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Final encore for choreographer Maurice Bejart

One of the greats of contemporary dance, French choreographer Maurice Bejart has died, aged 80. A former dancer, Bejart had been in hospital frequently recently, suffering from kidney and heart problems and exhaustion. After dancing for the Royal Swedish Ballet and the Ballet de l'Etoile, he formed his own company - the Ballet of the 20th Century in 1957.

Thirty years on, he and most of his dancers moved to Switzerland where he founded the Bejart Ballet Lausanne, which he was still directing at the time of his death. He said: "I think that people who haven't known love must be frustrated. And I believe that dance - an explosion of body and spirit - is one of the great expressions of love."

His dancers are rehearsing for a new production called Around The World In 80 Minutes, which will premiere in December. "We're all upset," said a spokeswoman for the company. "But the show will go on." Bejart is best known for his eclectic use of classical ballet, modern dance, jazz and even acrobatics.

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