois de la Danse for Variations for two couples
- 2007: VSCD Oeuvre Prize
- 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