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Mats Ek

Mats Ek has worked as a choreographer for 41 years. He is one of the most important names on the international dance scene. Mats Ek completed a dance course under Donya Feurer in the summer of 1962 and then studied theatre at Mariebergs Folk High School. Between 1966 and 1973 he worked as assistant director and director at the Marionette Theatre, Stockholm’s Stadsteater and the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. Mats Ek was a dancer at the Cullberg Ballet from 1973 and from 1976 also a choreographer. From 1982 to 1993 he was the artistic director of the Cullberg Ballet, a task he took over from his mother Birgit Cullberg.

Mats Ek has created some twenty dance productions for the Cullberg Ballet. Some of them are new interpretations of the major classics, among them Giselle (1982) and Swan Lake (1987) that were on the repertoire for fifteen years and have been performed by the Cullberg Ballet all over the world. In 1992 he created Carmen, the TV-version of which won an Emmy. Included in the non-narrative genre were ballets such as She was Black and Solo for Two, which also won an Emmy when it was produced for TV under the name of Smoke.

Ek’s breakthrough production was Saint George and the Dragon, performed at Stora Teatern in 1978. The scenography was by Marie-Louise Ekman, and Ulf Gadd performed the role of Saint George. 1980 saw the production of The House of Bernarda Alba, again with scenography by Ekman. Vilgot Gyllengran danced the role of Bernarda and the ballet became so successful that it was performed again in 1982. Both productions were created during Ulf Gadds time as Ballet Director at Stora Teatern. When Gadd then returned to the Göteborg Opera as ballet director, Mats Ek’s Giselle (1999) was produced. Monica Milocco danced the leading role, with Annethe Kevin alternating in the role,and the scenography once again bore the signature of Marie-Louise Ekman. This production too was so highly acclaimed that it was revived, with a new premiere in January 2001.

After leaving the Cullberg Ballet in 1993 Mats Ek worked as a freelancechoreographer and gave guest performances in many parts of the world. Apart from creating ballets for the Cullberg Ballet he has also choreographed works for the Hamburg Ballet (Sleeping Beauty, 1996), Nederlands Dans Theater (A Sort of, 1977, etc.) and the Paris Opéra Ballet (Appartement, 2000). Sleeping Beauty and A Sort Of were subsequently included in the Cullberg Ballet’s repertoire. In 2005 Mats Ek choreographed Aluminium for Compañia Nacional de Danza in Madrid. Parallel with his dance career, Mats Ek has also directed/choreographed dance theatre for Unga Klara in Stockholm (Dance with your Neighbour 1995), The Orion Theatre (On Malta 1996, Johanna 1998) and The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm (Don Juan, 1999; Andromache, 2002, The Merchant of Venice, 2004). Mats Ek is currently engaged as director/choreographer of A Dream Play that had its premiere at The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm.

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