“I’ve said to my dancers that you have a theatre, a floor, an audience, a lifelong job, and a pension, too. But you have a responsibility, too, towards that floor, that space, that audience. You have a responsibility to fill it not just with adequate dancing, but with the very fibers of your lives.”

Can you guess who pronounced these words? I will give you three hints:

  • the person we are talking about was born and raised in Denmark,

  • this person was known for breathtaking interpretations of roles in various ballets, among them the ballet Giselle, and

  • this person was considered a true Danseur Noble.

We are clearly talking about Erik Bruhn: one of the most admirable dancers of all times.

Bruhn was considered to have everything that the ideal ballet dancer needed: from a strong, long and lean physique to a perfect and solid technique acquired through rigorous and precise training. Bruhn did not stop his intense training once he became a professional dancer, nor when he was clearly recognised as one of the best.

Just like any other highly influential artists, what made Bruhn a complete dancer, that could enchant the audience, was not his strong classical technique, nor his beautifully shaped body. He understood very early in his career that technique was essential, but not enough. He brought meaning and depth to each and every role he danced, dedicating time to the personal research of the characters under all their aspects. This made Bruhn’s performances authentic and captivating.

Interesting videos to watch to go deeper

Erik Bruhn passed away on April, 1 1986 and in order to celebrate his memory and learn more about this wonderful artist, here is a compilation of the best and most interesting videos about Erik Bruhn. Performance videos are also included as I believe the best way to learn more about a dancer is to watch them dance.

A great documentary narrated by Erik himself that shares different aspects of his life. A true pearl of wisdom, rich in depth and meaningfulness. Bruhn’s mastery of the English language is also outstanding.

An interesting excerpt of Bruhn impersonating character roles and discussing how his label as a “dancer noble” did not prevent him from experimenting with another side of himself as a human being and as a dancer.

A short but enjoyable video of Bruhn giving a company class. Notice how demanding he is with the dancer while still allowing for humour.

One of the best Giselle performances I have ever seen, featuring Erik Bruhn as Albrecht and Carla Fracci as Giselle.

Erik Bruhn and Carla Fracci dancing La Sylphide pas de deux from the second act. Notice how real the pantomime seems.

Victoria Tennant remembering Erik Bruhn and sharing her own working experience when he was director at Canada’s National Ballet.