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Avant-Garde Choreographer Dies in Switzerland


French choreographer Maurice Bejart has died in a Swiss hospital at the age of 80.

A spokesman for his ballet company said Bejart died Thursday after being in and out of the hospital with heart and kidney problems.

Bejart was born in Marseilles, France in 1927 as Maurice Berger, later changing his name. Bejart began his career as a dancer but gained fame as an avant-garde choreographer in the 1950s, mixing classical and modern styles. One of his most noted successes was a 1959 production of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. That production was followed by Bolero, Firebird, and many others.

Bejart founded the Ballet of the 20th Century company in Belgium in 1960. He moved the company to Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1987 and was still working with it when he died.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.