Harold Christensen: Mormon Dancer
Harold Christensen was a dancer, dance instructor, and ballet school director. He and his brothers William and Lew are credited with helping establish ballet on the West Coast of the United States. He helped San Francisco Ballet attain national stature. In 1963, the school was awarded a 10-year grant from the Ford Foundation to help strengthen professional ballet in America.
Christensen was born on December 25, 1904, in Brigham City, Utah, and received his first ballet training from his uncle, Peter. His grandfather Lars Christensen taught Danish folk dances and social dances to the youth in Brigham City. Harold spent one year (1925) at West Point, but returned to ballet and studied under his brother William. For a time, he danced with his brothers in vaudeville troupes, but that came to an end in 1935. Harold continued his training in New York with Stefano Mascagno and later George Balanchine. He danced with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Ballet Caravan, the San Francisco Opera Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet before retiring from the stage in 1946. He taught ballet for the rest of his career—until 1975—and was noted for his skill in training male dancers. He established an internationally respected professional training program. With his brothers, he was recognized with the 1973 Dance Magazine Award.
Christensen married Ruby Asquith and they were the parents of three children. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He died on February 20, 1989.