Ballet Faculty Bio | Wilhelm Burmann<br />(1940-2020) | Steps on Broadway Faculty – Steps on Broadway

Ballet

Wilhelm Burmann
(1940-2020)
NEW YORK, March 31, 2020 -- It is with great sadness that Steps on Broadway announces the passing of Wilhelm "Willy" Burmann, due to unexpected complications from a recent illness. He taught advanced professional ballet classes at Steps since 1984. You can read his obituary in The New York Times here .

Mr. Burmann was the consummate ballet master and one of the most respected New York ballet teachers of his era. He was a teacher, coach, and mentor, who played a significant role in shaping, sculpting, and inspiring both body and mind of many of the greatest dance artists from around the world. His guiding principles were proper alignment and musicality. The New York Times had this to say about his work: "Armed with playful sarcasm and bracing honesty, he works methodically to build a dancer's physical strength through the repetition of moves and the breakneck speed at which they do them." Many of the biggest names in American ballet took his class or were coached by him, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Julio Bocca, Alessandra Ferri, David Hallberg, Maria Kowroski, and Wendy Whelan. His classes drew not just ballet dancers, but dancers of all kinds seeking out excellence of form.

"Willy was a fixture in the morning ritual at Steps, always arriving early to warm up and prepare for his students. His discipline and dedication to his craft were unparalleled. Steps will not be the same without him," said Carol Paumgarten, Founder of Steps.

"His life was in the studio," said Ms. Whelan, Associate Artistic Director of New York City Ballet, "and I was lucky to watch the miracles of ballet unfold within his class each day. He was a force to be reckoned with, demanding, exacting, intimidating. But, there was also his incredible wit, that eternal spark and twinkle in his eye exuding humor and a depth of care and love for his dancers that was unmatched."

Mr. Burmann danced with New York City Ballet for four years, was a Principal Dancer for Frankfurt Ballet and Grand Theatre du Genève for whom he was also Ballet Master. He was a Principal at Stuttgart Ballet and danced for many other companies including Pennsylvania Ballet and New Jersey Ballet. He has also been Ballet Master for Washington Ballet and Ballet du Nord. Besides being on the faculty of Steps, he has also taught on faculty at the Melissa Hayden School of Ballet, Harkness Ballet School and Ballet Arts in New York. He was a guest faculty member for a host of companies including American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Milan's La Scala, Ballet Nacional Sodre, and Australian Ballet to name but a few. The University of Iowa and Skidmore College's Saratoga Program also benefited from their association with Mr. Burmann.


Mr. Burmann danced with New York City Ballet for 4 years, was a Principal Dancer for Frankfurt Ballet and Grand Theatre du Genève for whom he was also Ballet Master. He was a Principal at Stuttgart Ballet and danced for many other companies including Pennsylvania Ballet and New Jersey Ballet.

He has also been Ballet Master for Washington Ballet and Ballet du Nord and has personally coached many of the biggest names in American Ballet. Besides being on the faculty of Steps he has also taught on faculty at the Melissa Hayden School of Ballet, Harkness Ballet School and Ballet Arts in New York. He is a guest faculty member for a host of companies including American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Milan's La Scala and Australian Ballet to name but a few. The University of Iowa and Skidmore College's Saratoga Program also benefit from his association with Wilhelm Burmann.

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Mr. Burmann's noted class epitomizes his teaching philosophy which he outlined for Dance Magazine in 1994.
The cost in the classroom for a dancer to become a professional is to become totally involved in all parts of the class from beginning to end, executing all the combinations rhythmically and with correct technique, avoiding difficulties, facing the possibility of failure, of looking awkward, learning to trust, to believe and to let go. When one is committed to this, one can do what one wants artistically. But without the illusion of beauty in all this, the work would be uninteresting. The idea is not to be beautiful but to give the illusion of beauty. This is the application of the principle of dance lifted to the ultimate.