Béjart, Maurice

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Béjart, Maurice

Maurice Béjart (môrēs´ bāzhär´), 1927–2007, French ballet dancer and opera director, b. Marseilles as Maurice Jean Berger. After studying in Marseilles, Paris, and London, he danced and choreographed for the Royal Swedish Ballet and the Ballets de l'Étoile before forming his own company in 1957. He choreographed (1959–87) for his Ballet of the 20th Century, which he established in Brussels, where it became the resident troupe of the royal opera theater until he moved to Lausanne in 1987. There he renamed the group Béjart Ballet Lausanne; he continued to work with the company until his death.

In keeping with European tradition, Béjart emphasized content over innovation in movement. Many of his themes were academic, cultural, or biographical in content; he was influenced by mysticism, and East Asian influences can be detected throughout his dances. His expressionist style incorporates jazz and avant-garde music, nontraditional dance forms, e.g., acrobatics, and unusual settings. Among his works are his versions of Rite of Spring and Firebird as well as Symphony for a Lonely Man,Mass for the Present Time,Tannhäuser, and Le Flûte enchantée.

See C. Masson, Béjart by Béjart (tr. 1980).

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