Obituarties: Henning Kromstam

Henning Kronstam was a pillar of the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen; handsome, romantic and poetic.

In his youth he shone in lyric roles, and as he matured he developed an acting technique that equipped him for a large range of character parts, so that his career as a dancer spanned several decades, in which he appeared in many diverse roles.

Born in Copenhagen in 1934, he studied in the Royal Danish Ballet School, where he was coached by the principal choreographer, Harold Lander. While still a student he danced with the company, which he joined in 1952, and was appointed soloist in 1956. Kronstam was considered a supreme exponent of the Bournonville style, but he felt the Russian teacher Vera Volkova, who came to the Danish company from the Royal Ballet, helped him to expand his range and equip him to interpret international repertoire.

One of Kronstam's most poetic and moving renderings was as James in Bournonville's La Sylphide, which he danced with Kirsten Simone. They danced many leading roles together, becoming a celebrated partnership in such ballets as Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. A highlight in his career was the opportunity to create in Copenhagen Romeo in Frederick Ashton's ballet of Romeo and Juliet (1955), which became one of Ashton's masterpieces.

Kronstam was able to adapt with ease to Balanchine's neoclassic style, and gave fine renderings of Apollon Musagette, the poet in Night Shadow, Symphony in C and The Four Temperaments. In modern works he was equally at home in Birget Cullberg's Moon Reindeer, Miss Julie and Medea.

In Roland Petit's ballets he portrayed a remarkable Cyrano de Bergerac and in Carmen a bravura toreador; but perhaps one of his outstanding interpretations was Iago in Jose Limon's Moor's Pavane.

Kronstam toured extensively with his company and was an international guest artist at Covent Garden in 1959-60, with the Grand Ballet de Marquis de Ceuves in Paris in 1961 and Chicago Opera Ballet 1966. He was a man totally immersed in the artistic life of the Royal Danish Ballet.

Towards the end of his dancing career (1978-95), Kronstam became the company's artistic director. During this time he sought to preserve the classical repertoire, while remaining open to the trends of the contemporary scene. In later years he was an invaluable asset to the school and company as teacher, repetiteur and coach.

John Gregory

Henning Kronstam, dancer, director: born Copenhagen 29 June 1934; died Copenhagen 28 May 1995.

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