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Fanny Elssler

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I recently began corresponding with a distant family member regarding our joint ancestors. She shared this document with me that was written by Emily Virginia Semple. Mrs. Semple was born in 1829 and wrote this account of her childhood when she was 63 years old.

"From my grandmother's we took boat again and went down to Mobile to visit Uncle Robert D. James,

who spent his winters in Mobile and his summers in Clarke County. My childish recollection of Mobile has always been to me as a lovely dream, about orange blossums, white jasmines, music and dancing.

I was allowed to go to the theatre to see "Fanny Elssler" dance. The exquisite grace of the movement of body and limb entranced me. To attain such perfection I thought I would be delighted to spend my whole life in dancing. The thought was innocent too and my mother was of the same mind. She let me go to the dancing school the following year to Mr. Robinson in an old two-storied wooden building in Montgomery where Gassenheimer's store now stands."

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What a wonderful discovery! :) It sounds llike Elssler may have had some of the same effect that Pavlova did in America later on. And I wonder what kind of dancing was done at Mr. Robinson's "dancing school" and whether Elssler's dramatic and flashier style of dancing had any influence on the curriculum.

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What a wonderful piece of information, thank you so much Mary Lynn, for sharing it with us!

I bet that Elssler did the "Cachucha" dance - that is the dance she was so famous for and when you see old lithographs of her she is very often in that costume. Elssler "was" the Cachucha, much in the way that Anna Pavlova "was" The Dying Swan". By the way, I have seen the actual costume, it is in a museum in Eisenach, the old Esterhazy property, just outside Vienna. It is beautiful, pink satin covered with black lace.

The Cachucha dance became a sort of hit parade thing in those days, just everybody had to do it. It was even done in drag at the Stockholm Opera. Just imagine that, in those days...

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