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


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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific