Hans van Manen started his career in theatre as a make-up artist, aged 13, as the first step in his ambition to be a dancer. At 18 he joined Sonia Gaskell’s Ballet Recital in the Netherlands and later Amsterdam Opera Ballet, where he created his first ballet, Swing, in 1956. Three years later he became one of the founder choreographers of Netherlands Dance Theatre, becoming joint Director in 1961. After leaving NDT in 1970, he became one of the most sought-after choreographers in Europe. He created many more ballets, most for NDT and the Dutch National Ballet and worked closely with Stuttgart Ballet. Van Manen has staged his ballets for Houston Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Pennsylvania Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and Alvin Ailey among others.