the Ballet
the History

Romantic Era

The Romantic age more or less began with the staging of Giselle, ou Les Wilis at the Paris Opera in 1841, with music composed by Adolphe Adam, who worked closely with the ballet masters, Coralli and Jules Perrot, (1810-1892). The role of Giselle was played by a new ballerina from Italy, Carlotta Grisi, (1819-1899).

With the reasonably new skill of dancing en pointe improving, the ladies ruled the Romantic era, with very few men making a mark on ballet during this time. Some of the men who did make a mark were Jules Perrot, who choreographed the ballet Pas de Quatre, Arthur Saint Léon, (1821-1870), who not only was an excellent dancer but also was an excellent violinist, and Lucien Petipa, (1815-1898), whose skills as a virtuoso partner were well sought after.

In Russia and Denmark, however, men advanced alongside women, as the ballet in those countries was still supported by the court of the royalty. The Dane who made one of the biggest marks on ballet was Auguste Bournonville. After training in Denmark and Paris, then dancing with the ballet of the Paris Opera, Bournonville returned to Denmark. Once there he produced his own version of La Sylphide in 1836, with new choreography and new music and sixteen year old Lucille Grahn as the sylph.

During the Romantic era, the Russians got on the "ballet bandwagon" in a big way. And like the French had centuries before they imported much of the talent. The Russians, however, imported dancers from France, not Italy. Sometimes homegrown Russian stars also performed for the audiences in St. Petersburg. One of the more notable female dancers was Maria Danilov, who performed very well on pointe, is remembered as "Russia's Taglioni," and died at the age of seventeen in 1810. Giselle was first performed in Russia one year after its premiere in Paris with Elena Andreyanova, (1819-1857), as Giselle. She danced opposite Christian Johnasson, (1817-1903), and Marius Petipa, (Lucien's Brother), two of the largest figures in Russian ballet.

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