In this lecture Danish ballet historian and dance journalist Erik Aschengreen focuses on Danish ballet master and choreographer August Bournonville (1805-79): the characteristics of his dance, style, and how the Bournonville tradition has been preserved from generation to generation.Bournonville ballets are distinguished by their positive outlook, in which conflicts are resolved and the lovers are finally united.

August Bournonville raised the Royal Danish Ballet – one of the world’s oldest ballet companies with a repertoire danced in an unbroken tradition since the beginning of the 19th century – to an international level of ability and at the same time gave it a unique national quality, which remains to this day its distinctive characteristic.

Bournonville believed in a world of meaning and order, which is reflected in his ballets. The key word is harmony – in mind and dance. His ballets may appear to be idyllic, but the happy endings are hard won; forces of light and dark battle in Bournonville’s ballets.

The lecture also includes an overview of The Joyce Theater’s program The Royal Danish Ballet: Principals and Soloists (Tuesday, January 13 through Sunday, January 18, 2015), with excerpts from the following ballets: La Sylphide (1832), Napoli (1842), The Conservatory (1849), A Folk Tale (1854), The Flower Festival in Genzano (1858), and From Siberia to Moscow (1876).

About Erik Aschengreen

Erik Aschengreen (b. 1935) is a Danish ballet critic, historian, and theorist. He earned his Ph.D. with his thesis Jean Cocteau and the Dance from the University of Copenhagen in 1986. From 1969 to 2000 he was a professor at the University of Copenhagen, where he founded the discipline of dance aesthetics and history in 1989. Between 1964 and 2004, Aschengreen was also the dance critic for Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende. He taught ballet history at the Royal Danish Ballet School from 1971-1993 and, later, at the School of Contemporary Dance, when it was established in 1990.

Over the years, Aschengreen has taught and lectured on Bournonville and the Romantic ballet tradition all over the United States, including the University of Chicago, Jacob’s Pillow, the American Dance Festival in Connecticut, Sarah Lawrence College, Mills College, and the University of California at Riverside and at Irvine. He was guest lecturer at the American Dance Critics’ Annual Meeting in New York (1979), before the First Bournonville Festival in Copenhagen. Aschengreen has also lectured in Canada, Europe, China, and Japan, often in connection with guest performances by the Royal Danish Ballet.

Aschengreen has written a number of books, including The Beautiful Danger: Facets of the Romantic Ballet, published in the U.S. (Dance Perspectives Foundation, 1974) and in Denmark as Farlige Sylfider: Studier i den romantiske ballet i Frankrig og Danmark (Nyt Nordisk Forlag, 1975), and Mester: Historien om Harald Lander (Gyldendal, 2005), which appeared in English in 2009 under the title Harald Lander – His Life and Ballets (Dance Books Ltd.).

In The Dance is On: The Royal Danish Ballet 1948-1998/Der går dans: Den Kongelige Ballet 1948-1998 (Gyldendal, 1998), Aschengreen describes 50 seasons of the Royal Danish Ballet. Seduced by the Ballet/Forført af balletten (Gyldendal, 2011) is both a memoir and an introduction to the art where he examines the ballet classics, as he has watched them over the past 60 years. In fall 2014 Erik Aschengreen published – in Danish and English – Dancing Across the Atlantic, USA – Denmark 1900-2014 (The Royal Danish Theater).



Photo by the American-Scandinavian Foundation

MON, 1-12-2015 – 6:30 pm