Börlin, Jean (1893–1930) By Batson, Charles R.
As principal choreographer and dancer for the 1920s avant-garde troupe Les Ballets Suédois (Swedish Ballet), Jean Börlin contributed greatly to the modernist cauldron that was interwar Paris. Founded by the wealthy Swedish arts patron Rolf de Maré in 1920, the Ballets Suédois expanded upon the model of avant-garde collaborative dance theater established by Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes a decade earlier. In the five years until their disbanding in 1925, the Swedes rivaled the better-known Russian company for artistic creativity with such signal works as the 1921 Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel (The Newlyweds of the Eiffel Tower), the 1923 La Création du monde (The Creation of the World), and the 1924 Relâche (Theatre Closed). With twenty-three original choreographies, some 900 performances, and international tours throughout Europe and the United States, Börlin and his company played a significant role in the development and propagation of innovative modernist work, which grew from the interplay among the visual and performing arts. In collaboration with such artists as Jean Cocteau, Darius Milhaud, and Fernand Léger, Börlin helped change the face and forms of dance theater.