Bonnefoux Bounces Back from Heart Surgery. (Presstime News)

By Broili, Susan | Dance Magazine, January 2002 | Go to article overview
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Bonnefoux Bounces Back from Heart Surgery. (Presstime News)


Broili, Susan, Dance Magazine


Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, who underwent quintuple bypass surgery following a heart attack in July, shared his good news: "I feel better than before the surgery. I'm doing great. I feel younger, right now, in fact," said the 58-year-old artistic director of North Carolina Dance Theatre.

When interviewed in October, he was looking forward to making his own version of Romeo and Juliet to the music of Hector Berlioz, which he loves, as well as working with contemporary composers. "I love to work with composers. It's a great satisfaction. It just brings me to a different world," Bonnefoux said. As a dancer with New York City Ballet in the 1970s, he became well-schooled in such collaborations by seeing choreographer George Balanchine work with composer Igor Stravinsky. And he plans to continue expanding his company's repertoire and introducing audiences to the work of such choreographers as Nacho Duato and William Forsythe.

When he had his heart attack, Bonnefoux had been working on his dance, Cinderella, at the Chautauqua Institution, a summer program in upstate New York encompassing the arts, religion, education, and recreation. Complications from surgery extended his hospital stay to five weeks. He returned to work part-time in September.

Dancers, known for their fitness, aren't thought of as candidates for heart problems. And Bonnefoux is no exception. He performed for fourteen seasons with Paris Opera Ballet, where he started dancing professionally at age 14. He gave his last performance at age 37 in 1980 as a principal dancer for New York City Ballet.

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