Hamburg Ballet Premieres: Liliom and Renku

Via Press Release:

Choreographic creativity is the recurring theme of The Hamburg Ballet’s season 2011/2012. Liliom, a world premiere both in choreography and music, is John Neumeier’s new ballet based on Ferenc Molnár’s play of the same name. Molnár’s play, first performed in 1909, was in turn the basis for the musical Carousel.

Liliom has a specially commissioned score (the company’s first new commission since Lera Auerbach’s score for The Little Mermaid, 2005/2007). French composer Michel Legrand, known for his award-winning scores for films like Yentl, Peau d’Âne and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, is currently working on the music, which combines elements of classical and jazz. John Neumeier is creating the leading female role, Julie, for Royal Ballet Principal Alina Cojocaru. She will be dancing on December 4, 6, 20, 2011 as well as on January 5, 2012.

Choreographer John Neumeier says:

In 1909, when the “Ballets Russes” performed in Paris for the first time, Ferenc Molnár’s play Liliom premiered in Budapest. In his ‘suburban legend’, the Hungarian writer tells the story of a petty criminal, who, overburdened by life and its ways, turns to more serious crimes. Feeling ashamed towards his mistress and their unborn child, he commits suicide. But even in the after world he cannot escape his destiny.

Using a commissioned score by the celebrated, Oscar-winning film composer Michel Legrand I am trying to bring this moving tragicomedy to the stage with the means of ballet. The world premiere of Liliom promises to be an exciting cooperation between the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra and the NDR Bigband.

For the company’s second premiere, Renku, John Neumeier re-conceptualises Japanese poetry for dance: a “renku” is a Japanese form of poetry, comprised of linked verses by several authors. The writing of a renku is comparable to that of a group game (or a meme), where an existing work is continued by someone else. Thus, a poet writes down a verse, finding out later that a teammate has continued the verse in a way that the first author did not expect. According to Neumeier:

The resulting ballet, although inspired by the renku form, will not necessarily be Japanese in aesthetics and expression. Even though the result is a chain of multiple styles, the renku must become coherent, an artistic entity in the end.

Yuka Oishi, Soloist, and Orkan Dann, member of the corps de ballet of The Hamburg Ballet, have been commissioned as the choreographers for Renku. They recently presented some of their works as part of the “Junge Choreografen” (Young Choreographers) at Deutsches Schauspielhaus (April 2011).


  • Premieres: December 4, 2011 & December 6, 2011
  • Performances: December 10, 19, 20, 2011 January 5, 6, 2012 June 28, 2012


  • Premieres: June 17, 2012 & June 19, 2012
  • Performance: June 29, 2012

For tickets and information visit For details on ballets, casts and dates visit

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