Carlo Blasis


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(b Naples, 4 Nov. 1795 (some sources 1797); d Cernobbio, 15 Jan. 1878)

Italian dancer, choreographer and codifier of classical technique who was arguably the most important ballet teacher of the 19th century. He studied with Dauberval in Bordeaux (where he learned the theories of Noverre) and Gardel in Paris. His first ballets were made for productions of operas by Gluck, Sacchini, and Mozart. From 1818 he danced at La Scala, Milan, and from 1826 to 1830 he was a soloist and choreographer at the King's Theatre in London; he also appeared in St Petersburg. In 1837, forced by injury to quit the stage, he became director of the school attached to La Scala, where his work helped to spread the influence of the Italian school, particularly to Russia. He was a guest teacher in several European cities, including Warsaw, Lisbon, and Paris. His students included Fanny Cerrito. His prime importance, though, is as a writer. His books on academic dance, its theories, and the codification of its technique, are among the most important published and the classical vocabulary still owes much to his work. Author of Traité élémentaire, théoretique et pratique de l'art de la danse (Milan, 1820, repr. New York, 1944, as An Elementary Treatise upon the Theory and Practice of the Art of Dancing); The Code of Terpsichore (London, 1828); Notes Upon Dancing (London, 1847); L'uomo fisico, intellettuale e morale (Milan, 1857); and Dances in General, Ballet Celebrities, and National Dances (Moscow, 1864).

Subjects: Dance.

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