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John Neumeier expresses his admiration
for Leonard Bernstein with 'Bernstein Dances',
reported by TESS CREBBIN


American Choreographer John Neumeier, based in Hamburg, is a lucky man because everyone wants him. A recent article in a large German newspaper said: 'The public wants Neumeier, no matter what.' And now the world is coming to Hamburg! For the anniversary celebrations of the Hamburg Ballet-John Neumeier, 6-27 June 2004, a great many people are travelling to there from all over the globe because it is a rare occasion to see Neumeier's finest pieces in the space of only a few weeks. A definite highlight will be Neumeier's Bernstein Dances -- based on the music and spirit of Leonard Bernstein and also dedicated to Bernstein, with whom Neumeier was friends.

'Our friendship began because of dance and Bernstein still dances for me -- the man and the music,' Neumeier said. 'Anyone who has ever seen him conduct can understand what I mean. In 1974, when I was preparing to choreograph Mahler's Third Symphony, I had the rather ambitious idea that Bernstein should conduct. Of course it wasn't possible for Bernstein, whose schedule was obviously full for years in advance, to work on this project. But he took time to speak to me about the Mahler Third, and discussed my work. Later, when I staged West Side Story he came to Hamburg and we met again. Immediately, a friendship developed.'

This friendship later led to Neumeier choreographing other Bernstein works, such as Songfest and The Age of Anxiety, and also the entire musical Out of Town. The Bernstein Dances choreography is the homage of one great man of arts to another great man of arts, and the former will never forget the latter.

'It is a title with two meanings,' says Neumeier, 'a suite of dances to Bernstein's music and Bernstein -- himself -- dances. Perhaps the title should also be understood in a third sense: 'dances' emphasises the present tense -- his music dances -- will always dance -- timeless and eternal.'

Copyright © 5 June 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


Programme, Bernstein Dances, Hamburg Ballet, 8 June 2004:

Part 1

Overture from Candide

Who am I? Prologue

Anniversary for Susanna Kyle
'Who am I?' Song from Peter Pan

The Beginning

Choreographic Essay for Orchestra

The City

'What a Waste'
'Little Bit of Love'
'Wrong Note Rag'
Songs from Wonderful Town

'Lonely Town' - song and dance episode from On the Town

The Spirit

'A simple Song'
'So Pretty'
from Broadway for Peace, 1968

Meditation No 2 from Mass

The Success

'Something's Coming' - song from West Side Story
Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

Part II

Fast Forward

Overture from Candide

'The Story of My Life'
Song from Wonderful Town

In the evening and through the night

Serenade (based on Plato's Symposium)
for solo violin, string orchestra, harp and percussion

Five Anniversaries for piano

Sissy von Kotzebue and Tess Crebbin will review three of Neumeier's Choreographies for Music & Vision: Bernstein Dances, Schubert's Winterreise, and Mahler's Third Symphony. The reviews will all feature quotes from Neumeier as he talks about his choreography and what each composer means to him.





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