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- Marie Taglioni Charms Russia
- Marie Taglioni's arrival in
Russia in 1837 was impatiently awaited by the press and the public.
A special brochure called The Biography of Marie Taglioni was
distributed in St. Petersburg, and the Literary Supplement to
the gazette Russian Veteran published a biographical article
about her. For her first appearance in her showcase ballet La
Sylphide at the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theatre, the hall was
filled beyond capacity.
Performances of La Sylphide in
Russia were followed by a spectrum of works set on her, anew.
These were the ballets La Fille du Danube, L'Ombre, L'Ecuneur
des Mers and Gerta-the Queen of the Elfrides.
Marie Taglioni came to St. Petersburg
with her greatest triumphs as a dancer already behind her, including
the success of La Sylphide. Her conquest of Europe was widely
recognized, and she had captured the attention of her great contemporaries
Theophile Gautier, Victor Hugo and others.
Nevertheless, Taglioni's arrival
in St. Petersburg generated uncommon excitement in Russian society.
Her name appeared constantly in the pages of the local press.
Russian dancers of the same period were continually compared
to her. Russian wrote to one another about her in their private
correspondence. After a short time, Russian even began to consider
her their own. Critics referred to «our» Taglioni,
as did the public.
This enthusiasm can be easily explained.
The essence of her art coincided with the mood pervasive in Russian
society during those years. The ballerina reminded the Russian
audience of their romantic spirit, hopes and longings.
«All that romantic poetry,
painting and music could express, Taglioni could express in her
dancing,» wrote well-known Soviet ballet critic Lubov Blok
in the 1930's. Taglioni's Sylphide penetrated and brought to
the forefront the tragic disparity between dreams and reality.
Not only was the ballet capable of expressing a theme - characteristic
of romantic art - but also of materializing the world of dreams,
reincarnated in the image of La Sylphide.
- The art of Taglioni took the
ballet theatre to new heights. «For the first time in history,
the individual dancer had embodied the most advanced ideas of
the art of its time. Taglioni was raised to the rank of the poet,
the composer, the painter...» Blok wrote,
- underscoring how the expressive potential of dance had been
- by Natalia Godzina
- This article first appeared in «Sovietsky
Balet», issue No.2, 1984
- The Tour That Never Was
- During her five Russian seasons
Marie Taglioni did not appear once in Moscow. But negotiations
about her tour of the old capital (Moscow) were vigorously conducted.
Letters written by Marie Taglioni from St. Petersburg tell the
story of the tour to Moscow that never took place.
N.Soloviov, author of the book
on Taglioni published in St. Petersburg in 1912, printed her
letter of September 23, 1838 to the Director of the Moscow Imperial
Theatres, Mikhail Zagoskin. In this letter she writes, «I
was asked, in person, to give several performances in Moscow.
This was done with such warmth and kindness that I could not
refuse. Of course, my desire to see this large and beautiful
city contributed in no small way to my decision to undertake
Setting forth her conditions for
the Moscow tour, Taglioni finished the letter with the following
«I would like very much to
meet you face to face if, of course, you allow me to do this.
This will be done when my desire to see Moscow, a very strong
desire within me, takes me to your capital. Indeed I have found
Russia to be a new homeland. This, coupled with a curiosity about
the city and the Theatre - which has been entrusted into your
enlightened care and about which so much is talked in St. Petersburg
- arouses my wishes to go».
However, these discussions did
not end in success. Four months later, Taglioni sent Zagoskin
a long letter that revealed her business savvy. She refused to
perform in Moscow because she was not given the terms that she
required and expected. The Moscow negotiations, lasting almost
until the end of her stay in Russia, clearly did not produce
the results desired by all who were involved.