Swedish dancer and choreographer. Born in Härnösand, Sweden, 13 March 1893. Studied at the Royal Theatre School, Stockholm, pupil of Gunhild Rosen, 1902-05; later studied with Mikhail Fokine, Copenhagen, and José Otero, Madrid, 1918-20. Dancer, Royal Theatre, Stockholm, 1905-1918: second soloist, from 1913; after period of independent study and experiments in choreography, leading dancer in recital financed by Rolf de Maré, Paris, 1920, leading to establishment of company: sole choreographer and principal dancer, Ballets Suédois, founded and financed by de Maré, based in Paris and touring widely in Europe and U.S., 1920-25; also appeared in two films directed by René Clair, Entr'acte (1924) and Le Voyage imaginaire (1925); dancer, Théâtre des Champs Élysées, Paris, 1925, also touring in recitals, including North and South America; leading dancer in recital with his own pupils, Paris, 1929. Died in New York, 6 December 1930.
Jean Börlin, a Swedish ballet dancer who studied Bournonville and Italian techniques before training with Mikhail Fokine in Stockholm and Copenhagen, was the principal dancer and choreographer for the Ballets Suédois. In that capacity he collaborated with some of the foremost composers and artists of his time--including Erik Satie, Jean Cocteau, Francis Picabia, Fernand Leger, and Paul Claudel--to create some of the most innovative ballets of the early twentieth century.
Rolf de Maré, the founder of the Ballets Suédois, hired Börlin in 1920 and based his company in Paris. Apart from de Maré, Börlin, and a few dancers from the Stockholm Royal Opera, there was not much else that was Swedish about the Ballets Suédois. Originally de Maré had wanted to use the company as a vehicle for translating Swedish folk themes into modern theatre, but the Ballets Suédois made a name for itself with avant-garde ballets combining the choreography of Jean Börlin with the work of French librettists, composers, and painters.
With its first Paris season in 1920, the Ballets Suédois established itself as the artistic successor to Diaghilev's declining Ballets Russes. Comparisons of Börlin to Vaslav Nijinsky, the principal dancer of the Ballets Russes, were inevitable. In fact, Paul Claudel conceived L'Homme et son désir in 1917 as a vehicle for Nijinsky, who, it turned out, could not perform the role because of his disintegrating mental health. In 1921, after seeing Jean Börlin and the Ballets Suédois, Claudel and his collaborators offered the ballet to the new company. Whether or not Börlin's dancing was like Nijinsky's, his choreography was certainly similar to Fokine's.
Börlin's choreography adhered closely to the "five principles" Fokine had formulated for the Ballets Russes: movement corresponded to subject matter, period, and musical style; dance and gesture advanced dramatic action; dancers' entire bodies were used; the corps de ballet was integral to the ballet rather than just ornamental; and the dance was combined with other arts. Börlin's movement was described by some critics as very much like pantomime and not very "dancey", reflecting his emphasis on expression rather than a traditional dance vocabulary. His use of popular dances such as the shimmy and the foxtrot in Within The Quota, to music by Cole Porter, is an example of movement corresponding to subject matter, period, and musical style.
After staging their most ambitious piece, Relâche, in 1924, de Maré and Börlin decided to disband the Ballets Suédois. Börlin gave recitals in South America and two more concerts in Paris before he died in New York at the age of 37.
Source : Gale Group’s website