Birgit Cullberg

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Birgit Cullberg 1943

Birgit Ragnhild Cullberg ( pronunciation : [ ˌbiɹːgit ˈkɵlːbæɹʝ ], born August 3, 1908 in Nyköping , † September 8, 1999 in Stockholm ) was a Swedish dancer, choreographer and ballet director.

Live and act

Cullberg received her first ballet lessons in Stockholm in 1929 from the Russian Vera Alexandrovna. From 1931 to 1935 she completed a literature degree at Stockholm University. At the same time, Cullberg studied modern dance from 1932 with the Wigman students Jeanna Falk and Gertrude Engelhardt and made her debut that year with her first solo dance. From 1935 to 1939 she studied modern dance with Kurt Jooss at the Dartington Hall School and worked as a dancer and choreographer in his study group. In later years she also studied at Martha Graham's school in New York. In 1939 she returned to Sweden and founded her first dance group, in 1944 a new company, and in 1946 she became co-director of the Swedish Dance Theater founded by Ivo Cramér. In 1949 she founded her third company and trained with a scholarship in London and Paris.

In 1950 she achieved her international breakthrough with the world premiere of her ballet Fröken Julie (based on August Strindberg's drama Fräulein Julie ), with Medea (with Maurice Béjart as Jason) and a choreography for the Royal Swedish Ballet, for which she also performed several choreographies in the following years created. In 1956 she also worked for the Gothenburg Opera House, in 1957 for the Royal Danish Ballet, in 1959 for the Finnish National Ballet , in 1960 and 1961 for the American Ballet Theater . In 1957 her ballet Fräulein Julie was taken over by a German company (Dortmund) for the first time , and in 1965 she choreographed the Bacchanale in Richard Wagner's opera Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival (like Isadora Duncan or Rudolf von Laban before her ). Since 1961 she has also choreographed for Swedish and Norwegian television and became "a pioneer in the field of television dance". In 1967 she founded the Cullberg Ballet, which still exists today . She choreographed a. a. also for the Teatro Regio in Turin (1985), the Venice Ballet (1988) and the Budapest Opera House (1990).

Birgit Cullberg was married to the actor Anders Ek from 1942 to 1949 . She was the mother of the dancer, choreographer and director Mats Ek as well as the dancer Niklas Ek and the actress Malin Ek.

Appreciations and awards

Horace Engdahl coined the saying that Birgit Åkesson and Birgit Cullberg are the "mothers of modern dance in Sweden". In 1961 Cullberg won the Prix d'Italia with her first television ballet The Evil Queen , and in 1970 she received the second prize at the Prix d'Italia for her television ballet Red Wine in Green Glasses . The Stockholm University awarded her an honorary professorship in 1979. She also received the French Commendeur des Arts et Lettres and the Italian Cavaliere Ufficiale .


Primary literature:

  • Birgit Cullberg: Ballets och vi . Gleerup, Malmö 1952.

Secondary literature: monographs

  • Erik Näslund: Birgit Cullberg. PA Norstedt & Söners förlag, Stockholm 1978.
  • Erik Näslund: Birgit Cullberg's “Fröken Julie”: en svensk ballet classics. Stockholm, Univ., Diss., 1995.

Secondary literature: selected articles, encyclopedia entries

  • Horst Koegler , Helmut Günther : Cullberg, Birgit , in: Reclams Ballettlexikon , Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1984, p. 106.
  • Erik Näslund: “Movement has to be motivated.” Birgit Cullberg turns 90. In: Tanzdrama , Magazin. No. 41, H. 2 / June 1998, pp. 20-25.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Erik Näslund: “Movement must be motivated.” Birgit Cullberg turns 90 , in: Tanzdrama , No. 41, June 1998, pp. 20-25, here p. 23.
  2. ^ Frank-Manuel Peter (Ed.): Birgit Åkesson, Postmoderner Tanz aus Schweden. Wienand Verlag, Cologne 1998, p. 8.