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Friday, 29 September, 2000, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Queen ballet a hit
Ballet for Life
The ballet features a character inspired by Mercury
Late rock singer Freddie Mercury and the music of his band Queen are celebrated in a new ballet which opened in London with a sell-out first night.

Ballet for Life, created by renowned French choreographer Maurice Béjart opened at Sadler's Wells Theatre on Thursday.

Danced to a soundtrack of Queen's greatest hits including Bohemian Rhapsody, I Want to Break Free, A Kind Of Magic and The Show Must Go On, interspersed with music from Mozart.

Béjart, better known for his avant-garde interpretations of classical works, told the BBC he is also a Queen fan.

"I love Queen's music, I love Freddie Mercury. And it's just like when you make a ballet on Stravinsky and a ballet on Tchaikovsky, I really was in love with that music," he said.

Inspiration

The work draws inspiration from the lives of both Mercury, who died in 1991, and Béjart's former principal dancer Jorge Donn.

Queen drummer Roger Taylor
Queen drummer Roger Taylor initially found the idea 'very bizarre'
Both performers died of Aids at the age of 45.

The costumes were designed by designer Gianni Versace, who was shot dead outside his Miami home in 1997, months after the show recieved its world première in Paris.

Queen's drummer, Roger Taylor, who was at the première with other band-members John Deacon and Brian May, said they didn't know what to make of the idea at first, finding it "very bizarre".

"However when we saw the ballet we were completely converted, and I think it's a terrific piece of work - very moving, very striking, and a very stirring night," he said.

The 15% Mozart and 85% Queen mix may alarm some ballet purists, but comedian and novelist Ben Elton, who was in the audience at the première, dismissed such concerns:

"I hate this kind of apartheid, there's clever stuff and there's not clever stuff. I think Queen are great, great composers, and this choreographer seems to be the bees knees."

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David Sillito reports for BBC News
"It's taken the surviving members of Queen a while to get used to it"
See also:

06 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Queen ballet comes to London
19 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Queen set to reign on
21 May 00 | Entertainment
A kind of magic for Stars winner
19 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Freddie's photo legacy
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