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PB: Thursday, 22 November 2007 NEWSLETTER

Maurice BéjartMaurice Béjart in the ACG Art Collection

The sad news for the passing away of Maurice Béjart, the great avant garde choreographer of 20th century ballet, who died aged 80 on 22 November 2007, prompted me, in my capacity as Art Curator of The American College of Greece, to donate to the ACG Art Collection a set of photographs from Béjart's creations in his memory. I was personally introduced to Béjart by Greek music composer Manos Hadjidakis in 1992 in Athens. Subsequently, I took every opportunity to see Béjart's ballets in Athens, London and Paris. The donated set includes 18 prints created by French photographer Thierry Boccon-Gibod (b. 1948) from Béjart's ballets in the 1970s.

Loved by many great dancers for his warmth and emotional empathy, Maurice Béjart brought to ballet a grandiosity and a philosophical intellectuality that attracted the entire artworld. The Telegraph's obituary on Béjart states: "He had a genius for tapping into the popular consciousness, hitching a remarkable choreographic invention to radical abstract music in the 1950s, hippy mysticism in the 1960s, and florid sexuality, popular classical music, high fashion and arena rock in subsequent decades."

Béjart was born Maurice Berger on 1 January 1927 in Marseilles, the son of the philosopher Gaston Berger. He changed his surname in honour of Armande Béjart, Molière's wife. He studied ballet in Marseille, Paris and London, where he was a student of Vera Volkova, Margot Fonteyn's teacher. A short, sturdy dancer with fleet footwork, he joined the International Ballet in London in 1949 and danced for a season, impressing with his Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty. In 1953 he launched a company in Paris starring himself, Les Ballets de l'Etoile, which in 1957 became the Ballet-Théâtre de Paris de Maurice Béjart. A genuine innovator in his way, he choreographed the first ballet made to musique concrète, or noise, Symphonie pour un homme seul, in 1955. He made his world name in Brussels in 1959 with a creation to Stravinsky's Sacre du Printemps for a specially assembled company. Its hordes of atavistic, sexually charged men impressed the Belgians, and they invited him to found the Ballet du XXe siècle in the Théâtre de la Monnaie. There Béjart followed up Sacre with Boléro, a smash hit. Béjart's company performed in Edinburgh Murrayfield Ice Rink in 1962, and regularly played at the Coliseum in the 1970s. In 1970 he founded the Mudra theatre arts school (named for a Hindu hand movement) in parallel with the Ballet du XXe siècle. In 1987, falling out with Brussels, he moved his company to Lausanne, changing the name to Béjart Ballet Lausanne, with a new school, Rudra, which later had its own company, Compagnie M. In 2000 he returned to London with his tribute to Freddie Mercury's Queen, Ballet for Life, and in 2003 with his ballet Mother Teresa. His work appeared only once at Covent Garden, when Sylvie Guillem performed his solo La Luna at a Royal Ballet gala in 1991.

Béjart was exceptionally prolific, producing three or four new ballets a year, for arenas and for theatres. He was always looking for a central figure, and in 1963 Jorge Donn, an exceptionally handsome 17-year-old Argentine, joined the Ballet du XXe siècle, becoming to Béjart what Nijinsky was to Diaghilev - his muse and lover. Béjart's eagerness to glorify individuals, resulted in ballets that featured the following classical dancers: Jorge Donn (Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu, 1971; Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet, Mozart's Magic Flute and Schumann's Dichterliebe among others); Rudolf Nureyev (Songs of a Wayfarer, 1971), Maya Plisetskaya (Isadora, 1976), Vladimir Vasiliev (Petrouchka, 1977) and Mikhail Baryshnikov (Piano Bar, 1997); Sylvie Guillem (Boléro, 1985; La Luna, 1991; Sissi, 1992; Racine Cubique, 1997).

Classical music was a great inspiration for Béjart, and his favourite composer was Wagner; a string of Wagner ballets in the 1960s were capped in 1990 by Ring um den Ring at the Berlin Opera Ballet. Other favourite composers were Mahler (Songs of a Wayfarer and Ce que l'Amour me Dit) and Pierre Boulez (Le Marteau sans Maître and Pli selon Pli), and he worked from popular operas such as Mozart's Magic Flute, Verdi's Traviata and Strauss' Salome.

Béjart wrote two books about himself, Maurice Béjart: Un Instant dans la Vie d'Autrui (1979) and Ballets par Béjart (1979); a novel, Mathilde ou Le Temps Perdu (1963); and two plays, La Reine Verte (1963) and La Tentation de Saint-Antoine (1967). He was elected to the Académie Française in 1994, and among his awards were the Erasmus Prize and the Japanese Medal of the Order of the Rising Sun.

Megakles Rogakos

BoGi1968nuit../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1968nuit La Nuit Obscure (The Dark Night) 1968
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1970MB01../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1970MB01 Maurice Béjart #1: Jorge Donn ca. 1970
silver print on paper (17x23)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1970MB02../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1970MB02 Maurice Béjart #2 ca. 1970
silver print on paper (17x23)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1970MB03../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1970MB03 Maurice Béjart #3 ca. 1970
silver print on paper (17x23)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1970MB04../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1970MB04 Maurice Béjart #4 ca. 1970
silver print on paper (17x23)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1970MB05../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1970MB05 Maurice Béjart #5 ca. 1970
silver print on paper (17x23)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1970MB06../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1970MB06 Maurice Béjart #6 ca. 1970
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd01../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd01 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #01 1971
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd02../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd02 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #02 1971
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd03../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd03 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #03 1971
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd04../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd04 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #04 1971
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd05../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd05 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #05 1971
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd06../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd06 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #06 1971
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd07../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd07 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #07 1971
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd08../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd08 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #08 1971
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd09../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd09 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #09 1971
silver print on paper (23x17)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd10../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd10 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #10 1971
silver print on paper (17x23)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007
BoGi1971cd11../../../ACG-COLLECTION/ARTISTS/B/BoGi/BoGi1971cd11 Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu (Nijinsky, Clown of God) #11 1971
silver print on paper (16x23)

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos in loving memory of Maurice Béjart - 2007

INFORMATION: Megakles Rogakos, The American College of Greece - ACG Art
6 Gravias Street, Agia Paraskevi, Athens, GR 15342, Greece, T: +30-210-6009800/1456, E: info@ACGart.gr

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