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August Bournonville

August Bournonville, 1805-79, was the most significant person in Danish ballet history and it is his works that make the Royal Danish Ballet interesting in an international context.

August BournonvilleBorn in Copenhagen, where he received his first training, he continued his studies in Paris in the 1820s, developing into an elegant dancer.

From 1830 to 1877 he was, with short intervals, Artistic Director at the Royal Theatre, where he created a corps, soloists and some 50 ballets, a handful of which have been preserved in an unbroken tradition. With La Sylphide (1836) he introduced French Romanticism to Denmark.

Later he turned away from European ballet Romanticism and created his own works based on a harmonious, optimistic philosophy of life in line with Danish Romanticism. He derived his aesthetic ideals from the poet Adam Oehlenschläger and the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.

His main works are Napoli (1842), Konservatoriet (1849, The Conservatoire), Kermessen i Brügge (1851, The Kermesse in Bruges) and Et Folkesagn (1854, A Folk Tale).

Bournonville was a central figure in Danish culture, who also fought to improve the social status and security of his dancers.


Erik Aschengreen, Gyldendal Leksikon

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