From early educational outreach to the world’s first international platform for young choreographers – over the course of sixty years the project Noverre: Young Choreographers has majorly influenced the European dance scene and become a popular annual event in the cultural life of the city of Stuttgart.
Stuttgart 1958: Just a few years before John Cranko became director of the Stuttgart Ballet, balletomane Fritz Höver founded the Noverre Society in Stuttgart to promote an art form which until then was eking out an existence as the small and unloved “step-sister” of the all-powerful opera. Höver initiated lectures about dance and gave short introductions to pieces – hoping to awaken the audience’s interest in ballet. When John Cranko arrived in Stuttgart in 1961, he found in Höver a kindred spirit: together they initiated the precursor of today’s Young Choreographer evenings, first in the form of a matinee consisting of four world premieres created by company members in between which Cranko himself shared his vast knowledge of ballet with the Stuttgart audience. “Cranko, the young choreographers, especially the ballet, the poor sister of the arts, often declared dead, is far from dying”, summarised the town’s newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung after the first joint event.
During the subsequent decades interest in the Young Choreographers matinees continued to grow as the platform developed into a veritable talent factory. Hitherto unknown choreographers - including John Neumeier, Jiří Kylián and William Forsythe as well as Uwe Scholz, Christian Spuck, Marco Goecke and Demis Volpi - created their very first works here and subsequently became resident choreographers of the Stuttgart Ballet before moving on to pursue international careers. In addition, many former and present ballet directors can look back at their beginnings at Noverre, among others Bridget Breiner, Ivan Cavallari and Eric Gauthier. Based in Stuttgart, the hard work of the Noverre Society (all done on a volunteer basis) not only influenced companies worldwide but also the international dance scene as a whole.
In May 2018, sixty years after its foundation, the Noverre Society’s members decided to close the association as they could not find a successor for the society’s honorary boards which had been working on a voluntary basis for years. It is all the more gratifying that this step did not mean the end of the Young Choreographers! As of the 2018-19 season, the project was saved by Artistic Director Tamas Detrich and found a new home under the roof of the Stuttgart Ballet. Here it will continue to thrive under the title Noverre: Young Choreographers under the management of Sonia Santiago.