Royal Danish Ballet

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Royal Danish Ballet

Royal Danish Ballet, one of the oldest major ballet companies, established at the opening of Denmark's Royal Theater in Copenhagen in 1748. Its ballet school, which trains the group's dancers, has also operated since the 18th cent. The company was developed over the centuries by three great masters. The first, Vincenzo Galeotti (1733–1816), who brought an international repertoire from Italy and France, led the company from 1775 until his death. One of his works, Amors og Balletmastererns Luner [the whims of Cupid and the ballet master] (1786), is the world's oldest ballet retaining its original choreography. The next great leader was Auguste Bournonville, who directed the company for 51 years (1828–79). The more than 50 ballets he created included many parts intended to show off his own brilliant dancing, and these later became vehicles to establish and display the excellence of Danish male dancing in general. The works of Bournonville remain the backbone of the group and a number of his ballets continue to be performed by today's company. After his death the Danish Ballet declined until 1932, when Harald Lander returned from studying dance in the Soviet Union and the United States to become the company's ballet master (1932–51). He trained many fine dancers, including Erik Bruhn. Lander also choreographed many ballets for the company, adapted others that reflected contemporary trends, and promoted the group's tours abroad. Since the end of World War II the troupe has performed many more works by internationally known choreographers, e.g., Balanchine, Ashton and Cranko, and since the 1960s it has toured widely.

See studies by S. Kragh-Jacobsen (1955 and 1965).

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