Harald Lander was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1905. He entered the Royal Danish Ballet School in 1913 and became a member of the Royal Danish Ballet in 1923, making his debut as soloist in the part of Don Alvaro in August Bournonville’s Far from Denmark. He left Denmark in 1927 to study in New York with Michel Fokine. At the same time he studied Russian dance with Ivan Tarasoff and Spanish dance with Juan de Baucaire and the Cansino brothers.
He returned to the Royal Danish Ballet in 1929 and appeared as a soloist and leading character dancer, performing in Bournonville’s ballets and in his own.
The first one was Gaucho. It was a great success and he was appointed Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Ballet in 1931 where he stayed until 1951. In 1952 Harald Lander was appointed Ballet Master of the Paris Opera Ballet and Director of the Ballet School until 1963. From 1963 he was guest choreographer at La Scala in Milan, American Ballet Theater, London Festival Ballet, Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, Royal Danish Ballet, Netherlands National Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, State Ballets of Cologne, Hamburg, Vienna and Munich, and Paris Opera Ballet.
As Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Ballet Harald Lander created over 30 ballets. Among those, Bolero (1934), Seven Deadly Sins (1936), The Little Mermaid (1936), La Valse (1940), L’Apprenti Sorcier (1940), Fool`s Paradise(1942), Fest-Polonaise pas de deux (1942), Quarrtsiluni (1942), Spring (1942), Quasi una Fantasia (1945), and Etudes (1948).
Harald Lander staged and preserved very carefully the Bournonville repertoire: Naples, La Sylphide, Le Conservatoire, Far from Denmark, La Ventana, Folk’s Tale, The Kermesse in Bruges, King’s Volunteers on Amager, Flower Festival in Genzano, Pas de Trois Cousines. The restauration of Bournonville’s ballets together with his own ballets, and with his teaching the company became the cornerstone of the Royal Danish Ballet and made it world famous. Harald Lander also restaged Fokine’s ballets: Les Sylphides, Petrouchka, Prince Igor and Le spectre de la Rose. He created several ballets for the Paris Opera Ballet including Printemps. Vienne, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, The Flowers from Les Indes Galantes, Cupid’s Whims after Galeotti etc. At the same time he staged others of his ballets, La Valse, Quarrtsiluni and Etudes. Harald Lander made special ballets for TV in Denmark, France and Finland: Fest-Polonaise pas de deux, Grand Pas Dvořak, Christian II, Pas de Trois Cousines after Bournonville.
Harald Lander was married to Margot Lander, Toni Lander and Lise Lander.
He died in Copenhagen in 1971.
- Gaucho, music by Emil Reesen (first performance 1931).
- Diana, music by Francis Poulenc (first performance 1933).
- Zaporogerne or Russian folk, music by Emil Reesen (first performance 1933).
- Football, music by Francis Poulenc (first performance 1933).
- Russian Dance, music by Knudåge Riisager (first performance 1934).
- Bolero, music by Maurice Ravel (first performance 1935).
- The Little Mermaid, music by Fini Valdemar Henriques (first performance 1936).
- The Seven Deadly Sins, music by Kurt Weill (first performance 1936).
- Thorvaldsen, music by Johan Hye-Knudsen (first performance 1938).
- La Valse, music by Maurice Ravel (first performance 1939).
- The Sorcerer's Apprentice, music by Paul Dukas (first performance 1940).
- Quarrtsiluni, music by Knudåge Riisager (first performance 1942).
- Fest-Polonaise, music by Johan Svendsen (first performance 1942).
- Quasi una Fantasia, music by Ludwig van Beethoven (first performance 1944).
- Rebild, music by Walther Schroeder (first performance 1945).
- Bird Phoenix, music by Knudåge Riisager (first performance 1946).
- Pageant of Kjeld Abell, music by Knudåge Riisager (first performance 1948).
- Études, music by Carl Czerny, piano studies arranged for orchestra by Knudåge Riisager (first performance 1948).
- Printemps à Vienne, music by Franz Schubert (first performance 1954).
- Concerto aux étoiles, music by Béla Bartók (first performance 1956).
- Les Victoires de l'Amour, music by Jean-Baptiste Lully, arranged for orchestra by Knudåge Riisager (first performance 1956).