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Bruhn, Erik (1928-1986)  
page: 1  2  

In 1963, Bruhn began to experience severe stomach pain that repeated medical examinations failed to explain. Attributing the problem to psychosomatic causes, he decided to retire in late 1971 to reduce the stress in his life. Even after retirement, however, the pains continued and grew so critical that in 1973 he underwent emergency surgery that revealed a perforated ulcer.

In 1974, restored to health at age 46, Bruhn returned to dancing, but not as a regal Prince. In a production of Giselle featuring ex-lover Nureyev in Bruhn's former signature role of Albrecht, Bruhn scored an astounding success as Madge, the evil witch.

This triumph signaled the start of the second phase of Bruhn's dancing career. His versatility and acting skill enabled him to make a graceful transition from dancing Prince Ideal to performing vividly realized character parts such as Dr. Coppelius in Coppélia (1975, choreographed by Bruhn after the 1884 Petipa original, with a score by Leo Délibes), The Moor in The Moor's Pavane (1949, choreographed by José Limón, with a score by Henry Purcell), and the title role in Rasputin--The Holy Devil (1978, choreographed by James Clouser, with a score by St. Elmo's Fire Band).

The dancer's later triumphs brought renewed recognition of his uniqueness in ballet: his ability to combine flawless technique, intense character study, and total commitment to create stage performances that remained indelible to audiences.

Bruhn was appointed Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada in 1983, a position that he fulfilled admirably. By this time he had cemented a stable and fulfilling relationship with dancer and choreographer Constantin Patsalas, while Nureyev, his great but impossible love, remained a close friend.

Bruhn died of lung cancer in Toronto on April 1, 1986.

John McFarland

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Aschengreen, Erik. "Erik Bruhn." International Encyclopedia of Dance. Selma Jeanne Cohen, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 2:2-5.

Bland, Alexander, and John Percival. Men Dancing: Performers and Performances. New York: Macmillan, 1984.

Como, William. "The Dancer's Dancer: A Tribute to Erik Bruhn." Dance Magazine 55.5 (May 1981): 36-47.

Gruen, John. Erik Bruhn: Danseur Noble. New York: Viking Press, 1979.

Maynard, Olga. "Erik Bruhn Talks to Olga Maynard." Dance Magazine 40.1 (January 1966): 22-23.

Palatsky, Eugene. "Bruhn, Bournonville and Ballet." Dance Magazine 36.2 (February 1962): 38-42.

_____, and Lillian Moore. Bournonville and Ballet Technique: Studies and Comments on August Bournonville's "Etudes Choreographiques." London: A. & C. Black, 1961.

Pasborg, Lennart, director. Erik Bruhn--I Am the Same, Only More. Copenhagen: Steen Herdel, 2000.

Solway, Diane. Nureyev: His Life. New York: William Morrow, 1998.

Stuart, Otis. Perpetual Motion: The Public and Private Lives of Rudolf Nureyev. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.


    Citation Information
    Author: McFarland, John  
    Entry Title: Bruhn, Erik  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated October 14, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
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    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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