Willam Christensen


Willam Christensen

Willam Farr Christensen[1] (August 27, 1902 – October 14, 2001)[2] was an American ballet dancer, choreographer and founder of the San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is known for bringing the complete version of the Russian ballet The Nutcracker to the United States, as well as staging the first American performances of Swan Lake and Coppélia. Christensen's Nutcracker was first staged in 1944 in San Francisco, where the ballet remains an annual tradition, though the production now staged there is not necessarily the Christensen version. Christensen is often credited with helping to rejuvenate American dance.

Christensen left the San Francisco Ballet in the care of his brother, Harold, to help choreograph a stage production at the University of Utah in the summer of 1948. While there, he was asked to stay on and help the University create a department of ballet. He agreed, and spent the remainder of his life working in Utah and the Intermountain West. The University of Utah was the first accredited University to have a ballet department in the U.S. While in Utah, Christensen also founded Ballet West. Author Debra H. Sowell wrote that Willam, Harold, and Lew Christensen are the closest thing the United States has to a European-style "ballet dynasty". Christensen was raised in Brigham City, Utah and was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Notes

  1. ^ Was born as Christian William Christensen, until his mother changed his name to William Farr Christensen, to include her maiden name. As a professional dancer in San Francisco, Christensen dropped the second "i" in his name to become Willam, which he thought fit better with the European art form of ballet. (Sowell 1998, p. 25)
  2. ^ Birth date as found in: (Sowell 1998, p. 25)

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Works cited

Sowell, Debra Hickenlooper (1998). The Christensen Brothers: An American Dance Epic. Routledge. ISBN 9057550296. http://books.google.com/books?id=MdQrhlP9oyQC. 


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  • Christensen (surname) — Christensen Danish pronunciation: [ˈkʁɛstn̩sn̩], is a Danish (and Norwegian) patronymic surname, literally meaning son of Christen, a sideform of Christian. The spelling variant Kristensen has identical pronunciation. Christensen is the… …   Wikipedia

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  • Christensen, Willam — ▪ 2002 William Farr Christensen        American ballet company director (b. Aug. 27, 1902, Brigham City, Utah d. Oct. 14, 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah), began dancing at a time when men could not expect to have a career in ballet in the U.S. and,… …   Universalium

  • Christensen, Harold — ▪ American dancer born Dec. 25, 1904, Brigham City, Utah, U.S. died Feb. 20, 1989, San Anselmo, Calif.       American dancer and teacher who, with his brothers, Willam and Lew, was instrumental in establishing ballet in the western United States …   Universalium

  • Christensen, Lew — ▪ American dancer born May 6, 1909, Brigham City, Utah, U.S died Oct. 9, 1984, Burlingame, Calif.       American dancer, teacher, and choreographer whose work with the San Francisco Ballet Company helped establish ballet in the western United… …   Universalium

  • Octet (Christensen) — Octet is a ballet made on New York City Ballet by Willam Christensen to Stravinsky s Octet for Wind Instruments (1922 1923). The premiere took place December 2, 1958, at the City Center of Music and Drama. Original cast Barbara Walczak Edward… …   Wikipedia

  • Mose Christensen — Moses Mose Christensen (February 12, 1871 – October 30, 1920)[1] was an American musician, and founder and conductor of the Oregon Symphony (then known as the Portland Symphony Orchestra). Biography Mose was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. His… …   Wikipedia

  • Lew Christensen — (1909 1989) was a ballet dancer, choreographer and director for many companies. He was largely associated with George Balanchine in addition to The San Francisco Ballet, which he directed from 1952 – 1984. Other companies Christensen was a part… …   Wikipedia


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