Janine Charrat

(b. 1924)

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(b Grenoble, 24 Jul. 1924)

French dancer, choreographer, and ballet director. She studied with Jeanne Ronsay, Egorova, and Volinine and made her debut in the film La Mort du cygne in 1937, playing the part of a ‘petit rat’ at the Paris Opera. By the age of 14 she was giving recitals in Paris, dancing solos created, precociously, by herself, which showcased her poetic qualities as a stage performer. From 1941 to 1944 she danced with Petit in a series of recitals which led to the creation of the Ballets des Champs-Elysées and in 1945 she choreographed a highly successful setting of Stravinsky's Jeu de cartes for the company. Still in her early twenties, Charrat was commissioned to make ballets for several other companies, including Concerto No. 3 (mus. Prokofiev) for the Opéra Comique in 1947; 'Adame miroir (mus. Milhaud) for Petit's Ballets de Paris in 1948; and La Femme et son ombre for the same company in 1949. Abraxas (mus. Werner Egk) created for the Berlin Municipal Opera in 1949, remains her most successful ballet. She founded her own company in 1951 (Les Ballets Janine Charrat, later renamed Ballet de France) and produced two successful works, Le Massacre des Amazones (mus. Y. Semenoff) and Les Algues (mus. Guy Bernard, 1953), in which she herself danced the role of the mad heroine. She also choreographed ballets for La Scala, Milan, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Monnaie, the Marquis de Cuevas company, the Geneva Ballet, the Vienna State Opera Ballet, and the Paris Opera. In 1961 she co-choreographed Les 4 Fils Aymon with Béjart in Brussels. During television filming of Les Algues in 1961 she was badly burned when her ballet skirt was set on fire by a lighted candelabra. After almost a year of recovery, she returned to the stage. From 1962 to 1964 she led the company at the Grand Theatre in Geneva and created several works there. In 1970 she opened a school in Paris. She was dance director at the Centre Pompidou (1980–9). She was awarded the Légion d'honneur in 1973.

Subjects: Dance.

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