In the early fifties, in Paris, Maurice Béjart creates choreographies for his first company, the Ballet de l’Etoile. In 1960, he forms the Ballet du XXe Siècle in Brussels. A quarter of a century later, he moves his company to Lausanne, and this is the birth of the Béjart Ballet Lausanne.
Maurice Béjart is born in Marseille on 1 January 1927. He begins his dance career in Vichy in 1946, continues with Janine Charrat, Roland Petit and especially in London, as part of the International Ballet. During a tour in Sweden with the Cullberg Ballet (1949), he discovers the potential of choreographic expressionism. A Swedish film project confronts him for the first time with Stravinsky, but back in Paris, he gathers choreographic experience with compositions by Chopin and the support of the critic Jean Laurent. From now on the dancer is doubled by a choreographer.
In 1955 he confirms his thinking outside the box with the choreography of Symphonie pour un homme seul, performed by his company Ballets de l’Etoile. Noticed by Maurice Huisman, the new director of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, he creates a triumphant Sacre du printemps (1959).
In 1960 Maurice Béjart launches, in Brussels, the Ballet du XXe Siècle (1960), an international company touring around the world, and the number of his creations is steadily increasing: Boléro (1961), Messe pour le temps présent (1967) and L’Oiseau de feu (1970).
In 1987 the Ballet du XXe Siècle becomes the Béjart Ballet Lausanne. The great choreographer sets up in the Olympic capital. In 1992, he decides to downsize his company to about thirty dancers to “recapture the essence of the performer” and, in the same year, he founds the Ecole-Atelier Rudra Béjart. Among the many ballets for this company, we find Le Mandarin merveilleux, King Lear – Prospero, À propos de Shéhérazade, Lumière, MutationX, La Route de la soie, Le Manteau, Enfant-Roi, La Lumière des eaux et Le Presbytère n’a rien perdu de son charme, ni le jardin de son éclat.
As well as directing plays (La Reine verte, Casta Diva, Cinq Nô modernes, A-6-Roc), operas (Salomé, La Traviata and Don Giovanni) and films (Bhakti, Paradoxe sur le comédien…), Maurice Béjart has also published several books (novels, memories, a personal diary and a play). In 2007, on the eve of his eightieth birthday, the choreographer creates La Vie du danseur racontée par Zig et Puce. While working on what will be his last creation, Le Tour du monde en 80 minutes, Maurice Béjart passes away in Lausanne on 22 November 2007.
- Maurice Béjart © Marcel Imsand