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Daily routine of ballerinas in the 2nd half of XIX century

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I am doing some research on the life of ballerinas in the 2nd half of XIX century in Western Europe and Russia, and I would like to learn about their daily routine in terms of preparation for a performance.

The main questions are:

1. Did ballet dancers take a daily ballet class? How long was the class? Did it occur in the morning?

2. What kind of attire did they wear for the class?

3. Were there any women teachers at that time?

4. Did principal ballerinas take class with the rest of the company?

5. How long did the schooling of a young dancer last before becoming a professional dancer?

Could anyone recommend a good resource which provides answers to these types of questions?

Many thanks,


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a related thread about ballet life in and around the turn of the 20th c. can be found here:\


your specific area might be best addressed in Wiley's CENTURY OF RUSSIAN BALLET

and maybe in karsavina's THEATRE STREET

BT is not in the habit of answering specific research questions.

i think there was an english memoir? about a 'ballet girl' from victorian? england but i'm not sure just what it's called, maybe UK members can suggest something about england.

ivor guest's monograph on the ALHAMBRA theatre might also offer some information.

i don't know how much of this area is covered in english-language books on the paris opera, but the catalogue on DEGAS AND THE DANCE has some solid information about ballet in degas's time. (some french BT members might have some book suggestions as well but these might well be in french.)

good luck.

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The book that rg refers to is called "Victorian ballet girl" - it must be very old and only found in antiquarian shops or try your library. I read it ages ago, it is indeed by Ivor Guest and is about Clara Webster who was born 1821. Tragic story, she died very young when her costume caught fire - a fairly common occurance in those days. Hope that helps.

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