Erik Bruhn | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Erik Bruhn

Erik Belton Evers Bruhn

 Erik Belton Evers Bruhn, ballet dancer, choreographer, artistic director (born at Copenhagen, Denmark 3 Oct 1928; died at Toronto 1 Apr 1986). After WWII he danced for the Royal Danish Ballet Co and moved to England to join the Metropolitan Ballet. There he met and danced with Celia FRANCA, who invited him to Canada soon after the founding of the NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA. As a dancer Bruhn quickly earned renown as one of the greatest "danseurs nobles" of his time, excelling not only in the classics but also in dramatic roles (eg, Jean in Birgit Cullberg's Miss Julie) with numerous ballet companies across the world, his closest associations being with American Ballet Theatre, The National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Swedish Ballet. Bruhn's many awards included the Nijinsky Prize in 1963 and the Diplôme d'honneur of the Canadian Conference of the Arts in 1974.

After staging La Sylphide for the National Ballet of Canada in 1964, Bruhn forged a continuing association with the company (and the NATIONAL BALLET SCHOOL) as guest artist, choreographer, teacher, resident producer and (from 1983) artistic director, in which capacity he commissioned numerous new works not only by established ballet choreographers (Glen Tetley) but also works by contemporary Canadians in the field of modern dance (Robert DESROSIERS, David EARLE, Danny GROSSMAN). Bruhn's own works for the company, including the controversial psychological Swan Lake and an ebullient Coppélia based on Danish tradition, became mainstays of the repertoire, and his impeccable classical style, dramatic intelligence and insightful coaching influenced numerous Canadian dancers.

His estate endowed the Erik Bruhn International Ballet Competition for young dancers for the National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre, the Royal Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet as a special legacy to the companies he most admired.

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