Pressemitteilung vom 07.05.2024

Alexander Ekman meets EUROPA 2: Renowned choreographer stages his latest work exclusively on board

  • Unconventional, courageous, demanding: the celebrated Swedish choreographer creates “TAKE FIVE” exclusively for and on the “Best Ship in the World”*
  • Innovative: Ekman brings his contemporary dance at an outstanding level to the high seas for the first time
  • 2025 already planned: Cruise in June 2024 fully booked, next year's itinerary bookable now

Choreographer and dancer Alexander Ekman has been considered an exceptional talent since the beginning of his career and is now one of the best-known and most innovative artists in his profession. His works celebrated numerous successes on the world's major stages. Now he is planning his next masterpiece: dance art at the highest level with the best international dancers – staged on the high seas on the “best ship in the world”. The EUROPA 2 stands for the highest quality, individual service and innovation. It redefined the modern understanding of luxury on the world's oceans and has been setting new standards since it was put into service. A claim that also drives Ekman. In June, he turns the small luxury ship into his muse and stage as it travels along the Scottish coast and through the Norwegian fjords. The movement of the sea, the festive Midsummer atmosphere in company of the guests and artists on the small ship – all this inspires the Swedish-born artist to create his latest work "TAKE FIVE", which he creates exclusively for and in the context of this special stage.

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Born in Sweden, Alexander Ekman began his dance career at the Royal Swedish Ballet, one of the oldest ballet companies in Europe. He danced with the Cullberg Ballet and the Nederlands Dans Theater 2. In 2006, he ended his active dancing career to devote himself full-time to choreographing. Since then, his works have been in demand internationally by ballet and dance companies and represent a unique and original style that playfully and masterfully combines humour, surprise and provocation. Fast-paced and athletic, his choreographies break through the boundaries of traditional dance.

Alexander Ekman wants to try something new, to challenge himself and his audience. The collaboration with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and the EUROPA 2 arose from this spirit and ambition. Never before has a contemporary dance piece of this level and with this artistry been created and staged on a ship on the high seas – a novelty for Ekman and also for the small luxury cruise ship. “We are very proud that exceptional artist Alexander Ekman is implementing this courageous project on our EUROPA 2. His works have incredible expressiveness and manage to connect his audience through this special experience. Something that is also reflected in the claim of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Our guests will experience an incredible dance performance on board, and we are very happy that there will be a reunion with Alexander Ekman and the world-class dancers on board the EUROPA 2 in 2025,” confirms Julian Pfitzner, CEO Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Commenting on his latest project, Alexander Ekman says: “I am looking forward to performing my work in such an unconventional location. I have never adapted any of my work for a ship before and I am very excited to see what it feels like to work and create on the high seas. I am also excited to see the audience's reactions in this very intimate atmosphere of the small exclusive ship that is the EUROPA 2, where we are all literally in the same boat, unlike an opera house. I hope you enjoy the show!”

Alexander Ekman about the project in the video:

“Last year, I welcomed Alexander Ekman on board for four days to provide the initial creative impulses. During this time, he fell in love with the ship and the movements at sea. I am very much looking forward to working and travelling with Alexander Ekman, as we now have the opportunity to present one of his outstanding works, which can usually be seen in the world’s most prestigious opera houses, to our guests on board. With this work, we display a previously undiscovered facet in the cruise entertainment landscape,” says Foad Naddafi, Artistic Director at Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

For this special journey, which takes the ship, the guests and the dancers to the Scandinavian fjords for the premiere on board on Midsummer Night, Ekman takes over the EUROPA 2’s theatre and brings his new masterpiece to the floating stage. He brings together ten of the world's best dancers for this show: “These dancers come from the best companies in the world. So I am really excited to see this group of dancers come together because it’s actually the first time we’re going to see them together in this constellation,” Ekman said.

