Konstanze Vernon

Konstanze Vernon is one of Germany's most distinguished personalities of classical ballet. She began her training at the age of six with the renowned Russian teacher Tatjana Gsovsky and the tender age of fourteen joined the Berlin Ballet. At seventeen, Vernon was promoted and became the youngest soloist of the ensemble. Honouring her artistic achievements in ballet, Vernon was the first German to receive the Serge-Lifar-Award from the Paris Académie de Danse in 1962.

Heinz Rosen, Artistic Director of the Bavarian State Opera, offered Vernon a soloist contract for the Munich ensemble in 1963. She went on to dance nearly every major role in classical and modern repertoire and stayed with the company for eighteen years. Vernon and her partner Heinz Bosl quickly became Munich’s dream couple. She set standards for new generations of dancers with her interpretation of the tragic role of Giselle and the character of Tatjana in John Cranko's ballet Onegin. Another memorable appearance was her performance in Gerhard Bohner's The tortures of Beatrice Cenci.

During her active dancing career, Vernon began dedicating her attention to excellence in dance education. She taught classes at the University for Music in Munich and accepted a post as professor after her career as a performer. Following the loss of her partner Heinz Bosl, Vernon installed a foundation in his honour in 1978, setting the groundwork for the redevelopment of dance education in Bavaria. Significant changes were made by the introduction of the Vaganova system as well the appointment of several Russian teachers.

The number of successful students increased significantly. For the first time in ballet history, students of a Western German academy won Gold, Silver and Bronze titles at prestigious ballet competitions in Moscow, Helsinki and Jackson/Mississippi. More and more graduates signed professional contracts following their education in Munich. The state of Bavaria and the city of Munich honoured the dynamic progress with a complete remodel of an old tram station in the heart of Munich's student quarter Schwabing to accommodate the facilities of a new training centre for ballet.

In 1988, the state government of Bavaria chose Vernon for the important task of turning the Opera Ballet into its own, stand-alone company, the Bavarian State Ballet. Vernon accepted the challenge and implemented the construction of a rehearsal and training building for the company. She introduced young, up and coming dance talents to the professional ensemble and expanded on the Munich repertory by adding the masterworks of Europe’s most distinguished choreographers. Guest appearances in New York, Beijing, Shanghai, Manila and Seoul topped off the success of the company during its first seasons. The German premiere of La Bayadère (Choreography by Patrice Bart) marked the end of Vernon's time as artistic director. She then turned her full attention to her position as professor at the Ballet Academy Munich.

During her last years as artistic director, with the help of the Heinz-Bosl-Foundation, Vernon initiated the establishment of a major in ballet pedagogy at the University of Music Munich under the leadership of an international expert in the field, Mr. Alexander Prokofjew. Furthermore, thanks to an inheritance, Vernon installed a dormitory for out of town students adjacent to the ballet academy. Guest appearances of students in Moscow furthered the international reputation of the Ballet Academy Munich.

For her achievements as a performer as well as professor of dance, Konstanze Vernon received countless honours, for example the Bavarian Order of Merit (1982), the Cultural Honorary Award of Munich (1990), the German Dance Award (1991), the Order of Maximilian by the State of Bavaria (1993), the Constitutional Medal of Bavaria (1997), the Bavarian medal of accomplishments Pro Meritis (1998) and the Culture Award of the Bavarian State Foundation (2006). In 1998, she became an honorary member of the Bavarian State Opera.

Konstanze Vernon died on January 21, 2013.