Petrus Bosman

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Choreographer, dancer and teacher Petrus Bosman, who died on July 19, was the first soloist to be accepted into the Royal Ballet without previously attending its prestigious school.

Trained by Dulcie Howes in his native Capetown, South Africa, in 1959, he began his 18-year association with the RB. He advanced through the ranks to attain the status of principal dancer, partnering Merle Park in Les Rendezvous, played Kastchei in The Firebird and danced in The Sleeping Beauty. Noted for his classical roles in Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker and Les Sylphides, he also created witty characters such as Widow Simone in La Fille Mal Gardee and an Ugly Sister, opposite Ashton, in Cinderella.

During his years in London, Bosman produced a series of charity galas sponsored by members of the Royal Family. These presented Margot Fonteyn, Rudolph Nureyev, Merle Park, Antoinette Sibley, Frederick Ashton and others. Because of these contributions to charity, Bosman was honoured by Queen Elizabeth at a luncheon in Buckingham Palace.

When he retired as a performer, he first taught with Rosella Hightower at her school in Cannes, France. He directed the Jeune Ballet de France and completed foreign tours with them to Australia, Singapore, China, Korea and Switzerland.

In 1977 he moved to the United States to join the artistic staff of the Maryland Ballet. While there, he conceived and masterminded the creation of Equus, the Ballet, which was a great success. Sadly, the Maryland Ballet had to cease operations due to a devastating fire. He then served as entrepreneur and director of public relations for the Cultural Arts Program in Baltimore, Maryland.

His duties included bringing opera stars and musicians to appear in Baltimore. These included three sold-out performances by the Dance Theatre of Harlem at the Lyric Theatre.

As a freelance choreographer and repetiteur, Bosman mounted works for a variety of American groups, including Lake Charles Civic Ballet Company (for whom he staged the full-length Coppelia), Pittsburgh Ballet (Swan Lake), Pennsylvania Ballet (Coppelia), Richmond Ballet and Virginia Ballet Theatre (Les Patineurs), Milwaukee Ballet (Les Rendezvous), as well as works of his own.

Bosman had been the artistic director of the Virginia School of the Arts for 17 years until his retirement at the end of 2006, when he was given the title of artistic director emeritus. His artistic flair and strong pedagogic abilities touched thousands of lives throughout his career as a teacher. Many students of the Virginia School of the Arts went on to strong and fulfilling professional lives.

Still working as a guest teacher with the Jordan Academy in Indianapolis, Bosman suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 80 years old.

Valerie West