John Neumeier took dancing lessons in his hometown Milwaukee (Wisconsin, USA), where he also choreographed his first works. He went on to study dance in Copenhagen and at the Royal Ballet School in London. In 1963, he joined Stuttgart Ballett as a dancer, where he eventually became a principal.
From 1969, Neumeier directed the ballet company of the city of Frankfurt, becoming director of Ballett Hamburg in 1973. Under his leadership, this company grew into one of the leading companies in Germany and gained wide international recognition.
As a choreographer, Neumeier focused on upholding balletic traditions, while infusing his choreographic works with a modern style of dance. His last works for Hamburg Ballett, Le Pavillon d’Armide and Orpheus, were premiered in 2009.
Neumeier has been a guest choreographer with a great many dance companies, including The Royal Ballet in London, the ballet companies of the national operas of Vienna, Munich, Dresden and Paris, and the Tokyo Ballet.
John Neumeier has received numerous awards, most recent of which are the Herbert von Karajan Musikpreis (2007) and the Deutscher Jubiläums Tanzpreis (2008). In 2007, he was made an honorary citizen of Hamburg.
In 2010 the Dutch National Ballet presented his ballet Sylvia.