5 Ballets Choreographed by Christian Spuck: A Journey into Dance Artistry

Discover 5 ballets choreographed by Christian Spuck.

Who is Christian Spuck?

Christian Spuck is a talented choreographer, originally hailing from Marburg, Germany. He is celebrated for his remarkable ability to distill complex stories from famous literary works such as Romeo and Juliet and Anna Karenina, crafting innovative new ballet productions. His work is instantly recognizable, featuring dark costumes designed by Buki Shiff or Emma Ryott, a unique flex-footed choreographic style, an unmistakable sense of whimsy, and a trademark sense of humor. Having served as the artistic director of Ballett Zürich since 2012, Spuck has premiered numerous original works with the company. Recently, he was appointed as the Artistic Director of Staatsballett Berlin. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. Let’s dive into five exceptional ballets choreographed by Christian Spuck.

Romeo and Juliet – 2012

The beautiful ball from Christian Spuck’s Romeo and Juliet. 

In 2012, Spuck reimagined Shakespeare’s timeless classic with Ballett Zürich. His creative choreography and staging refocuses the tale on the nuanced conflict between the two rival families, unearthing the darker side of this iconic love story. Designer Emma Ryott’s costumes create a whimsically dark world with an Elizabethan-meets-Men in Black feel. Keeping Prokofiev’s iconic score, Spuck has created completely new choreography, combining technically complex, structured movements with playful anecdotes. His take on the famous Dance of The Knights is particularly striking with sword-wielding gentlemen and brilliantly bustled ladies. His choreography for Romeo and Juliet stands out in stark contrast to the rigid movements of their families. Their tender Act 2 pas de deux is breathtakingly loving and passionate. 


Messa da Requiem – 2016

Liber Scriptus from Christian Spuck’s Messa da Requiem.

In 2016, Christian Spuck tackled Verdi’s monumental Requiem, aiming to create a choreographic narrative that would match the impact of the famous choral work. Collaborating with the Zürich Opera Chorus and the Ballett Zürich dancers, Spuck crafted a profoundly three-dimensional work that emphasizes the vulnerability and impermanence of the human condition. The chorus remains on stage throughout the performance, seamlessly picking up bits of choreography, and showcasing a breadth of artistic abilities. In an interview about the work, Spuck remarked, “When the choir begins to sing in the first rehearsal, the dancers all start welling up because of the sheer joy of being in immediate proximity to people who are creating such an amazing atmosphere with their vocal cords.” Emma Ryott’s sleek and minimalist costumes allow all the focus to be on the dancers as they twist and bend like otherworldly creatures, defying gravity and creating unexpected architectural forms. In the end, Spuck’s choreography triumphantly matched the acclaim of Verdi’s masterpiece. 

Curious about how he did it? Get a glimpse into how Spuck brought this masterpiece to life in the documentary Stepping into The Unknown, which lifts the veil on Spuck’s fascinating creative process.

The Nutcracker and The Mouse King – 2017

The famous Dance of the Mirlitons gets a humorous twist in Spuck’s The Nutcracker and The Mouse King.

Tired of the same old Sugar Plum Fairies and Snowdrops? Spuck’s The Nutcracker and The Mouse King is a fresh take on Tchaikovsky’s classic.   Spuck takes a closer look at the original inspiration for the ballet, a short story by E.T.A Hoffmann, delving into the dark and fantastical elements of the tale. In an interview, he remarked, “If you read the original book… It is actually an adult story and a horror story. It’s very creepy and it’s very weird.” In this version, Drosselmeyer is not the entertaining party magician you may know but an ominous wizard who uses his magic to manipulate those around him, blurring the lines between dream and reality. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of lighthearted magic in this instant classic. Spuck uses Tchaikovsky’s original score as a starting point, rearranging songs and shaking up the music to fit his new narrative. A pair of clowns dance to an accordion cover of “Dance of the Mirlitons” – a cover you never knew you needed. Buki Schiff’s costumes add a touch of playfulness with floral fairies, cake-covered tutus, and elegant gowns,  as dancers effortlessly execute Spuck’s intricate choreography. The piece is riveting from start to finish and will leave you wanting to watch it year after year.

Winterreise – 2018

Der stürmische Morgen from Christian Spuck’s Winterreise.

Once again, Christian Spuck seamlessly blends the power of dance and the voice in his beautiful interpretation of Schubert’s famous song cycle, Winterreise. The original song cycle sets 24 dark and wintery poems, written by Wilhelm Müller, to music telling a tale of lost love and a wanderer’s journey through the harsh winter forest. Spuck opted for an unconventional setting, composed by Hans Zender, for Tenor and chamber orchestra. The lone tenor stands just off stage, embodying the wanderer. Men on stilts, and dancers in sleek bodysuits and winter coats, courtesy of Emma Ryott, gracefully flow on and off stage. Menacing ravens follow masked dancers and disappearing floors usher bodies between worlds. Spuck’s effortless choreography creates an unmistakable eerie yet tranquil atmosphere, perfectly capturing both the serene beauty and harshness of winter.

Sleeping Beauty – 2020

A fabulous sextet of fine-suited fairies from Christian Spuck’s Sleeping Beauty

This isn’t the Disney story you’re familiar with. Spuck’s Sleeping Beauty avoids the frothy tutus and sugar-coated tales we expect, instead creating a captivating psychological narrative about human fallibility. Thanks to his creative retelling, each character becomes a complex three-dimensional player.  The ‘’evil’’ Carabosse (a.k.a Maleficent) receives a much-needed backstory, creating a multifaceted character who will have you oscillating between compassion and detest throughout the entire story. Spuck maintains a sense of lighthearted whimsy in the piece thanks to a fabulous sextet of fine-suited fairies. Princess Aurora courageously breaks free from expectations to forge her own path. Her technically challenging choreography effortlessly evokes the passion of youth. Buki Shiff’s creative costumes are a visual feast, featuring sleek suited fairies, Dior-esque ball gowns, and deconstructed panniers.

Christian Spuck’s unique choreographic language, talent for storytelling, and clever humor make his ballets captivating and unforgettable. Each of his original ballets is a completely new creative and choreographic experience. See Spuck’s choreography in action and stream all five of his brilliant ballets anytime on Marquee TV

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