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Emma Bessone

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Emma Bessone is hardly well documented in the usual English-language ballet history books. The International Encyclopedia of Dance has but one mention on the pages of its 6-vol. length. (This refers to Bessone as a guest artist at London's Alhambra Theater, 1885 - 86 & 1888 - 90.) Wiley notes she was a guest in St. Petersburg in 1887 and from 1890 to 1891.

Her '87 St. Petersburg stint included her playing the leading role, Emma, as it turns out, in the Ivanov/Petipa ballet called "The Haarlem Tulip."

Somewhere, perhaps in a footnote by British dance historian Jane Pritchard, Bessone is credited as having danced a newly interpolated solo of Petipa's into 'Giselle.'

According to Wiley's "Life and Ballets of Lev Ivanov," Bessone was something of a fouette queen until Legnani superceded her in this area: Emma B. was known for her set of 14 such turns;l Pierina L. then came on the scene with her 32.

One passing ref. to Bessone says her triumph in "Tulip" was a grand one unlike her less successful appearances in "Naiad and Fisherman" (her debut role in St. Pete) and in "Giselle" - where she may or may not have been the first ballerina to dance Petipa's Act 1 solo.

Regardless, here then is an uncaptioned photo of Emma Bessone from St. Petersburg, perhaps dating from the 1880s.


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