Stijn Celis was born in 1964 and is the product of a Belgian father and a Mauritian mother. After living in Zaire (Congo) until 1972, his family moved back to Belgium. Stijn started his dance education in 1980 at the Koninklijke Balletschool in Antwerp. In 1982 he joined the Royal Ballet of Flanders. During this period he was given a scholarship to attend the Graham school in Florence where he met its founder Martha Graham. In 1986 he joined Zurich Ballet as a demi-soloist performing many leading roles. From 1990 until 1992 he danced with Contemporary Dance Zurich. In 1992 he became a member of Le Ballet du Grand Theatre de Genève and remained there under the direction of Gradimir Pankov until 1996. During this period he started choreographing and in 1997 Mats Ek invited him to choreograph for the opening performance of the Holland Festival. From 1996 to 1997 he danced for the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm and created Ubiloz Vanila and Fox for the company.
In 1998, at the age of 32, Mr. Celis stopped performing and moved back to Antwerp to study stage design at the Hogeschool voor Dramatische Kunsten where he graduated with the mention “Highest Distinction.” Mr. Celis was the assistant to designers Jan Verzweyveld and Benoit Dujardin. He worked at the Het Zuidelijk Toneel under Ivo van Hove. In the same period he resumed choreographing.
In the following years he created ballets for Ballet Gulbenkian (Lisbon), Les Grands ballets Canadiens (Montreal), Cullberg Ballet (Stockholm), Ballet Nurnberg, Bern Ballet, Cedar Lake (New York), IT danca (Barcelona), Ballet Mainz, Diversions (Cardiff), Icelandic Dance Company, Sujet a Vif (Festival d’Avignon), Nederlands Dans Theater II (Den Haag) and Ballet Wiesbaden. He also collaborated in opera productions at La Monnaie (Eugene Onegin, staging by Christoph Loy), Nederlandse Reisopera (Ariodante and Freischutz), and Les Rencontres d’Opera Baroque, Bretagne (Le Toi Arthur).
From 2004 until 2007 Mr. Celis was the artistic director of the Ballet des Stadttheater Bern where he created works such as the Rite of Spring for Two Pianos, Swanlake, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and Dreamplay (in collaboration with Linus Tünstrom) to name just a few. Recent projects took him to St- Gallen, Montreal, Gothemburg, and Antwerp. In 2001 in the critic survey of the magazine Tanz International named him most promising young choreographer of that year and his Swanlake in 2006 was named most innovative production.
Stijn Celis recently choreographed Henze’s “Ondine” for Aalto ballet in Essen and has been a short term scholar at the Juilliard School in New York. He has future commissions for the Gothenburg Ballet, Ballet of the Semperoper Dresden, Introdans Holland and Jacobs Pillow.
He has danced works by Valery Panov, George Balanchine, Uwe Scholz, Itzik Galilli, Jiri Kylian, Christopher Bruce, Ohad Naharin, and Mats Ek and has collaborated with artists and directors Paula Rego, Franticek Klossner, Yoshi Oida, Omri Nitzan, Amir Zuabi, Linus Tünstrom, Guy Joosten, Christoph Loy and Imogen Kogge. Stijn Celis currently resides in Montreux, Switzerland.