Other Notable Deaths


November 24, 2007

MAURICE BEJART, 80 Choreographer

Maurice Bejart -- who sought to bring ballet to younger audiences with his provocative choreography, stunning critics with his avant-garde dances, died Thursday morning at Lausanne's University Hospital, said Emmanuel de Bourgknecht, administrator of the Bejart Ballet Lausanne. Mr. Bejart had been hospitalized with heart and kidney problems.

Mr. Bejart, born in Marseille, France, set new standards for ballet in a career that spanned five decades. His signature work was Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, which in 1959 was his first production with Belgium's Monnaie Theater. Clad in sleek, shiny tights, the dancers created an erotic aura with impulsive, natural movements that would become a standard for his interpretations.

His Ballet of the 20th Century troupe, formed a year later, became hugely successful on the back of his provocative choreography, helping to raise annual attendance at the Brussels theater from 40,000 to 250,000. He later left for Lausanne after clashing with the management at the Monnaie, which he accused of concentrating on opera at the expense of ballet.

Mr. Bejart made his debut as a dancer in his hometown in 1954.

A product of classical ballet, Mr. Bejart constantly blurred the lines between modern and classical in works such as Ravel's Bolero, Beethoven's Ode to Joy and Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet.

FERNANDO FERNAN GOMEZ, 86 Actor, director, writer

Fernando Fernan Gomez, a prolific actor, director and writer who was one of Spain's most beloved and respected entertainers, died Wednesday of cardio-respiratory failure at La Paz Hospital, the hospital said in a statement.

Known for his booming voice, stern and imposing physical presence and sometimes irascible temper, Mr. Fernan Gomez appeared in more than 200 films, directed another 20, and wrote novels, plays and poetry.

He was also a member of the Spanish Royal Academy, the official watchdog of the Spanish language.

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