• Der Nussknacker | © Bettina Stöß

  • Onegin | © Saad Hamza

  • Schwanensee | © Bettina Stöß

  • Rock around Barock | © Bettina Stöß

  • Rock around Barock | © Bettina Stöß

  • Tanzhommage an Queen | © Bettina Stöß

Aalto Ballett Essen


Ben Van Cauwenbergh has been dirctor of the Aalto Ballett Essen, a company with 30 dancers, since 2008. With ballets by internationally renowned guest choreographers as well as his own creations, the Belgian aims to present dance in its diverse forms and build a bridge between the classic and the modern. In addition to famous classics, the repertoire also includes modern story ballets by Heinz Spoerli, Stijn Celis, John Cranko or David Dawson as well as choreographies by Patrick Delcroix, Jiří Kylián, Ohad Naharin or Alexander Ekman. Van Cauwenbergh's own works are primarily carefully refreshed versions of classical ballets such as "The Nutcracker" or "Swan Lake"or "Sleeping Beauty", but also popular dance evenings such as "Rock around Barock" and "Dance Homage to Queen". A special concern of the former solo dancer is the promotion of young talent. On the one hand, he would like to show his dancers a future perspective: within the framework of the series "PTAH - Young Choreographers", which he initiated, he enables members of his company to test their choreographic talent. He has also given some of the ensemble's dancers the opportunity to perform full-length pieces on the Aalto stage. On the other hand, Van Cauwenbergh offers a lot for children and young people: Every two years since 2015, there has been an education project for Essen school pupils in the form of "Queeny" and "Queeny Unplugged". Furthermore, he regularly cooperates with the Tanzgymnasium Essen-Werden.


History and biography

On the ensemble´s history

The Aalto Ballett Essen is one of five departments at the multi-arts venue Theater und Philharmonie Essen. It has been housed in the Aalto Theater, one of the most remarkable theatre buildings of the 20th century, since 1988. Long-term ballet directors Heidrun Schwarz and Martin Puttke established a vibrant tradition which is now being continued by Ben Van Cauwenbergh – as ballet director since 2008 and artistic director of ballet since 2013 – to great public acclaim and critical success. Van Cauwenbergh’s works, characterised by a classical aesthetic incorporating contemporary dance elements, can be found in ballet repertoires worldwide. 

Ben Van Cauwenbergh

Ben Van Cauwenbergh hails from an Antwerp family of dancers and was a soloist with the Royal Ballet of Flanders. From 1978-1984, he was principal soloist with the London Festival Ballet (now the English National Ballet), where he danced alongside Rudolf Nureyev and performed several leading roles. In 1987, he became principal soloist at the Ballett von Bern and in 1989, he was appointed ballet director and chief choreographer in Lucerne (Switzerland). From 1992-2007 he worked as ballet director and chief choreographer at the Hessische Staatstheater Wiesbaden. In 2008, Ben Van Cauwenbergh became ballet director of the Aalto Ballett Essen and later assumed the post of artistic director of the ballet in 2013. 

“Strong classical dance technique is the basis for modern ballet of the highest standard.”  

Ben Van Cauwenbergh




  • 2019/2020


    Productions from the 2019/2020 season


    Dornröschen (2019)

    Ballet by Ben Van Cauwenbergh after Marius Petipa

    Music: P. I. Tschaikowski


    Drei Schwestern (1984)

    Ballet by Valery Panov after Anton Tschechow

    Music: Sergej Rachmaninow


    Don Quichotte für Kinder (2017)

    Shortend version of the comic ballet by Ben Van Cauwenbergh after Marius Petipa
    Music: Ludwig Minkus (Music from tape)

    23 dancers, 2 supernumeraries, stage 15 x 15 m, 50 min.


    Onegin (1967)

    Choreography: John Cranko after Alexander Puschkin

    Music: P. I. Tschaikowski, arranged by Kurt-Heinz Stolze

    37 dancers, stage 15 x 15 m, 150 min.


    Rock around Barock (2019)

    Ballet evening by Ben Van Cauwenbergh and the rock band Mallet

    Music by J. S. Bach to the Beatles

    Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh, with contributions from: Igor Volkovskyy

    26 dancers, live band, 1 cellist, 1 pianist, stage 15 x 15 m, 120 min.


    Schwanensee (2018)

    Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh after Marius Petipa und Lew Ivanocv

    Music: P. I. Tschaikowski

    37 dancers, stage 15 x 15 m, 165 min.


    Tanzhommage an Queen (2004)

    Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh

    Music: Queen

    27 dancers, 20 dance students, stage 15 x 15 m, 90 min.


    Der Nussknacker (2015)

    Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh

    Music: P. I. Tschaikowski

    34 dancers, X ballet students, stage 15 x 15 m, 120 min.

  • previous seasons

    previous seasons

    Productions from the 2018/2019 season

    Queeny Unplugged (2019)
    (Education project of the Aalto Ballet Essen)
    With school children from Essen as well as soloists and the Corps de ballet of the Aalto Ballet Essen
    Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh, music: Queen

    Cinderella (2011)
    Choreography: Stijn Celis, music: Sergej Prokofjew, Les Baxter
    25 dancers, stage dimensions 15 x 15m, 90 min.

