Maurice Béjart

Maurice Béjart ( English: [beʒaʁ] ; 1 January 1927 – 22 November 2007) was a French-born dancer, choreographer and opera director who ran the Béjart Ballet Lausanne in Switzerland. He was awarded Swiss citizenship posthumously.


Maurice-Jean Berger was born in Marseille , France in 1927, the son of French philosopher Gaston Berger . Fascinated by a recital of Serge Lifar , he decided to devote himself entirely to dance. In South France days, he had studied under Mathilde Kschessinska .

In 1945, he enrolled as a ballet corps at the Opéra de Marseille . From 1946, he had studied under Madam Rousanne (Sarkissian) , Leo Staats , Madam Lyubov Yegorova and Olga Preobrajenska at “Studio Wacker”, etc. in Paris.

In 1948, he was also trained with Janine Charrat , Yvette Chauviré and then with Roland Petit , in addition to Vera Volkova at London. [1] [2] [3]

In 1954, he founded the Ballet de l’Etoile company (dissolved in 1957). In 1960 he founded the Ballet of the 20th Century in Brussels (dissolved in 1987).

Directing dancers at the Béjart Ballet Lausanne , Switzerland, 1988.

In 1987 he moved to Lausanne in Switzerland, where he founded the Béjart Ballet Lausanne , one of the most famous and successful dance companies in the world.

In 1973, with the Ballet of the twentieth century, he premiered “Golestan”, we poem by Sa’di, based on Iranian traditional music. The ballet was commissioned by the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts where it was premiered. The first performance of “Improvisation on Mallarme III” with music by Boulez also took place in 1973. “Farah”, also based on Iranian traditional music was the ballet’s own commission, premiered in Brussels in 1976 and brought to the Shiraz- Perspolis Festival that same year. The 1976 Festival also witnessed the first performance of “Heliogabalus”, based on a poem by Artaud. The Festival’s boss was Farah Pahlavi , the former Empress of Iran, with whom Béjart kept strong ties to the end.

Among his works is a revised version of The Nutcracker , presumably inspired by his own life story, which he staged in 2000. It still uses Tchaikovsky’s original score, but completely scraps the original plot and characters, instead supplying a new story about a boy’s efforts to re-connect with his mother. We also are given a look into the boy’s strange sexual fantasies. The production design is full of erotic images – some of these are more likely to be affected by vaginal openings. [1] One of the characters is Marius Petipa , who becomes Mephisto . Another character is called Felix the Cat, presumably after the famous cartoon character. The production has been issued on DVD .


One of Béjart’s masterpiece works of dance Maurice Ravel’s ” Boléro .” In The New York Times , Jennifer Dunning describes Béjart’s “Bolero” as “probably best known and most popular dance.” [4] Created in 1960 for the Yugoslav ballerina Duška Sifnios , the dance features to a tabletop, surrounded by seated men, who slowly participates in the dance, culminating in a climactic union of the dancers atop the table. [5] Amongst the dancers, who would later perform Béjart’s interpretation of “Bolero,” include Sylvie Guillem from the Paris Opera Ballet, Grazia Galante, Maya Plisetskaya, and Angele Albrecht. In a twist, Jorge Donn also played the role of the principal dancer, becoming the first male to do so. One of Donn’s such performances can be seen in French filmmaker Claude Lelouch’s 1981 musical epic, The Uns and the Others .

Dance schools

Béjart was the founder of several dance schools:

  • the Mudra School in Brussels , 1970-1988;
  • the Mudra Africa School in Dakar , 1977-1985;
  • the Rudra School in Lausanne , 1992-2007.

The Rudra School is still open and is one of the most famous professional dance schools in the world. In 1996, Béjart was directed to a workshop for professionals at the Teatro Comunale di Ferrara and among others was Paolo Franzato, performer and director among the most appreciated in Italy.


During his lifetime, Béjart received many awards and distinctions for his contributions to the arts. [6]

He received the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun .

He received the Belgian Order of the Crown.

In 1974, he won the Erasmus Prize .

In 1994, he was appointed to the Academy of Fine Arts .

In 2003, he was appointed Commander of Arts and Letters.

In 2003, he won the Benois Dance Prize for lifetime achievement.


  • 1975: I was born in Venice with Jorge Donn , Shonah Mirk , Philippe Lison and Barbara


  1. Jump up^ Maurice Béjart
  2. Jump up^ Béjart, Maurice (1927-2007) Archived2012-02-04 at theWayback Machine.
  3. Jump up^ [“Maurice Béjart 1922 ~ 2007” SHINSHOKAN DANCE MAGAZINE, Special Issue Volume XVII No.4 2008, Japan]
  4. Jump up^ Dunning, Jennifer (November 25, 1985). “Dance: Bejart Company Performs ‘Bolero ‘ ” . The New York Times . Retrieved February 20, 2016 .
  5. Jump up^ Anderson, Jack (June 8, 1990). “Review / Ballet; Fashion Merger: Dance, Dollars And a New Scent” . The New York Times . Retrieved February 20, 2016 .
  6. Jump up^ Cruickshank, Judith (November 24, 2007). “Maurice Béjart: Influential Choreographer Who Attracts Huge Audiences to Ballet” . The Independent . Retrieved January 20, 2016 .

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