Michaël Denard

(b. 1944)

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(b Dresden, 5 Nov. 1944)

French dancer. He did not begin serious training until the age of 17 when he studied with Golovine, Franchetti, and others. He made his debut at Capitole de Toulouse in 1963, then went on to dance with many companies including those of Lorca, Massine, and Pierre Lacotte until joining Paris Opera Ballet in 1966. He was appointed premier danseur in 1969 and étoile in 1971. His technical elegance, expressive stage presence, and adroit partnering equipped him both for the classics and also for the 20th-century repertoire. He created the role of Iskander in Lifar's 1969 revival of Istar and leading roles in Petit's Shéhérazade (1974) and Symphonie fantastique (1975). He was also admired by Béjart who created lead roles for him in Comme la Princesse Salome est belle ce soir and Oiseau de feu (both 1970) in which he was able to express his full dramatic range. He also appeared in many Balanchine ballets and in Cunningham's Un jour ou deux (1973) and his interest in new work was also given an outlet in his many appearances with the Opera's Groupe de Recherche Chorégraphique. He guested with many other companies including American Ballet Theatre (where between 1972 and 1975 he was Gregory's frequent partner) and with Ballet of the 20th Century. After retiring from the Opera in 1989 he turned increasingly to acting, for example taking the role of the narrator in Béjart's Ring um den Ring (1989) but also performing character dance roles, for example Widow Simone in Paris Opera's La Fille mal gardée (2007). He was also artistic director of the Berlin Staatsoper Ballet (1992–6).

Subjects: Dance.

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