Danish choreographer says ballet about life of Princess Diana a tribute

— Turning the life of Princess Diana into a ballet was not an easy project for Peter Schaufuss.

Schaufuss, a former international ballet star who has created dances based on Elvis Presley and the Beatles, said Friday that it would have been easier to do a ballet about Hans Christian Andersen, the famous Danish author of fairy tales.

"We all believe we know him. We have read about him, and that allows us to add some more to his character," he said.

"With Diana it was a different situation. I knew both persons -- Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales and the person behind that. Knowing her made it more difficult to make the show."

Schaufuss spent a year creating the two-hour work, "Diana -- The Princess," which opens Thursday in Holstebro, 190 miles northwest of Copenhagen.

British ballerina Zara Deakin, a member of Schaufuss' troupe, will play Diana, who was killed in a 1997 car crash in Paris. Sean Ganley, also of Britain, will play Prince Charles.

Other characters include Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and members of Britain's royal family. One dancer will play Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Charles' constant companion.

Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in London in 1981 during a ceremony often described as a fairy-tale wedding. The couple divorced in 1996.

The music is by British composer Edward Elgar, the rock band The Cure and two Danish composers. Schaufuss chose The Cure because they were "big names in the 1980s" when the wedding took place.

The ballet is not a biography, Schaufuss said, it's a tribute.

Schaufuss met Diana in 1986 when he was in charge of the London Festival Ballet, which later became the English National Ballet. Diana eventually became its patron.

"She was a ballet dancer as a child, and as an adult she was a very good amateur dancer," he recalled. "I once asked her, 'Madam, don't you think somebody one day will do a ballet inspired by your life?' She replied, 'No,' and smiled."

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