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Das Schlepperballett
© Andreas Vallbracht
Das Schlepperballett
© Hamburg Messe und Congress / Nicolas Maack
Das Schlepperballett
© Hamburg Messe und Congress / Nicolas Maack
Das Schlepperballett
© Hamburg Messe und Congress / Nicolas Maack
Das Schlepperballett
© Hamburg Messe und Congress / Nicolas Maack
Das Schlepperballett
© Hamburg Messe und Congress / Nicolas Maack

The Tugboat Ballet

May 8, 2021

The tugboat ballet at the HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERASRY is a unique and impressive show.

When the tugboats on the Elbe start to dance, it's time again for the worldwide unique Schlepperballet at the HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY. The famous tugboat ballet, which traditionally takes place on Saturday afternoon, is one of the highlights of every HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY. Year after year, enthusiastic fans watch the spectacle live on location at the Landungsbrücken and at home on TV. It seems almost magical how the heavy tugs turn pirouettes to classical music and sway in the Elbe in harmony to the melody.

A retrospective: The Schlepperballett last year

Captain Michael Schnabel gave the starting signal for the unique performance last year. The harbour pilot has been responsible for the choreography of the Schlepperballet for several years. When selecting the music last year, he focused on classical music: "For years, I have been working on the music to which the tugboats can move best and i would like to show that there are beautiful works in classical music in particular, to which tugboats can dance and make figures. In addition to classical works by Verdi and Tchaikovsky, the tugboats danced to titles from well-known films such as "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Beyond Africa" last year. The traditional final song of the tugboat ballet is "In Hamburg sagt man Tschüss" by Heidi Kabel, to which the tugboats form a circle and bid farewell to the audience.

Last year, Concertmaster Schnabel was confronted with a special challenge: in addition to four small tugboats, a larger model took part in the ballet for the first time. "The size does not refer to the dimensions, but to the performance and pulling power", explains Michael Schnabel. "This also reflects the development of the port. The ships are getting bigger and bigger. Accordingly, we also need ever more powerful tugs. [...]", says Schnabel.

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