Charles Engell France, Baryshnikov's Right-Hand Man at ABT, Dies at 59

Classic Arts News   Charles Engell France, Baryshnikov's Right-Hand Man at ABT, Dies at 59
 
Charles Engell France, who helped Mikhail Baryshnikov run American Ballet Theatre in the 1980s, died on December 25, the New York Times reports. He was 59.

Born in Oklahoma, France studied ballet at the Royal Danish Ballet's school in Copenhagen and at the New Dance Group Studio in New York. In the late 1960s, while a student of French literature at Columbia, he began working for Justin Colin, an ABT trustee. Eventually he went to work in the company's press office; meanwhile he collaborated with Baryshnikov on two books.

When Baryshnikov became artistic director of ABT in 1980, he appointed France his assistant. According to the Times, France was an influential, if sometimes autocratic, figure at the company for the next nine years, a period when Baryshnikov added many new works to its repertoire.

In 1989, ABT's new executive director, Jane Hermann, placed an ailing France on a leave of absence. Baryshnikov, angry at what he saw as violation of his authority, resigned, and France never resumed his post.


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