Although the ballets by Hans van Manen (Amsterdam, 1932) seem simple by their abstraction, they are certainly not. The award-winning choreographer requires risk, vitality and swing. He owes his nickname Mondriaan of Dance to the optimal use of space and a clear introduction of the dancers on stage. His humor lifts the tone of his work and appeals to a large audience. Although Van Manen cannot read scores, he ‘reads’ compositions and ‘listens’ to dance like no other.
In 1951 Van Manen started his career with Sonia Gaskell’s Ballet Recital. The year after, he joined the Nederlandse Opera Ballet, where he choreographed his first work Feestgericht (1957). Then he joined Roland Petit’s company in Paris. From 1960 to 1971 Van Manen was associated with NDT as a dancer (until 1963), choreographer and (from 1961) as artistic leader. In this period Van Manen blossomed as a choreographer. In 1973 he joined Het Nationale Ballet as a choreographer and producer, after two years of freelancing.