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Mel Johnson

Fanny Cerrito

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Has anyone else seen the photos of Fanny Cerrito in the March issue of POINTE MAGAZINE?

I remember seeing photos of Taglioni. She looked as though she were at the end of her dancing days, or maybe retired.

I wonder if Cerrito too is at the end of her performance years in those two photos.

She is certainly different then the romantic image portrayed in the Chalon and Bouvier lithographs.

I would love to see real photos of Elssler and Grahn and Grisi. Does anyone know where these exist?

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I haven't seen these photos, but I've seen several of Cerrito in Ivor Guest's books. I wonder if part of the problem is that it was the very early days of photography -- as is often pointed out, they had to sit very still for hours. Also, they weren't used to seeing themselves -- this was a whole new experience.

The photos of Emma Livry make her look, well, like a dog :mad: She must have been very different in flight.

That's why lithographs are so nice -- glad you got some, Glebb :)

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Those early photographs were usually of a few different types. The earliest was the daguerreotype, which was shot by exposing a silverplated copper sheet coated with chemicals to an image concentrated by the lens of the camera. This is the infamous one that required exposures lasting some minutes, if the day weren't very bright, or the studio skylight dirty.

Somewhat better than these were the ambrotypes and ferrotypes (tintypes) which were made by exposing either a treated glass plate or a black-lacquered sheet of iron to a camera image for about 3-10 seconds. The ambrotype could be then backed with black cloth, and a realistic image could be seen. With the ferrotype, the same process was used, except the black lacquer made any backing unnecessary. Ambros and ferros cost about the same, but the ambros were more delicate. They could also be kept by the photographer on file and used as a negative to make the first paper photographs, the salt-paper, or albumen prints.

One of the problems with early photography is that the chemistry to do the developing had to be very near at hand, because speed in developing these wet-plate photos was essential. Some of those chemicals could smell pretty vile, and could explain the stern expression on a lot of sitters' faces!:mad: That, and "having one's image struck" was considered to be a serious business, so gravitas was important!;)

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I have a signed photograph of Lucille Grahn taken in Munich, I would guess when she was ballet mistress at the court theatre in the 1870's. She is wearing a very grand velvet evening dress, a a generous maount of jewellery and a very elaborate hairstyle, liberally decorated with flowers. She was still a very handsome woman.

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And Grahn survived until 1909! As balletmistress for Richard Wagner at Bayreuth, no less! Hmmm - Venusburg ballet staged by Lucile Grahn - interesting klang effect!

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Alymer, oh my gosh, how amazing!

What a treasure.

I have a "cup of sorrow" from the coronation of Nicholas II, and a book of lithographs of Romantic Ballerinas, and now a framed print of the Grand Pas De Quatre. But what you have is an amazing collector's item! I can only think how intrigued Mr. Joffrey would be by this photo of Lucille Grahn.

Is she very old in the picture? Is she blonde? Does she look sylph like? What is her writing like?

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Sounds as if you have a pretty interesting collection Glebb. What exactly is a 'cup of sorrow'?

I would say that my photograph of Grahn was taken when she was in her fifties - though it's hard to be precise. Her hair is clearly still light in colour - dark blonde perhaps. She has very pretty rounded arms - not fat though. Her torso looks fairly solid although I would judge she still had a small waist, or an excellent corset. I guess she must still have looked pretty good as her dress is cut low over the bust and shoulders and she would probably have covered up a little more otherwise. There's a little fullness under the chin, but that rather strong nose which you can see in the lithograph of her in 'Eoline ou la Dryad', is clearly shown as she is photographed in profile.

Her signature is quite loose and flowing with a pretty curly top to the initial L of Lucille, and the writing quite small.

And in connection with another famous Romantic ballerina, I once saw Elssler's Cachucha costume in an exhibition of Biedermeyer in Vienna, and I couldn't get over how tiny she was.

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Amazing Alymer!

My ballet teacher's studio walls were decorated with a series of Romantic Ballerinas.

The Romantic Ballerinas were more "dream creatures" than real people, to me.

Seeing photographs and costumes makes them real!

My "cup of sorrow" from the coronation of Nicholas II, is a mug, one of thousands, that were produced for the masses who came to Moscow in 1896 to celebrate the coronation of the new Tsar.

In their haste to get one, many people were trampled to death. That is why the enamel with gold leaf mug is named the "cup of sorrow".

I realized the other night that Nicholas Romanov's mother Dagmar (Maria Feodorovna), who was Danish, must have seen Lucille Grahn perform.

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I'm having a wonderful time reading this thread -- what treasures you all have.

Glebb wrote:

"I realized the other night that Nicholas Romanov's mother Dagmar (Maria Feodorovna), who was Danish, must have seen Lucille Grahn perform."

Once when I was in Copenhagen, a friend was showing me things, including an old graveyard, a covered building, really, from the 18th century and earlier, when people were buried above ground and their images were on the coffin. He took me over and introduced me to his great-great-great-whatever grandparents and then said, "They saw Galleotti ballets." Of course they did -- and their likenesses were so real, I just wanted to shake them awake and make them tell me what they were like :mad:

There's a lovely little theater museum in Copenhagen with costumes, make up boxes, things like that. It's in the old court theater, which really wasn't much used after the 18th century (and had been a stable before that). Bournonville used it as a rehearsal studio. The dressing rooms are separated from the stage by only a curtain -- red velvet, but still, a curtain -- and it really brought home to me how intimate it all was back then. When you were backstage, it was like being in someone's house. Going on stage was as simple as walking from the kitchen into the living room, dancing for people whose features you could probably see, the space is so small.

