Ballet Dancers that Undisputably Changed the World of Ballet – Part 2

Ballet dancers that changed the world of ballet – part 2

Last time we discovered only three ballet dancers that have a special place in the ballet world. From Enrico Cecchetti, the magnificent ballerino that invented his own method of teaching ballet, to Marie Sallé, one of the first female ballerinas that demanded feminine clothing, and to Carlotta Grisi, the first Giselle, and the dancer that made the audience cry. Let us continue our exploration of the most talented dancers that changed the world of ballet one step at a time and made classical ballet look more modern.


Marie Camargo, the rival of Marie Sallé

Marie Camargo

It is pitiful that the world of ballet put these two women against each other because they are so alike. 

Marie Camargo was the first ballerina that danced entrechat (a jump in ballet in which the dancer crosses their legs at the lower calf) and cabriole (a jump in which the dancer hops on one leg, while the other leg is thrown upwards), two dance moves that only men were allowed to dance. 

Like her rival, Marie Camargo tried to change the clothes: she was the first person to shorten her skirt (not quite the tutu we know today) and wore slippers on stage, choosing to abandon the heels worn by everyone.

While it is said that she was not beautiful, or tall, she was inventive: she could transform any mistake into something beautiful. No one realised that a dancer forgot to enter the stage because she improvised a dance. And is it really important that she was not the most beautiful dancer?


Marie Taglioni, the ballet dancer that changed everything

Marie Taglioni

Carlotta Grisi played Giselle and made sure that no one could replace her. Marie Taglioni danced in La Sylphide and made sure that no one would forget her name.

La Sylphide is another ballet blanc, about a fairy falling in love with a Scot named James. Carlotta Grisi was lively in her interpretation, but Marie Taglioni had a surreal appearance that made everyone believe she was actually a fairy. Even if her technique was not perfect, but she knew how to dominate the stage and everyone dismissed those little imperfections.

Marie Camargo wore slippers on stage, but Marie Taglioni is the first dancer to dance en pointe on stage, changing forever the world of ballet, and the heels were thus abandoned.

Marie Taglioni was very proud of her dancing skills and wanted that everyone sees her play of legs. But the long skirt prevented this. She shortened her skirt and now everyone could see her legs and the perfection of her dance moves. 

Starting with Marie Taglioni the clothing changed: now we can talk about tutus and pointe shoes. Even if other dancers did this before her, she was the one to popularize this trend.


Lucile Grahn, the lesser-known ballerina from the first pas-de-quatre

Lucile Grahn

A pas-de-deux is a dancing move that requires two dancers, naturally, a pas-de-quatre is a dancing move that requires four dancers. Perrot had this idea of inventing four of the best ballerinas on the same stage. They would start by holding hands and then every ballerina would show her talent. He invented Fanny Cerrito, Carlotta Grisi, Marie Taglioni, and Lucile Grahn, the last one being the most unknown by the audience.

After this performance, her popularity skyrocketed, and she toured Europe. She danced and… she composed her own ballet performances. Before dancing the pas-de-quatre she was a Dutch ballerina that had dreams of dancing in Paris. 

She retired but she never stopped dancing. She became a ballet mistress (she trained, directed, and choreographed), firstly in Leipzig, and then at the Court Opera in Munich.


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