Died: Nov. 22, 2007 (Lausanne, Switzerland)
Best Known as: popular French ballet choreographer
Béjart was a French ballet choreographer whose performances were very popular in Europe. His company, called Ballet of the 20th Century, was based in Brussels from 1960 to 1987. He studied at the Marseilles Opera Ballet school, with teachers in Paris and London. He performed at Mona Inglesby’s International Ballet in London, the Cullbert Ballet, and the Royal Swedish Ballet. He freelanced in choreography during the 1940s before starting his own company. His ballet creations were eclectic with avant-garde music and often had erotic subtexts. He was considered innovative and daring during the 1960s and 1970s. Béjart was especially popular in France, but he made global tours to destinations including Iran and Asia. His ballet “Rite of Spring” won him an invitation to become the resident troupe of the Brussels’s royal opera theater in 1960.