Maurice Béjart is born in Marseille on January 1, 1927. He begins his 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 resources 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, with support of the critic Jean Laurent. From now on the dancer is doubled as a choreographer.
In 1955, he confirms his thinking outside the box with the choreography of Symphonie pour un homme seul, performed by his company, Les Ballets de l'Etoile. Noticed by Maurice Huisman, the new director of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, in Brussels, he creates a triumphant The Rite of Spring (1959).
In 1960 Maurice Béjart launches, in Brussels, Le Ballet du XXe Siècle, 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, Le Ballet du XXe Siècle becomes the Béjart Ballet Lausanne and the great choreographer settles in the Olympic capital. In 1992, he decides to downsize his company to about thirty dancers to "recapture the essence of the performer" and 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, Ballet for Life, MutationX, La Route de la soie, Le Manteau, Enfant-Roi, La Lumière des eaux and Lumière.
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 passed away in Lausanne on November 22, 2007.
Photo: MauriceBéjart © Marcel Imsand - Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne