Zurich Ballet director Heinz Spoerli has won this year's German Dance Prize, the most prestigious award in Europe for dance and choreography.
The prolific Basel-born choreographer – or dancemaker as he likes to be known – will be presented with the award by the German Dance Teacher Association in March.
Spoerli already had an illustrious career behind him when he arrived in Zurich, where he has been at the helm for 11 years. The former dancer-turned-choreographer had spent time at the Basel Ballet and at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf.
The Zurich Ballet has 38 dancers in the main company and 15 youngsters from the Junior Ballet, which was set up by Spoerli to promote a new generation of dancers.
Zurich Ballet was divided over modern and classical dance on Spoerli's arrival. He made it neoclassical – it dances the classics, often with original touches, but also works by modern-day choreographers, including his own.
The company, which often plays to full houses in Zurich, tours extensively around the world. Among Spoerli's best-known choreographies are the Goldberg Variations and In den Winden im Nichts, also based on Bach.