The Bournonville Style

Auguste de Bournonville
 Trained in Copenhagen and Paris
 Directed and choreographed for the Royal
Danish Ballet
 Organized the school
 Wrote a syllabus in 1861, called Etudes
 His style is considered the purest example of 19th
century ballet technique
 Curriculum was based on set classes for each
day of the week (Cecchetti)
The Bournonville Style
• Musicality and Joy of Movement are key elements of his ballets
and style
• Elegance of dancing conveyed through the extensive use of
épaulement, rounded arms and use of head and eyes
• Students at the RDBS
train in the Bournonville
technique once a week
• Today’s presentation
draws from
enchaînements seen in
the Wednesday class
• Pedagogues that
codified the Bournonville
school include: Hans
Beck, Hans Brenaa,
Harald Lander, Flemming
Flindt, Frank Andersen,
Fleming Ruyberg, Kirsten
Ralov, Dinna Bjørn, Vivi
Flindt, Eva Kloborg, Anne
Marie Vessel Schlüter
and Thomas Lund.
Technique at a
glance: Women
• Elegance and grace
• Soft rounded arms and
specific port de bras (a
l’ange, a la lyre, adorè)
• Equality with jumping in
beaten steps and jumps
• Pirouettes were done sur le
coup de pied and on
demi pointe
Technique at a
glance: Men
• Intricate footwork, petit
allegro, batterie
• No pas de deux in the
traditional sense
• Arms in bra bas for most
exercises, requiring
tremendous back and leg
• Lightness and speed in
tours en l’air and jumps
Music for Class
• Scores for the
enchaînements in
the ballet classes
were collected
and partly
composed by
Ludvig Smith
• In 1943, Holger
Nielsen transposed
the original violin
scores into a piano
Many steps had nicknames, named after the dancers that either
loved or hated an exercise (the dark step), the style of the step
(Spanish, Chinese, etc) or the ability to leave the class after that
step was completed (eg. The stepping out step)