Pierina Legnani


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(b Milan, 30 Sept. 1868; d Milan, 15 Nov. 1930)

Italian ballerina. She studied with Beretta in Milan and in 1890 appeared as prima ballerina at London's Alhambra Theatre in Casati's ballet Salandra. In 1892 she was appointed prima ballerina at La Scala then moved to St Petersburg in 1893 where she was prima ballerina at the Mariinsky Theatre until 1901. Here she created numerous roles for Petipa including the title role of Cinderella (1893), Odette-Odile in Swan Lake (1895), and the title roles in Raymonda (1898) and Camargo (1901). A dancer of unusual technical brilliance and refinement, her most celebrated feat was executing 32 continuous fouetté turns, which she first performed in Aladdin at the Alhambra in 1892. She was appointed prima ballerina assoluta at the Mariinsky (the only official holder of this title apart from Kshessinska) and spurred Russian dancers to emulate her virtuosity. After retiring from the stage she lived in Italy and served on the examining board of La Scala Ballet School until four months before her death.

Subjects: Dance.

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