Royal Swedish Ballet

The Royal Swedish Opera, as seen from the Stockholm Palace

The Royal Swedish Ballet is one of the oldest ballet companies in Europe. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, King Gustav III founded the ballet in 1773 as a part of his national cultural project in response to the French and Italian dominance in this field; he also founded the Royal Swedish Opera and the Royal Dramatic Theatre. All of these were initially located in the old theatre of Bollhuset. The troupe was founded with the opening of the Royal Swedish Opera, which has served as its home since that time.


In 1773, the cultural professions of acting, opera-singing and ballet-dancing in Sweden were all performed by foreign troupes. The first ballet performance was performed at the Swedish court when the French ballet troupe of Antoine de Beaulieu was hired at the court of Queen Christina in 1638, and the first Public ballet performance were performed by the foreign theatre troupes at the theatre of Bollhuset later the same century. The only exception had been the period of 1737-1753, when the first professional Swedish troupe of actors had performed at Bollhuset; during this period, ballets were performed by the first Swedish dancers in this troupe. The perhaps first ballet performed by professional native Swedish dancers was in the play Den afvundsiuke ("The Envious") by Olof von Dahlin in August 1738. However, no names are known about these first dancers. They were probably educated by Jean Marquard as dancing-master, and one of the dancers were also French, Gabriel Senac. In 1753, however, the first Swedish ballet, theatre and opera at Bollhuset were dissolved.

Nadja Sellrup as Esmeralda in "Ringaren i Notre-Dame" ("The Hunchback of Notre-Dame"), a 2009 ballet at the Royal Swedish Opera.

Gustav III wanted to create and educate native talents in these professions. To accomplish this, he used the same method in the ballet as he was to use with the theatre; by having the first generation of native dancers educated by foreign professionals. When he fired the French theatre-company to create his national-stage in 1773, he kept many of the French dancers of this troupe. Dancers from France, Italy and Belgium, such as Antoine Bournonville, Louis Gallodier, Giovanna Bassi and Julie Alix de la Fay were hired to perform and to educate Swedish students. Most of the first students to the troupe were taken among children to the staff at the royal court and to professional musicians, as were the first students to the theatre and the opera. In the first ballet-troupe in the national stage of 1773, they were very few native talents with former professional experience; one of them was Charlotte Slottsberg, who could be counted as the first native Swedish ballerina known by name. The greatest triumph of the Swedish ballet during the 18th century is considered to be the Ballet performed by Gallodier to the Opera Gustav Adolf och Ebba Brahe (Gustav Adolf and Ebba Brahe) (1786); also the Ballet Fiskarna (The Fishes) by Antoine Bournonville (1789) became a great success.

The Ballet was from the beginning closely linked to the Opera; ballets were a part of the performances of the Opera, and the dancers were also active on the Royal Dramatic Theatre. When the Royal Swedish Opera were closed down between 1806 and 1809–1812, the Ballet was not closed, only moved over to the theatre.

During the 19th century, new ballets were made all the time, and older ones seldom performed; En komisk balett (A comic Ballet) by Louis Deland was given 127 times between 1796 and 1809, followed by La Fille Mal Gardée, given 54 times in 1812-1842. August Bournonville was active as a guest Ballet master 1839, 1847, 1857, 1858 and 1861–1864, and his favorite Swedish ballerinas Charlotta Norberg and Johanna Sundberg educated students in his techniques. The Ballet is considered to have been in a state of decay during the end of the 19th century; after the dismissal of Anders Selinder and Sophie Daguin in 1856, the Ballet was used more as a supplement to the opera and not as an independent artform, and Sigurd Lund, a student of Bournonville, was not independent enough to prevent this. It was not until 1913, that the Ballet returned to a more independent form.

The Kungliga Hovkapellet (Royal Swedish Orchestra), the orchestra of the Royal Swedish Opera, is the performing partner for the Royal Swedish Ballet.

Johannes Öhman is the director of the Royal Swedish Ballet. Birgitta Svendén is the general director of the Royal Swedish Opera. The members of Operans Balettklubb[1] are supporters of the Royal Swedish Ballet.

Ballet Masters

Principal dancers

  • Judith Simon
  • Anna Valev
  • Olof Westring
  • Jan-Erik Wikström


  • Eunsun Jun
  • Irina Laurenova
  • Andrey Leonovitch
  • Nathalie Perriraz
  • Nicole Rhodes
  • Andy Rietschel

  • Jens Rosén
  • Oscar Salomonsson
  • Lykke Håkansson
  • Joakim Stephenson
  • Hugo Therkelson
  • Gina Tse
  • Jenny Westring
  • Johannes Öhman (on leave)

Stockholm 59° North

Stockholm 59° North is a chamber company of soloist dancers from the Royal Swedish Ballet.

Artistic Director is Mia Hjelte

See also


  1. Operans Balettklubb
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