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A ballet fit for a princess

ARTS NOTES

March 02, 2003|Lewis Segal

DANISH ballet star Peter Schaufuss says he once asked Princess Diana if she thought that someone would one day choreograph a ballet about her. She answered "No," but obviously the Princess of Wales spoke too soon: On Thursday a two-hour dance drama titled "Diana: The Princess" premiered in Holstebro, a Danish town about 190 miles from Copenhagen, with Schaufuss as choreographer.

Set to music by Edward Elgar, the British band the Cure and two Danish composers, the ballet features roles for dancers impersonating Prince Charles (Diana's onetime husband), Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and other members of Britain's royal family -- as well as Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles' mistress.

However, Schaufuss has said that it is not a biography but a tribute. And British ballerina Zara Deakin, who dances the title role, told the London Evening Standard that the treatment is "tasteful and honest. People go on about monuments for Diana," she said, "but I think she would have been happiest with this."

Now 53, Schaufuss met Diana when he was artistic director of English National Ballet. She eventually became the company's official patron while Schaufuss left England in 1990. However, he says, they maintained contact during the time when he held stormy ballet directorships in Berlin and Copenhagen before forming his own company in Holstebro in 1997 -- the same year that Diana died in a Paris car crash.

He has previously choreographed ballets about the Beatles and Elvis Presley, along with controversial, psychosexual versions of "The Nutcracker," "Swan Lake" and "The Sleeping Beauty."

-- Lewis Segal

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