August Bournonville

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August Bournonville (21 August 1805 – 30 November 1879) was a Danish ballet master and choreographer. August was the son of Antoine Bournonville, a dancer and choreographer trained under the French choreographer, Jean Georges Noverre, and the nephew of Julie Alix de la Fay, née Bournonville, of the Royal Swedish Ballet.

August was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, where his father had settled. He studied under the Italian choreographer Vincenzo Galeotti at the Royal Danish Ballet, Copenhagen, and in Paris, France, under French dancer Auguste Vestris. He initiated a unique style in ballet known as the Bournonville School.

Following studies in Paris as a young man, August became solo dancer at the Royal Ballet in Copenhagen. From 1830 to 1877 he was choreographer for the Royal Danish Ballet, for which he created more than 50 ballets admired for their exuberance, lightness, and beauty. He created a style which, although influenced from the Paris ballet, is entirely his own. As a choreographer, he created a number of ballets with varied settings that range from Denmark to Italy, Russia to South America. A limited number of these works have survived.

Bournonville's work became known outside Denmark only after WWII. Since 1950, The Royal Ballet has several times made prolonged tours abroad, not the least to the United States, where they have performed his ballets.

Bournonville's best-known ballets are La Sylphide (1836), Napoli (1842), Le Conservatoire (1849), The Kermesse in Bruges (1851) and A Folk Tale (1854).


Early years

Born in Copenhagen August 21, 1805, August Bournonville was the son of the French ballet master, Antoine Bournonville, who had settled in Denmark, and Lovisa Sundberg, a Swede. At the age of eight years, August entered the Royal Ballet School at the Court Theatre in Christiansborg Palace under the tutelage of his father and Vincenzo Galeotti, ballet master and principal choreographer of the Royal Danish Ballet from 1775 to 1816.[1]

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