For “TAKE FIVE”, Alexander Ekman is bringing together the following dancers:

  • Matias Rochas Moura
  • Grace Lyell
  • Ève-Marie Dalcourt
  • Hélias Dorvault
  • Boston Gallacher
  • Johnny McMillan
  • Tess Voelcker
  • Casia Vengoechea
  • Robbie Moore
  • Toon Lobach

Created for the EUROPA 2, “TAKE FIVE” is a contemporary dance masterpiece and a homage to the iconic piece by jazz quartet Dave Brubeck. "This work is inspired by one of my favorite pieces of music ever and that's Dave Brubeck's. I love this music and I listen to it all the time,” says Alexander Ekman. “TAKE FIVE” is based on Ekman’s existing work “FIT”, in which he dynamically stages themes such as flexibility, uniqueness, and cultural norms. At the same time, TAKE FIVE will be a new creation that adds an additional dimension with a unique rhythm structure. In his dynamic and powerful production, he will seamlessly integrate the movements of the ship at sea and the movements of the people on board into the choreography, skilfully combining elements of humour and satire to bring athleticism, precision, and theatricality to the stage with a playful wink.

The journey takes the EUROPA 2 from the Hanseatic city of Hamburg across the Elbe and North Sea, along the English and Scottish coasts, the Orkney and Shetland Islands and on to the Norwegian coast to Bergen, before cruising through the picturesque fjord landscape so that guests and the dance crew can experience the atmospheric mood of this region at Midsummer. The longest day of the year is celebrated on Midsummer in Ekman's home country of Sweden as well as in Norway. Ekman deliberately stages his premiere on board on this day to make this sense of community part of the experience. The small luxury ship then travels via Kristiansand and further across the Elbe back to Hamburg. This year's cruise is already fully booked – which is why Alexander Ekman and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises have already started planning for another voyage on which guests can experience this piece in the summery setting of the Mediterranean next year.

Alexander Ekman meets EUROPA 2 – 2025:
From Monte Carlo to Palma de Mallorca, via Cannes, Corsica, Sardinia past the Aeolian Islands with calls at Sicily and Ibiza, from 7 Aug to 16 Aug 2025 (9 days). Bookable from EUR 6,710 per person (PLATINUM fare, double occupancy), incl. travel arrangements to cruise departure/from cruise arrival point. Further information:

About Alexander Ekman:
Around 50 dance companies worldwide performed pieces by Ekman. In 2006, Ekman achieved international recognition with "Flockwork" for Nederlands Dans Theater 2, followed by works for renowned ensembles such as the Cullberg Ballet, Compañia Nacional de Danza, Gothenburg Ballet, and others. His first full-length ballet, "Ekman's Triptych," was created in 2011 for the Cullberg Ballet. That same year, he also served as a teacher and choreographer at the Juilliard School in New York City before becoming an Associated Choreographer at the Nederlands Dans Theater from 2011 to 2013.
In 2010, Ekman scored a global hit with "Cacti," which garnered numerous awards and continues to be performed worldwide by prestigious dance companies. Similar to "Cacti," Ekman often takes on additional roles such as composer or video artist in his works, showcasing a wide range of artistic expressions.
His films are increasingly gaining interest as a distinct art form. In 2009, Ekman collaborated with the Cullberg Ballet to create the dance film "40 Meters Under," which aired on Swedish television. Since their first collaboration on "Tyll" in 2012, Ekman has maintained a close partnership with composer Mikael Karlsson to create full-length narrative pieces such as "A Swan Lake," "Midsommarnattsdröm," "Escapist," and "Play."
After introducing "Cacti" to the Semperoper Ballett Dresden in 2013, Ekman created his fourth full-length work, "COW," which received the German Theater Prize Der FAUST in 2016. In 2019, he collaborated for the first time with the Staatsballett Berlin on "LIB."
Now, Ekman will premiere his work aboard a ship with "TAKE FIVE," a new creation based on his existing work "FIT," which was first performed in 2018 at the Zuiderstrandtheater in The Hague.

* Insight Guides Cruising & Cruise Ships 2024

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