Born in Copenhagen in 1936, dancer and choreographer Flemming Flindt is one of dance world’s most distinguished artists. Trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School, Flindt joined the main company at the age of 19, quickly rising to the rank of international star. One of the most courtly and gifted premier danseurs of the 1950s, he was made etoile at the Paris Opera Ballet, starred at the Royal Ballet and the London Festival Ballet, and in 1950 he danced at the celebrations of Grace Kelly’s wedding.
By 1963, his attention had turned to choreography with his highly regarded balletic adaptation of Eugene Ionesco’s “The Lesson,” and in 1966, at the age of 29, Flindt was appointed director of the Royal Danish Ballet, a post he held for twelve years.
Like many of the dancers of the Danish tradition, Flindt himself was as at home interpreting the characters of the 19th century narrative ballets of August Bournonville as he was in contemporary work of Birgit Cullberg and Roland Petit. And during his tenure at the Royal Danish Ballet, he was credited with carefully shepherding the historical heritage of the company while expanding the repertoire to include the work of modern choreographers such as Paul Taylor, Murray Louis and Glen Tetley.
Flindt’s own works, like the great ballets of the classical era, derive their strength from dramatic stories, but his choreography, nevertheless, has always had a modern edge. In “The Jet Set” Spark follows him to San Jose, where he recreates his ballet “Out of Africa” for Ballet San Jose of Silicon Valley, a company for whom he has restaged many of his works.
Based on Isak Dinesen’s novel of the same title, Flindt’s ballet, a shorter version of which he initially created as a gift for Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik of Denmark on their Silver Anniversary, encompasses an even larger theatrical vision than it did in 1992.
Staged in only three and a half weeks, under a highly compressed and grueling rehearsal schedule, “Out of Africa” explores both the psychological as well as the romantic aspects of Dinesen’s life as an ex-patriot in Kenya. Assisted by San Jose ballet master Raymond Rodriguez, who originally danced in the ballet, Flindt expands his original work adding not just new scenes, but lavish costumes, vividly dramatic sets, and a full choir along with expanded music by Danish composer Carl Nielsen.