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Thank you for the story of long gone relatives who got to see ballets and ballet dancers that we can only dream of seeing. :mad:

Now added to my wish list after your wonderful description, is a trip back to Denmark to see Mr. Bournonville's rehearsal studio.

PS. I was watching the NYCB/Bournonville video the other day and it had an old film with just a few moments of a Danish ballerina in the first dance from La Sylphide. She was pretty and had curls hanging down from her wreath. Do you know who she is?

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Old as in, probably, turn of the (20th century)? Then it would be Ellen Price de Plane (the model for The Little Mermaid, although, of course, she didn't pose for it).

There is a film called "The Elfeldt Films" taken around 1906 that have two dances from La S, several from Napoli, the reel from Kings Volunteers on Amager, and some opera diverts. Hr. Elgeldt was the royal photographer and had a new camera, and you know how it goes....

The film lay in a drawer in the library for decades. The dancers knew it was there, and maybe somebody even ran it through a projector, but it wasn't until the 1980s (I think) that John Mueller put them together and got someone to add sound. They're in a tiny room, and they're all in their mid-40s -- Hans Beck and Valborg Borchsenius, in addition to de Plane. Also two children in the children's dance from Elverhoj.

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Ellen Price de Plane is pretty darn good even by today's standards!

Ellen Price de Plane was the model for the statue of The Little Mermaid that is in the water? She didn't pose for it?

In a way we have not gone too far from the original topic, Fanny Cerrito. She was the original Ondine, I think.

PS. I love the reel from La Sylphide. Now I learn that there is a reel in another Bournonville ballet. I need to see this rare film.

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Ellen Price de Plane created the title role in Beck's ballet "The Little Mermaid" and apparently that inspired the sculptor. (The statue is naked. Whether there was an actual model and EPdP was more the inspiration, or whether the sculptor had a really good imagination is lost in the tides.)

The reel in "Kings Volunteers" looks like a hornpipe to me, but they call ilt a reel. It's a center man and two side boys (once always danced by princpals) and four women, so it's quite different from La S.

Sorry! Back to La Cerrito who ALWAYS gets short shrift compared to Taglioni, Elssler and Grisi, so she should have her thread!

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There's an 8some reel in Mark Morris's "A Garden" -- pretty simple, but VERY fast -- pas de basques and dos-i-dos, and it's very tricky getting through the middle to the other side....... they're just flying --

it's in the "Courante" section

3 more performances this week at SFB

And again, back to Cerrito.....

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Was Hans Beck's "The Little Mermaid" notated or filmed?

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Alas, poor Fanny. :mad:

Glebb, I don't think so. They revived the livsglaedens dans (translated as "Dance of the Joy of Living" in the 1950s, but that's the last I've heard of it. I don't think it survived Beck's tenure as director.

It's a shame, because, judged by those solos in the third act of Napoli and the dances in Coppelia, Beck was a wonderful choreographer. He didn't think so -- he couldn't structure a ballet the way Bournonville could, he wrote -- but he sure could do steps!

I'm sure Fanny Cerrito would have been a wonderful Little Mermaid. Probably a great Teresina in Napoli, too :)

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Alexandra, will you please, please, please write your next book on the Romantic Ballerinas?

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Glebb, you are very sweet, but I don't know nearly enough to write a book about Romantic ballerinas. Have you read Ivor Guest's books? He even has a biography of Cerrito, I think, but the Romantic Ballet in Paris, and the Romantic Ballet in London are fully of wonderful ballerina stories.

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I have Ivor Guest's "Victorian Ballet Girl", which is about Clara Webster. I'll look for Fanny Cerrito, and I hope there is one about Lucille Grahn.

I still think your book would be interesting to read.

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Glebb, do you have Parmena Miguel's book called "The Ballerinas"? It has bios of the Romantic era ballerinas :mad:

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No. Where do I get it? I hope I can get it in a hurry!

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Unfortunately, I think it's probably out of print. But, the good news is, I found a copy in a second hand book store a couple of years ago. I had a copy from years ago, maybe 70's, but it sort of mysteriously disappeared when it got loaned out, so I was most delighted to find this copy. You might try Amazon, and there is another site that has old books, and it was listed here on the board somewhere, but I have forgotten now what it was called. I might have it bookmarked....will check.

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The websites for rare books are Alibris and Bibilofind, which is part of Amazon. (Links sent to you via IM, since I can't seem to do that here.)

The Balletinas is by Parmenia Migel, published in 1972 by Macmillan Co.

Another book you would like is The Romantic Ballet, from Batsford Colour Books. (B.T. Batsford, LTD) Intro by Sacheverell Sitwell. It is a small book, published in 1948. I also found that in a used book store. It's mostly just the lithographs, with some text. But lots of wonderful pictures of the lithographs.

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I just checked Alibris, and both of the above books are available there, plus several others on the romantic ballet! There were a number of copies of the Migel book available.

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A used but in great shape, first edition copy ofThe Romantic Ballerinas should be in the mail to me at any moment. I look forward to it's arrival. :mad:

Thanks Victoria!

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