Obituary: Paolo Bortoluzzi

Paolo Bortoluzzi, dancer, dance director and choreographer; born Genoa 17 May 1938; member and principal dancer, Bejart's Ballet of the Twentieth Century 1960-72; guest artist and principal dancer, Dusseldorf Opera House, 1966-84, Director, 1984-90; guest artist, American Ballet Theater 1972-81; Director of Ballet, La Scala, Milan 1981-84; Director of Ballet, Grand Theatre, Bordeaux 1990-93; married Jaleh Kerendi (one sone, one daughter); died Brussels 16 October 1993.

MORE than most arts, dance suffers from the corruption of war. It is not only the absence of male dancers in the armed forces and the death of physical talent. Rather, it is the deflection of a generation into other priorities and values. It is the destruction of the bodies and minds upon which dance relies. During the 1950s, male dancing in Britain still showed the effects of this destruction. Dance in Europe suffered more profoundly from a generation wiped out, the destruction of theatres and training centres and pervasive moral confusion, especially in France.

Not until the early 1960s could one say a post-war generation had recouped this European loss. The Netherlands, Germany and Italy especially led a dance renaissance. Among the dancers who epitomised this new beginning was Paolo Bortoluzzi. At the Nervi Festival and with Milorad Miskovitch's Ballets des Etoiles in 1960, then with Maurice Bejart's Ballet of the Twentieth Century Bortoluzzi caught the eye as a new-style classical dancer appropriate to a new age.

Born in Genoa in 1938, trained during the war years by Ugo dell'Ara and later by Nora Kiss, Victor Gsovsky and Asaf Messerer - teachers particularly responsible for Europe's dance revival - Bortoluzzi made his debut in 1956 with dell'Ara's Italian Ballet Company. He was a soloist for Massine at Nervi in 1960 and became a principal dancer soon after joining Bejart. Here was a union of talents made for each other. If Bortoluzzi represented a new male brilliance in European classical dance, Bejart represented a new direction in European choreographic appeal during the Sixties and early Seventies, especially winning a new young

audience.

Possessed of remarkable strength and stamina, heavy in build but elegant, illuminating technical command with subtle humour and animal grace, Bortoluzzi was a dancer of star quality. Bejart was the perfect choreographer for his body, which lacked classical proportions but possessed a theatrical radiance which held the eye. Nomos Alpha (1969) especially projected the radiance. It is a solo to music by the Franco-Greek composer Iannis Xenakis, a dance of nearly half an hour demanding enormous technical ability and dramatic range. Bortoluzzi accepted and built upon such challenges from Bejart. Bejart, after all, is a choreographer who leaves much to his dancers not in the final definition of what his ballets are about but in creating a cult of the dancer, especially the male dancer.

Bortoluzzi exemplified this cult in role after role. He matched Nureyev as partner in Mahler's Song of the Wayfarer and was a memorable creator in Bejart's Bolero, Ninth Symphony, Mass for the Present Times, Baudelaire and other works. He was restless too for other challenges. In 1966 he became a principal dancer for Erich Walter at the Dusseldorf Opera House, commuting between there and Brussels to fulfil his duties. He appeared at La Scala, Milan, directed briefly in Rome, and was director at Dusseldorf from 1984 to 1990, after Walter's death. In almost all these appointments he added to the repertory through his own choreography. Leaving Bejart in 1972, he joined American Ballet Theatre as guest artist until 1981, appearing in Antony Tudor's Pillar of Fire among other roles, as well as appearing with other companies around the world. In 1973, he opened a ballet school in Turin with his dancer wife Jaleh Kerendi and became ballet director of the Grand Theatre, Bordeaux, in 1990, an historical home of the European classical tradition.

It is as a representative of this tradition, a dancer in Europe and of Europe, that Paolo Bortoluzzi will be remembered.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power