Harald Lander


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(orig. Alfred Bernhardt Stevnsborg; b Copenhagen, 25 Feb. 1905; d Copenhagen, 14 Sept. 1971)

Danish-French dancer, choreographer, director, and teacher. He studied at the Royal Danish Ballet School under Beck from 1913, joining the company in 1923. Later he studied Russian folk dance in the USSR (1926–7) and then went to the US to study ballet with Fokine, Tarasoff, and Bolm (1927–9). In 1929 he returned to RDB as a solo dancer (principal) and created his first ballet, Gaucho (mus. Ressen), for the company in 1931. Between 1932 and 1951 he was its artistic director and oversaw a period of creative revitalization. He raised technical standards among the dancers, introduced new ballets from Europe, initiated the renaissance of the Bournonville repertoire and himself choreographed about 30 ballets, working with a variety of styles and subject matter. These included Football (mus. Poulenc, 1933), Bolero (mus. Ravel, 1934), The Little Mermaid (mus. Henriques, 1936), The Seven Deadly Sins (mus. Weill, 1936), The Sorcerer's Apprentice (mus. Dukas, 1940), and Étude (Czerny, arr. Riisager, 1948). After a disagreement with the directors of the Royal Theatre he moved to Paris in 1951 to become resident choreographer at the Paris Opera (taking French citizenship in 1956). Here he created Printemps à Vienne (mus. Schubert, 1954) and Concerto aux étoiles (mus. Bartók, 1956) and mounted revivals of Galeotti's The Whims of Cupid and the flowers act from Les Indes galantes. He also re-staged Étude for the company as Études in 1952. He directed the Opera school (1956–7 and 1959–63) and also worked widely abroad staging his own works and mounting the ballets of Galeotti and Bournonville for companies including the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, London Festival Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and La Scala Milan. In 1962 he returned to Copenhagen to choreograph Les Victoires de l'amour (mus. Lully, 1962) and reinstate some of his old works. He was married to the dancers Margot Lander (1932–50), Toni Lander (1950–65), and then to Lise Lander. He was made Knight of the Dannebrog in 1951 and awarded the Medal of Honour of the City of Paris.

Subjects: Dance.

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