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Danish Dancer Nini Theilade died Tuesday, 102 years old

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Nini Theilade, a Danish dancer, born in Indonesia in 1915 by a Danish father and a mother of German, French, Polish and Indian origin, has died peacefully on February 13, 102 years old.

The family returned from Indonesia to Denmark when she was still a child, as her mother, herself a dancer, wished to develop Nini's obvious dance talent. However, Nini was rejected by the Royal Danish School of Ballet, but her ambitious mother didn't give up and brought her to Paris where she came to study with Lubov Egorova. Nini's natural talent and slightly exotic beauty made the way for her to the stage at a very early age. She was only 14 when she started touring all the big cities in Europe with the company of Carina Ari. In 1931, now 16 years old,  she was engaged by Max Reinhardt who used her in various productions. Most spectacular was her appearance as fairy in his Hollywood production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1935. Back in Europe she toured from 1938-40 with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo where Massine created many of his choreographies directly for her. 

During WW2 she stranded in Brazil, where she also met her first husband, but in 1950 she returned to Denmark, invited by Harald Lander to make a couple of choreographies for the RDB, where he was ballet master at the time. After 1965 she stayed in Denmark more permantly, establishing herself as a teacher and choreographer, and in 1969 she founded her own dance company and ballet academy on Thurø, a small island south of Funen. After a period of financial problems, she closed the academy and in 1968 and went to Lyon, where she was invited to open a new ballet academy, which came to bear her name: "Academi de ballet Nini Theilade".

1990 she returned to Denmark where she stayed till her recent death. She remained a major source of inspiration for young dancers, actors and gymnastics both as a teacher and as a choreographer. She split her time between being a ballet pedagogue at the Stately Theatre School in Odense on Funen and being a beloved drama and movement teacher for young people at the famous Schools of Gymnastics in Oure (the official English name of the school is "Oure Sport & Performing Art"), also on Funen. Here she taught dance lessons till she was 98, still going strong, and only stopping because of a nasty fall in 2013.

She has been portrayed lovinglyby Lone Falster in a documentary called "Nini" in 2009, and she was interviewed for a book by Lone Kühlmann in 2006 with the title "Dansen var det hele værd" - "The dance was worth it all" (my translation").

I found a short obituary in English here: Obituary in English by Rhett Bartlett

Edited by Anne
I wished to add the official name of the school in Oure
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In the Danish  newspaper "Jyllands-Posten" an obituary was brought today. Unfortunately you cannot read the obituary if you are not a subscriber, but i link to it anyway, as you can see an absolutely lovely picture of the grand old lady with one of her colleagues at the school "Oure Sport & Performing Art", where she taught till she was 98: Obituary of Nini Theilade

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Thank you for sharing the story of Nini Theilade--what an extraordinary life!

Max Reinhardt's Midsummer Night's Dream is just an astonishing film--Theilade must have worked with Nijinska then, too, who did the choreography for it.

May she rest in peace.

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