Paul Parish

who taught Pierina Legnani?

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Was Cecchetti one of her teachers? DId they have the same teachers in Milan? DId she do fouette with a direct stab a la seconde, or did she developpe front first and then swing it a la seconde like Ballets Russes-descended dancers do now?

Anybody know?

And while, I'm at it, why did Vaganova decided to do the fouette with the leg gonig straight to the side? Did she ever say?

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Pierina Legnani (September 30, 1863 – November 15, 1930) was taught at the Teatro alla Scala ballet school where Carlo Blasis had been Ballet Master and Director of the ballet school of Teatro alla Scala di Milano from 1837 to 1850 and the first person to codify and publish an analysis of the classic ballet technique in his Traité élémentaire, théorique, et pratique de l’art de la danse (1820).

It was into the revised school method of Blasis that Legnani completed her studies, under the direction of Caterina Beretta herself a pupil of Carlo Blasis.

After she arrived in Saint Petersburg in 1893 Legnani achieved extraordinary success. She recognised however that her high technical achievements were at odds with the Imperial Theatre style and studied with Serge Legat and Christian Johannson to adapt her schooling.

From 1893 to 1901 she was the undisputed star of the Mariinsky Ballet with Petipa creating a significant repertoire around her talents and unlike earlier Italian guests, Legnani was endowed with grace, beauty, and plastique overcoming her short stature and rewarded as Prima Ballerina Assoluta of the Imperial Theatres.

As to your question, "Did she do fouette with a direct stab a la seconde, or did she developpe front first and then swing it a la seconde like Ballets Russes-descended dancers do now?" I have never read of any such exact recording of the performance of choreography of that era.

Is there any such a detail of execution in the Stepanov record?

PS

Cecchetti studied und Giovanni Lepri in Florence an exceptional student of Carlo Blasis who is widely accepted as the most signifcant creator of the Italian school of dance. Cecchetti was to teach at the Imperial Theatre School from 1887 to 1902 and I have so far found no record of him teaching Legnani.

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Another question about Legnani, which pop up in my head from another thread, would involve the mysterious beginnings of the 32 fouettees sequences. All accounts always makes her responsible for it in Petipa's Cinderella-(now sadly lost)-but I was/am always curious to know if that was her own idea or Petipa's, and how it translated later onto P's refurbishing of the SL ballroom act and its PDD.

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There is a charming account of Beretta in Karsavina's memoir, Theatre Street. Karsavina studied with Beretta for two months in the summer of 1904 following an illness. At the end of the period she says "I had undoubtedly improved considerably under her tuition; my jumps wre higher, my 'points' were stronger and my general standard of precision had improved beyond all measure."

She was not the first Mariinsky dancer to study with Beretta; Pavlova and Trefilova had preceded her.

Karsavina clearly found the classes hard and during her first lesson she fainted.

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Another question about Legnani, which pop up in my head from another thread, would involve the mysterious beginnings of the 32 fouettees sequences. All accounts always makes her responsible for it in Petipa's Cinderella-(now sadly lost)-but I was/am always curious to know if that was her own idea or Petipa's, and how it translated later onto P's refurbishing of the SL ballroom act and its PDD.

Konstantin Skalkovsky the eminent dance critic for the Saint Petersburg Gazette reviewing the “Cinderella” premiere in 1893, was to compare the technical ability of Legnani performing 32 fouettes “without travelling an inch,” to the enormous success Emma Bessone had when she had performed 14 fouettes in “The Tulip of Harlem.”

In fact Legnani encored the fouettes at the “Cinderella “premiere but only completed 28.

If anyone wants to link Cecchetti, fouettes and Legnani together, “The Tulip of Harlem” may give you the opportunity (see the Paul Parish post above) as Cecchetti was a co-choreographer of this ballet and it may have given him the opportunity to work with Legnani. Of course this is only a supposition.

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Then there is of course the issue of the Stepanov notations. As the notations were being made, I wonder how involved was Petipa himself in the process, or if what was notated was to be only what he aproved. And correct me if I'm wrong but there is also the fact that some ballets and sequences were notated based on Gorsky's reworkings, so I assume that many steps and combinations didn't have to be produced necessarily by Petipa in order to be notated, as some pre and post Petipa's works are part of the collection,I assume. My point being...the fouettes could had been the work of either Legnani or someone else rather than Petipa.

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