    Don Quichotte (2016)
    Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh based on Marius Petipa, music: Ludwig Minkus
    30 dancers, 2 extras, stage dimensions 15 x 15 m, 135 mins


    Productions from the 2017/2018 season

    Moving Colours (2018)
    Ballet evening by Armen Hakobyan und Denis Untila

    10 BY BEN
    An 10th anniversary evening of Ben Van Cauwenbergh at the Aalto-Theater

    3 BY EKMAN

    Tuplet (2012)

    Choreography: Alexander Ekman; music: Mikael Karlsson, Victor Feldman, "Fly Me To The Moon"
    6 dancers, stage dimensions 15 x 15 m, 20 min

    Flockwork (2006)

    Choreography: Alexander Ekman, music: Marguerite Monnot, Alexandre Breffort, Martin Schmidt & Drew Daniel, Evan Ziporyn & Arden Trio, Alexander Ekman, traditional hawaiian music & Christophe
    15 dancers, stage 15 x 15 m, 30 min

    Tyll (2012)
    Choreography: Alexander Ekman, music: Mikael Karlsson, 30 dancers, stage 15 x 15 m, 30 Minuten

    La vie en rose (2003)

    Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh, music: John Adams und französische Chansons mit Gilbert Bécaud, Jacques Brel, Maurice Chevalier und Edith Piaf
    26 dancers, 1 actor, stage 15 x 15 m, 105 min


    Productions from the 2016/2017 season

    Queeny Unplugged (2017)
    Educational project of Aalto Ballet Essen for Schools
    With pupils from Essen, Soloists and the Corps de ballet of Aalto Ballett Essen
    Concept und Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh, music: Queen

    PTAH IV (2017)
    Jung Choreographers at Grillo-Theater
    Choreographies: Dancers of Aalto Ballett Compagnie

    Philia (2017)
    Choreography: Julia Schalitz, music: Triosence "No one's Fault"
    4 dancers, 14 x 14 m, 6 min.

    Life is calling (2017)
    Choreography: Yanelis Rodriguez, music: René Aubry „Mémoires du Futur“
    4 dancers, 14 x 14 m, 6 min.

    M.SELBST (2017)
    Choreography: Qingbin Meng, music: Tan Dun
    1 dancer, 14 x 14 m, 5 min.

    Living waters (2017)
    Choreography: Kevin Durwael, music: Vivaldi
    4 dancers, 14 x 14 m, 7 min.

    Kak DeLa!?! (2017)
    Choreography: Igor Volkovskyy, music from Russia and Ukraine
    17 dancers, 14 x 14 m, 20 min.

    Romeo und Julia (2014)
    Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh, music: Sergej Prokofjew
    30 dancers, 1 jump acrobat, stage 15 x 15m, 120 min

    Premiers from Armen Hakobyan an Denis Untila

    Frequencies (2017)
    Choreography: Armen Hakobyan, music: Johann Sebastian Bach, Allessandro Marcello, Laurie Anderson, Max Richter, Philip Glass u. a.
    9 dancers, 20 min.

    Post Mortem (2017)
    Choreography: Denis Untila, music: Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Arvo Pärt
    13 dancers, 20 min.


    Productions from the 2014/2015 season
    Die Odyssee (2015)
    Choreography: Patrick Delcroix, music: A Silver Mt. Zion, Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott, Ben Frost, Michael Harrison & Maya Beiser, Gija Kantscheli, Abel Korzeniowski, David Lang, Machinefabriek, Dustin O’Halloran, Michael Price
    23 dancers*innen, stage dimensions 15 x 15m, 75 min.

    Queeny (2015)
    Education-Projekt des Aalto Ballett Essen für Schulklassen
    Konzept und Choreography: Ben Van Cauwenbergh, Einstudierung: Nour Eldesouki, Ben Van Cauwenbergh, music: Queen
    100 school students, 10 ballet students,16 dancers, stage 15 x 15m, 60 min.


    Productions from the 2013/2014 season

    Giselle (2008)
    Coproduction with the musictheater im Revier, Gelsenkirchen
    Choreography: David Dawson, music: Adolphe Adam
    29 dancers, stage 15 x 15 m, 80 min

    Ein Sommernachtstraum (1996)
    Choreography: Heinz Spoerli, music: F. M. Bartholdy, Steve Reich and Philip Glass
    33 dancers, 6 actors, stage 15 x 15 m, 120 min

    Max und Moritz (1984)
    Choreography: Michael Kropf, Libretto: Edmund Gleede, music: Gioacchino Rossini
    27 dancers, 24 students, stage 15 x 15 m, 110 min



Rock around Barock (2019)


Onegin (1967)


Schwanensee (2018)


Nussknacker (2015)


Aalto-Theater Essen
Opernplatz 10 | 45128 Essen
Tel 0201 81 220 | Fax 0201 81 22503

Marek Tuma: marek.tuma@tup-online.de