Manuel Legris ends his period as Director of Wiener Staatsballett in 2020


Manuel Legris advised the Company today, this the 12th December 2017, that he has informed the designated Director of Vienna State Opera, Bogdan Roščić of his intention to not extend his current contract which runs until 31st August 2020 as Director of the Vienna State Ballet beyond this point.

© Michael Poehn

“Over the past weeks and months, I have often thought about the future of my relationship with the Company. In any case, it was clear to me that I needed to reach a decision very soon in order to leave sufficient time to make the necessary arrangements for all those involved. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion not to extend my contract beyond 2020. Ten years working at the top of this ballet company is just right - it feels apt to be beginning a new chapter of my life in 2020, and I believe that it is also a good time for a fresh start for the Company which mirrors the change in leadership at the State Opera”, Manuel Legris states, who, two years ago (October 2015), extended his contract to 2020. “I am very thankful that immediately after my active dance career at the Paris Opera, I was entrusted with the leadership of the Vienna State Ballet in 2010. From the very first day, I have taken this role – which was something completely new and came with so much responsibility – very seriously, and I have put every ounce of energy and concentration into ‘my Company’. Thus, as I look back on seven eventful, fruitful years, during which we have gone from strength to strength, I am filled with a sense of joy and fortune. We have achieved so much up until this point and I believe we can say: Today, the Vienna State Ballet has a wonderful reputation, not only in Vienna, in Austria, but also on the international stage. And my journey with the Vienna State Ballet is far from over: we still have three whole seasons ahead of us, filled with many wonderful and challenging projects, and I will give them my all”.

And finally, Manuel Legris stresses: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the current Director of the Vienna State Opera, Dominique Meyer. He appointed me as Ballet Director; without him, my splendid adventure with the Vienna State Ballet simply wouldn’t have been possible. And: I could always be sure of his continual support – he has actively contributed to the standing of the Company both in and out of House. I thank the incoming Director of the Vienna State Opera, Bogdan Roščić for his vote of confidence – I have stressed to him how much the Company means to me and he has my full support, both in the process of finding a successor and, of course, in the handover of management”.

Manuel Legris
was born in Paris and trained at the ballet school of the Paris Opéra. He joined the Paris Opéra Ballet in 1980. In 1986 he was appointed Danseur Étoile by then ballet director of the Paris Opéra, Rudolf Nureyev. He performed the great roles of the classic and modern repertoire and appeared in numerous world premières. He was a guest performer with renowned ballet companies around the world and also appeared with his own ensemble, “Manuel Legris et ses Étoiles”. In May 2009, he gave his farewell performance as Danseur Étoile of the Paris Opéra; since then he has given guest performances both at the Paris Opéra and at other theatres in Europe, Asia and America.
Since September 2010 Manuel Legris is Director of the Wiener Staatsballett and Artistic Director of the Ballet Academy of the Vienna State Opera.
Manuel Legris’ repertoire at the Paris Opéra Ballet included the lead roles in works by Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Patrice Bart, Maurice Béjart, Trisha Brown, August Bournonville, Vladimir Burmeister, John Cranko, Nacho Duato, Mats Ek, Mikhail Fokin, William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián, Pierre Lacotte, Harald Lander, Serge Lifar, Kenneth MacMillan, John Neumeier, Rudolf Nureyev, Roland Petit, Angelin Preljocaj, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, Antony Tudor, and Rudi van Dantzig. In the course of his career as a dancer, Manuel Legris often appeared in Vienna. He made his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper on 27 January 1985 as Béranger in Rudolf Nureyev’s Raymonda; in 1989 he was seen as Jean de Brienne in Raymonda and as Prince Florimund in Nureyev’s Sleeping Beauty. In 1999 he returned to the Wiener Staatsoper to dance in the Saisonschluss-Gala. Other appearances at Wiener Staatsoper include Des Grieux in Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon in 1999, the Saisonschluss-Gala in 2001, and the Nureyev Gala in 2003. The solo Angel created for Manuel Legris by Renato Zanella was premiered at the Wiener Staatsoper in 1999. He also performed in Manon with the Wiener Staatsopernballett during a guest appearance in Madrid in 2000. Manuel Legris has also made guest appearances with foreign ballet companies at the Wiener Staatsoper: in 1989 with the Tokyo Ballet, in 2000 with the Paris Opéra Ballet during “ImPulsTanz”. During guest appearances by the Paris Opéra Ballet at other Viennese theatres, he danced in TANZ ’86 at the Theater an der Wien in 1986 and at the Burgtheater as part of “ImPulsTanz” in 2005.
In 2008 he performed in the “ImPulsTanz” ballet gala at the Burgtheater. In 2012 at the Burgtheater he presented the gala Manuel Legris & Guests for this festival in which he also performed. In the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation broadcast of the Vienna Philharmonic’s 2001 New Year’s Concert, he danced a solo choreographed by Zanella. Recent performances include The Bat in Peking (National Ballet of China), Pas de deux from Onegin (Gala Tokyo Ballet, 50 years jubilee) and appearances at the Shanghai Grand Theatre, in Beijing and Tokyo.
In his first season as Director of the Wiener Staatsballett, Manuel Legris presented altogether eight premieres, five at the Wiener Staatsoper, and three at the Volksoper Wien. For the enormous successful premiere of Rudolf Nureyev’s version of Don Quixote Manuel Legris himself was responsible for the staging. In his second season together with Elisabeth Plated he staged Pierre Lacotte’s La Sylphide, in the season 2012/2013 he produced Rudolf Nureyev’s The Nutcracker and in the 2013/2014 season Swan Lake. At the multi-part evening Junge Talente des Wiener Staatsballetts at the Volksoper Wien his choreography Donizetti Pas de deux was presented. In March 2016 he presented his very first full-lenght story ballet: his version of Le Corsaire at Wiener Staatsoper.
As dancer he appeared at the Wiener Staatsoper at the opening ceremony of the Vienna Opera Ball 2011. During a tour of the Wiener Staatsballett to Japan in 2012 he created the title-role in Patrick de Bana’s Ludwig II – The Swan King and danced as well as in Roland Petit’s The Bat and in the annual Nureyev Gala 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Prizes and Honours: 1st prize in the ballet competition in Osaka (1984), Prix Nijinsky (1988), Prix Benois de la Danse (1998) Nijinski Award (“Best Dancer in the World, 2000”), Prix Positano (2001); Chevalier des Arts et Lettres (1993), Officier des Arts et Lettres (1998), Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite (2002), Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur (2006), Commandeur des Arts et Lettres (2009). 2016 he won the People’s Choice Award for his gala performance as Ulrich in Roland Petits Die Fledermaus at the XV. DANCE OPEN International Ballet Festival at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.



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