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Charles-Louis Didelot

(1767—1837)


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(b Stockholm, 1767; d Kiev, 7 Nov. 1837)

French dancer, choreographer, and teacher. He studied with Louis Frossard and his father at the Royal Theatre in Stockholm and later in Paris with Dauberval, Lany, Deshayes, Noverre, and both G. and A. Vestris. As a student he danced at the Paris Opera in 1783 then in 1786 returned to Stockholm to dance in opera productions where he also created his first choreography. Between 1787 and 1789 he was in London, as leading dancer under Noverre at the King's Theatre, then after dancing with Dauberval in Bordeaux (1789–90) he was appointed leading dancer under Noverre at Paris Opera (from 1791), where he danced with Guimard. In 1796 he moved back to London where he staged his most famous ballet Zephyr and Flora (mus. Bossi) at the King's Theatre on 7 Jul. 1796. Here he introduced dancing from wires, or flying ballet. Other innovations with which he is credited include the wearing of flesh-coloured tights and simplified costumes and, in his later ballets, some rudimentary dancing on pointe. Between 1801 and 1811 he was choreographer for the Imperial Ballet in St Petersburg where he reorganized the whole system of teaching, introducing the finest points of French technique as well as insisting on expressive acting. In doing so he established the essential principles of the great St Petersburg style. Between 1811 and 1816 he worked in London and Paris, reviving several of his ballets, then returned to Russia where he continued his reforms. Differences with Emperor Nicholas I led to his official dismissal in 1830, although he actually retired in 1834. He created over 50 ballets in a style heavily influenced by the ballet d'action of Noverre and Dauberval—Pushkin remarked that there was more poetry in his ballets than in the entire French literature of the time. These included Apollo and Daphne (1802), Cupid and Psyche (mus. C. Cavos, 1810), and The Prisoner of the Caucasus (mus. C. Cavos, 1823). He was also in charge of the first Russian production of Dauberval's La Fille mal gardée. His second wife was Rose Colinette, a popular dancer of the time.

Subjects: Dance.


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