OBITUARY: Jurgen Schneider

Jurgen Schneider was a teacher of ballet with exceptional gifts of musicality, style and powerful projection. His authoritative personality and concentrated drive carried him successfully to participation with some of the world's leading companies. In recent years he was much in demand teaching and coaching at the American Ballet Theatre, New York, at the Hamburg Ballet and as guest teacher with the Royal Ballet in London.

Schneider was born in Berlin in 1936. His first dancing lessons were in the style of Mary Wigman - a modern - but he later studied classical ballet in a government school. His first professional engagement was with the Weimar Ballet, from which he progressed to the Komisch Oper, Berlin. Although he was tall and well built his dancing career was not particularly notable, and from early days his analytical brain was focused on teaching.

When the Bolshoi Ballet made its first post-war appearance in East Berlin in 1958 he was bowled over by the sheer grandeur of the dancing. He lost no time in persuading the management of the Komisch Oper to give him a grant to study at the Bolshoi and GITIS in Moscow. He became greatly influenced by the famous teacher Nicolai Tarasov and after four years he received the Soviet Diploma for teaching; he went on to study for a further year at the Vaganova Choreographic Academy in Leningrad, where he was a classmate of Nureyev.

During this time he became acquainted with a remarkable young Japanese dancer, Hideo Fukagawa. In 1969 he persuaded Fukagawa to train with him and to take part in the Moscow Ballet competition. Arriving in Moscow three weeks before the contest Fukagawa worked slavishly with Schneider and the result was astonishing. With scarcely any professional experience Fukagawa walked away with second prize.

Schneider returned to the Komisch Oper taking Fukagawa with him, and enjoyed a rising career. Fukagawa was awarded the Nijinsky Prize in Paris and in 1970 Schneider prepared him to compete in Varna, where he was first among male dancers but was grudgingly awarded only a silver medal. The pocket-sized Japanese stayed on with Schneider at the Komisch Oper but his ambition was to dance with his fellow competitor Eva Evdokimova. The only trouble was that she was several inches too tall for him.

Schneider built his fame as a teacher on the success of Fukagawa; they became firm friends and their collaboration prospered. Schneider was well placed at the Komisch Oper, where he taught alongside the brilliant Olga Lepeshinskaya. They cultivated a well-selected group of dancers who performed novel and impressive choreographies by Tom Schilling, in the repertoire of Walter Felsenstein, a producer of genius. The company toured Egypt, Bulgaria and Finland with outstanding success. But the ambitious Schneider had set his sights on the West; his quality of life outside the theatre - he lived with his family in a tenement block in East Berlin - was a shabby existence.

From Helsinki Schneider defected, coming first to London with Fukagawa, who danced a sensational Blue Bird in Richard Buckle's Diaghilev Gala Evening at the Coliseum. The friends now parted company, Schneider to take up a teaching appointment with the Stuttgart Ballet while Fukagawa became an idol of Munich Ballet until injuries cut short his dancing days. After a year at Stuttgart, Schneider spent a season at the Munich Opera, made his way to the US and was welcomed with open arms by Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was artistic director of American Ballet Theatre.

For Baryshnikov, Schneider offered the diet of class-work that had developed his stature. Schneider became a very popular teacher who offered strength with style in the true Russian mould. From 1975 to 1991 he was continuously engaged in coaching and perfecting the technique of many of the stars of ABT, as well as appearing with the company in a number of mime and character roles including Lord Montague in Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet.

Schneider founded and directed a teacher workshop in Astoria, Queens, in 1989. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Western Michigan University in 1992. Recently he was guest teacher at the Royal Ballet. He also taught in Australia.

In New York he married Victoria Rockwell, who bore him a son. They moved this year to Miami Beach, Florida, where tragically he met his death from drowning.

Jurgen Schneider, dancer, teacher: born Berlin 2 May 1936; married Victoria Rockwell (one son); died Miami, Florida 15 August 1995.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Midsummer swimwear season is well and truly upon us – but diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice