Else Højgaard

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Else Højgaard

Else Hojgaard.jpg

Else Højgaard performs in Stravinsky's Firebird
at the Royal Danish Theatre in 1928.
BornElse Andreasen
(1906-04-18)18 April 1906
Bornholm, Denmark
Died 11 July 1979(1979-07-11) (aged 73)
Bornholm, Denmark
Years active 19281972

Else Højgaard (18 April 190611 July 1979) was a Danish ballerina and an actress of stage and screen. Noted for a fiery temperament and edgy intensity, [1] [2] Højgaard premiered as a solo ballerina for George Balanchine in 1931 and was the primary dancer for Harald Lander until 1942. Højgaard later went on to a long career as a dramatic actress, performing and teaching at the Royal Danish Theatre. She performed in radio and television, and played supporting roles in several films including the dark drama Café Paradis (1950). Højgaard was awarded a knighthood in the Order of the Dannebrog in 1961 and promoted to Knight 1st Class in 1971. [3]

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

George Balanchine Georgian choreographer, dancer and ballet master

George Balanchine was one of the most influential 20th century choreographers. Styled as the father of American ballet, he co-founded the New York City Ballet and remained its Artistic Director for more than 35 years.

Harald Alfred Bernhardt Stevnsborg Lander was a Danish dancer, choreographer and artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet.


Ballet career

Else Højgaard (née Andreasen) was born on 18 April 1906 on Bornholm, Denmark, the daughter of a civil attorney. At the age of 12, Højgaard became a student at the Royal Danish Theatre ballet school in Copenhagen and graduated in 1929. She debuted in the role of Amelie in the 1928 production of Drømmebilleder and was chosen to perform the solo of Terpsichore in George Balanchine's 1931 staging of Apollon Musagete . Following that performance, Højgaard was a solo ballerina for the Royal Danish Ballet until her retirement from ballet performance in 1942. She was the primary dancer for Harald Lander's revival of the August Bournonville ballets. Known for a fiery temperament, she was noted for her highly dramatic and lyrical performances, lending a modern, anti-romantic presentation to her roles. [4]

Bornholm Danish island

Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea, to the east of the rest of Denmark, south of Sweden, northeast of Germany and north of the westernmost part of Poland. Occupying an area of 588.36 square kilometres (227.17 sq mi), the island had a total population on 1 January 2019 of 39,572.

Royal Danish Theatre theater in Denmark

The Royal Danish Theatre is both the national Danish performing arts institution and a name used to refer to its old purpose-built venue from 1874 located on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. The theatre was founded in 1748, first serving as the theatre of the king, and then as the theatre of the country. The theatre presents opera, the Royal Danish Ballet, classical music concerts, and drama in several locations.

Copenhagen Capital of Denmark

Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. As of July 2018, the city has a population of 777,218. It forms the core of the wider urban area of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen metropolitan area. Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand; another small portion of the city is located on Amager, and is separated from Malmö, Sweden, by the strait of Øresund. The Øresund Bridge connects the two cities by rail and road.

Acting career

While employed as a ballerina, Højgaard also attended the Royal Danish Theatre's drama school from 1932 to 1934 and made her stage debut in Anker Larsen's Son of Zeus (1935). She later performed as the dancer Arabella in the 1938 film musical Champagnegaloppen . However, it wasn't until she left the ballet in 1942 that Højgaard dedicated herself to acting and demonstrated a dramatic stage presence that was "independent", "indestructible", and "almost defiant." [5] Noted performances included the Karen Blixen-like character of Julia in T.S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party and the emotional sister Irene in Søskende (1952). Højgaard performed in both radio and television, and she was an instructor for 16 years at the Royal Danish Theatre until 1967. In 1971, at the age of 65, Højgaard returned to ballet to perform the role of Old Woman in Dødens triumf (The Triumph of Death). In 1961, Højgaard was awarded knighthood in the Order of the Dannebrog and in 1972, she was promoted to Knight of the First Degree. [6]

<i>Champagnegaloppen</i> 1938 film by George Schnéevoigt

Champagnegaloppen is a 1938 Danish musical film directed by George Schnéevoigt. The film based on a musical by Hans Christian Lumbye and play by Paul Holck-Hofmann and stars Svend Methling and Valdemar Møller. It is named after the light classical piece composed by Hans Christian Lumbye, who is a character in the film.

<i>The Cocktail Party</i> play by T. S. Eliot

The Cocktail Party is a play by T. S. Eliot. Elements of the play are based on Alcestis, by the Ancient Greek playwright Euripides. The play was the most popular of Eliot's seven plays in his lifetime, although his 1935 play, Murder in the Cathedral, is better remembered today. It was written while Eliot was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in 1948.

Order of the Dannebrog award in Denmark

The Order of the Dannebrog is a Danish order of chivalry instituted in 1671 by Christian V. Until 1808, membership in the order was limited to fifty members of noble or royal rank who formed a single class known as White Knights to distinguish them from the Blue Knights who were members of the Order of the Elephant. In 1808, the Order was reformed and divided into four classes. The Grand Commander class is reserved to persons of princely origin. It is only awarded to royalty with close family ties with the Danish Royal House. The statute of the Order was amended in 1951 by a Royal Ordinance so that both men and women could be members of the Order.

During a career that spanned four decades, Højgaard performed supporting roles in several films. According to cinema historian Morten Piils, the edgy nervousness and intensity of Højgaard's appearance prevented her from being offered lead roles in films. [7] However, her few roles were often memorable performances, such as that of the judgmental Agnes in the darkly dramatic Danish masterpiece Café Paradis . Her final performance was in the 1972 children's film Mig og Charley . Højgaard died on 11 July 1979 at the age of 73 during a fire at her summer house on Bornholm. [8]

<i>Café Paradis</i> 1950 film by Bodil Ipsen, Lau Lauritzen

Café Paradis is a 1950 Danish film, directed by Bodil Ipsen and Lau Lauritzen Jr., and written by Johannes Allen. The film received the Bodil Award for Best Danish Film, and Ib Schønberg, for what is regarded his finest performance, received the Bodil Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Personal life

Højgaard married the businessman Anders Christian Emil Højgaard on 14 December 1926, however they divorced less than two years later. She married a second time in 1939 with shoe manufacturer Willy Johannes Madsen. Later, she married the violinist and choir director Henrik Reinholdt Sachsenskjold, but that marriage also ended in divorce. Højgaard was the half-sister to Danish stage director Søren Melson and sister-in-law of Gull-Maj Norin. [9]

Gull-Maj Norin actress

Gull-Maj Norin was a Danish actress of stage and film who performed in Denmark and Sweden during the 1930s and 40's. She is best known for her leading role as the suspected serial murderer in the 1944 film noir thriller Melody of Murder.


Year Film Role Other notes
1938 Champagnegaloppen Arabella the Dancer In her first screen role, Højgaard was typecast to play a dancer in a musical about the Danish composer H.C. Lumbye.
1950 Café Paradis AgnesIn this dark film about alcoholism, Højgaard played the harshly judgmental sister.

The film won the Bodil Award for Best Danish Film of 1950.

1956 Ung leg Helle's MotherHøjgaard plays the mother of the lead actress (Ghita Norby in her debut), in a story that blames irresponsible parents

for the wild, delinquency of teenagers.

1964 Tine (The Voice)
1967 The Red Mantle Højgaard's performance was uncredited in this medieval drama. The film was nominated for the Palme D'Or at Cannes.
1967 Resan Woman in Copenhagen
1968 A Sparrow Doing a Crane Dance Queen GunnhildA television production of Jens Christian Hostrup's satire in which the ghost of Queen Gunnhild gives a magical ring

to a scheming tailor and makes everyone blind to his actions.

1970 The Performance Will Be Followed by a Dance Hertha
1975 Nothing But the Truth Mikkelsen
1978 Did Somebody Laugh? Ella
1978 Charly and Me Majbritt's GrandmotherThis children's film received the Bodil Award for the Best Danish Film of 1978.

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  1. Kistrup, Jens Else Højgaard, Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon, 2003
  2. Piils, Morten Else Højgaard Den Danske Filmskuespillere, Gyldendal, (2003)
  3. ( Kistrup 2003 )
  4. ( Kistrup 2003 )
  5. ( Kistrup 2003 )
  6. ( Kistrup 2003 )
  7. ( Piils 2003 )
  8. DFDB, Else Højgaard Den Danske Film Database, retrieved on 2008-09-27.
  9. ( DFDB 2008 )