Marie Taglioni

Marie Taglioni

Marie Taglioni (April 23, 1804April 24, 1884) was a famous Italian ballerina of the Romantic ballet era, a central figure in the history of European dance.


Taglioni was born in Stockholm, Sweden, to the Italian choreographer Filippo Taglioni and the Swedish dancer Sophie Karsten (daughter of the Swedish opera singer Christoffer Christian Karsten and the Polish actress Sophie Stebnowska). Marie rose to fame as a danceuse when her father (and teacher) created the ballet La Sylphide (1832) for her. Designed as a showcase for Marie's talent, it was the first ballet where the ballerina danced en pointe for the full length of the work.

Marie Taglioni was one of the most celebrated ballerinas of the romantic ballet, which was cultivated primarily at Her Majesty's Theatre in London, and at the Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique in Paris. In 1827 Taglioni left the Ballet of Her Majesty's Theatre to take up a three-year contract in St. Petersburg with the Imperial Ballet (known today as the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet). It was in Russia after her last performance in the country (1842) and at the height of the "cult of the ballerina" that a pair of her pointe shoes were sold for two hundred rubles, reportedly to be cooked, served with a sauce and eaten by a group of balletomanes.

Marie retired from performing in 1847; for a time she took up residence at the Ca d'Oro on the Grand Canal in Venice. When the ballet of the Paris Opera was reorganized on stricter, more professional lines, she was its guiding spirit. With the director of the new Conservatoire de danse, Lucien Petipa and Petipa's former pupil the choreographer Louis Mérante she figured on the six-member select jury of the first annual competition for the Corps de ballet, held April 13, 1860.

Later she taught social dance to children and society ladies; she also took a limited number of ballet pupils. Her only choreographic work was Le Papillon (1860) for her student Emma Livry, who is remembered for dying in 1863 when her costume was set alight by a gas lamp (limelight) used for stage lighting. Marie lived much longer, dying in Marseilles in 1884. Johann Strauss II composed the Marie Taglioni Polka (Op. 173) in her honour using music from ballets in which she had appeared.

She also danced in a Pas de Quatre with Carlotta Grisi, Lucille Grahn, and Fanny Cerrito in July 1854.



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