Erik Aschengreen, an eminent dance critic and scholar who did a lot to indicate the worldwide significance and historical past of Danish ballet whereas additionally exploring features of French, American and different dance traditions, died on Sept. 9 in Copenhagen. He was 88.
His husband, Per Morsing, stated the trigger was an aortic rupture. Mr. Aschengreen had been handled for amyloidosis, a uncommon illness that may result in organ failure.
No ballet firm stays frozen in amber. Yet the Royal Danish Ballet, from the late Nineteenth century to only after World War II, stored an exceptionally giant a part of its Nineteenth-century repertory and traditions going, although they have been scarcely identified outdoors Denmark.
Having been preserved, Danish dance quickly gained acclaim throughout Europe and within the United States from the late Forties on. It was throughout this era that Mr. Aschengreen, then in his teenagers, started to find ballet.
Over the following many years he constructed up experience and authority. While Danish dancers like Erik Bruhn, Peter Martins, Ib Andersen and Nikolaj Hübbe loved lengthy careers in America, bringing renown to the Danish custom, and whereas the Royal Danish Ballet introduced its treasured Nineteenth-century Romantic and neo-Classical ballets by August Bournonville to American cities, the bigger historic context of Danish ballet turned higher understood internationally thanks specifically to the work of Mr. Aschengreen, who wrote and lectured in Denmark, the United States and elsewhere.
The 1979, 1992, and 2005 festivals of Bournonville’s ballets flooded the Royal Danish Theater in Copenhagen with dance authorities from many international locations. Mr. Aschengreen did a lot to welcome, entertain and enlighten them as a spokesman at many shows by the Danish firm.
In “The Boy From Kyiv,” her forthcoming biography of the Ukrainian American choreographer Alexei Ratmansky (who’s artist in residence on the New York City Ballet), Marina Harss relates how Mr. Ratmansky, when he was a dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet within the late Nineties, made his technique to Mr. Aschengreen’s Copenhagen flat seeking movies and books on Danish ballet historical past; Mr. Aschengreen, she says, was delighted to assist him.
From 1964 to 2005 Mr. Aschengreen was the dance critic for the Copenhagen-based Berlingske Tidende (now identified merely as Berlingske), one of many world’s oldest newspapers nonetheless in print. From 1969 to 2000 he was a professor on the University of Copenhagen, the place in 1989 he based the self-discipline of dance aesthetics and historical past.
He additionally taught ballet historical past on the Royal Danish Ballet School from 1971 to 1993 and dance historical past on the Danish School of Contemporary Dance from its founding in 1990. He traveled extensively to see worldwide dance and to research dance schooling.
With the English-language publication of his monograph “The Beautiful Danger” in 1974, Mr. Aschengreen turned internationally appreciated for his new imaginative and prescient of Bournonville’s ballets within the context of European Romanticism. That 12 months he started to lecture and train throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. In 1986 he confirmed that his experience was not confined to Danish ballet however prolonged to France as effectively with the guide “Jean Cocteau and the Dance,” concerning the poet’s hyperlinks to bounce from 1909 till his loss of life in 1963.
In 1998, Mr. Aschengreen introduced out “The Dance Is Light: The Royal Danish Ballet, 1948-1998.” (The title refers to an outdated track quoted within the Bournonville ballet “A Folk Tale,” from 1854.) The guide is broadly regarded in Denmark as his most necessary work.
Ib Andersen, the longtime inventive director of Ballet Arizona in Phoenix, wrote in a WhatsApp message on Thursday that Mr. Aschengreen, whom he recalled seeing typically on tv, had “loved ballet more from a historical point of view than a critic’s point of view.”
Dinna Bjørn, one of many foremost lecturers and stagers of Bournonville’s work, remembered Mr. Aschengreen as her oldest good friend and referred to as his loss of life a loss “for the whole ballet world.”
Erik Aschengreen was born in Frederiksberg, a suburb of Copenhagen, on Aug. 31, 1935, considered one of three youngsters of Carl and Else (Hermansen) Aschengreen. His father traded in seeds. Erik lived together with his mother and father within the household house till they died, and he remained there till he was 65. In addition to Mr. Morsing, he’s survived by his sister, Dorthe Aschengreen, and a niece and a nephew.
Performances on the open-air Pantomime Theater in close by Tivoli Gardens impressed Mr. Aschengreen’s love of ballet, which deepened on his first visits to the Royal Danish Theater when he was 13.
In 2000, Mr. Aschengreen moved to an house in central Copenhagen lined with books and historic lithographs, and begun concentrating totally on writing books.
In 2005, he revealed a biography of the choreography Harald Lander, who directed the Royal Danish Ballet from 1932 to 1951; a guide that mixed autobiography with an introduction to the artwork of ballet, inspecting the classics as he had noticed them over 60 years; a second guide of memoirs; and “Dancing Across the Atlantic” (2014), through which he described the wealthy dance relations between the United States and Denmark between 1900 and 2014.
Though unwell with amyloidosis and present process chemotherapy, Mr. Aschengreen managed to proceed to attend performances, most not too long ago two that had meant essentially the most to him: Bournonville’s “La Sylphide” (1836) and Roland Petit’s “Le Jeune Homme et la Mort” (1946). He additionally entertained guests till the final two weeks of his life and exchanged emails with mates till the day earlier than he died. When loss of life got here, Mr. Morsing was holding his hand.
Source web site: www.nytimes.com