Heinz Spoerli trained with Walter Kleiber and his first engagement was with the ballet of Waclaw Orlikowsky at the theatre in his home town of Basel. Between 1963 and 1973 he danced as a soloist with the ballet of the Bühnen der Stadt Köln under Todd Bolender, with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal, with the Ballett Basel and the Ballet of the Grand Théâtre de Genève. After his first choreographic works, he established himself as a choreographer at the Grand Théâtre de Genève with the enormous success of his world premiere Le chemin in 1972. Directing three distinctive ensembles in the following decades – the Basel Ballet (1973–1991), the Ballett der Deutschen Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf Duisburg (1991–1996) and the Zurich Ballet (1996–2012) – he distinguished himself also as one of the leading ballet directors.
His extensive œuvre ranges from new interpretations of classical ballets such as La Fille mal gardée, Giselle, Coppélia, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Don Quixote and Raymonda to his own creations such as Chäs, Miniatures, Dead End, Loops, Josephslegende and Goldberg-Variationen. Among the most important works of his Zurich period are ... und mied den Wind, Approaching Clouds, In den Winden im Nichts, Allem nah, alles fern, moZART, Les débauches du rêve, Peer Gynt and Das Lied von der Erde. Heinz Spoerli has made guest appearances at the Opéra de Paris, Teatro alla Scala, in Berlin, Hong Kong, Lisbon, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Mulhouse and Graz. At the 2012 Salzburg Festival, he created a ballet programme and the choreography for Sven-Eric Bechtolf's production of Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos in co-production with the Vienna State Opera.
Heinz Spoerli’s links with Vienna go back to the 1970s, when he created Faschingsschwank aus Wien for the Vienna Ballet Festival in 1977 and the choreography for a Boccaccio production at the Volksoper. In 1990, his Pulcinella premiered at the Vienna State Opera, as did his choreography for the musical Freudiana at the Theater an der Wien. Furthermore, he created the dance interludes for the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s concerts in 1996 and 1998.
In 1982 Heinz Spoerli was awarded the Hans-Reinhart Ring, Switzerland’s highest theatre prize at the time. This was followed by the Art Prize of the City of Basel in 1991, the Jacob Burckhardt Prize in 1995, the Zurich Art Prize in 2007, the German Dance Prize and the German Critics’ Prize in 2009, the Zurich Festival Prize and the A Life for Dance Award of the Miami International Ballet Festival in 2012.