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June 26th 1973: John Cranko’s Death

TODAY 47 YEARS AGO John Cranko died on a return flight from the United States. Two days earlier the company had given his version of Swan Lake in Philadelphia and went on board with the prospect of a summer vacation. John Cranko, to whom the Stuttgart Ballet owes everything, should not return to Stuttgart alive. The sudden death of the director and choreographer left a devastated company. But his legacy weighs more than tragic loss.

John Cranko’s spirit on stage: Anna Osadcenko and Jason Reilly in Onegin (Foto: Roman Novitzky)

When he became director in 1961, he built the foundation on which the Stuttgart Ballet still stands today. What he has achieved in just 12 years remains unbelievable even with today’s perspective: he created an ensemble that was worth his name, fought for better working conditions for his dancers, promoted young choreographers, built the ballet school, which bears his name today, and last but not least, created ballets that are danced not only in Stuttgart, but worldwide. Those who were lucky enough to meet this extraordinary person and artist still miss him. Anyone did not know him personally can feel him through his oeuvre – and in the hallways of the Stuttgart Ballet. His spirit is still there.

John Cranko is always in the background; Anna Osadcenko and Jason Reilly in rehearsals (Photo: Carlos Quezada)


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June 10th 1969: Opening Night in New York

ON THIS DAY … Today 51 years ago, the Stuttgart Ballet performed in New York City for the first time. On June 10th, 1969, John Crankos Onegin opened a series of performances running for a total of three weeks at the Metropolitan Opera House. At the invitation of impresario Sol Hurok, the company went to the States knowing that the first performance had to be a success – otherwise they would have to leave again immediately. After a shaky dress rehearsal, the ensemble won over the initially reserved New York audience at the opening night. Thanks to the coverage in the New York Times the “The Stuttgart Ballet Miracle” was proclaimed and the dancers became stars overnight. Marcia Haydée in particular was celebrated as Tatiana (Heinz Clauss as Onegin) and only days later proved her comic talent in The Taming of the Shrew. The total of 24 performances in New York – from Onegin, Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew to one-act ballets such as Jeu de Cartes or Presence – became a triumph and laid the foundation for the worldwide success of the Stuttgart Ballet.