Ballet in the nineteenth
century was an ideal medium for the manifestation of the Romantic movement.
Expressionism, lyricism, and inspiration took precedence over Classical
ideals, and interest in the supernatural and the exotic provided subject
matter for some of the most popular ballets of the period, among them La
Sylphide and Giselle.
The Romantic ballet was dominated
by female dancers. Marie Taglioni, whose Parisian debut in 1827 essentially
marks the beginning of the period, was noted for her grace and strength.
Her opposite in physique, style, and temperament was Fanny Elssler; the
two were defined by Theophile Gautier as Christian and pagan dancers.
Arthur Saint-Leon and Jules Perrot were among the most famous of the male
dancers, who functioned as lesser partners and often became choreographers
in addition to appearing on stage. It was Perrot who choreographed
the Pas de Quatre with four stars of the era: Taglioni, Carlotta
Grisi, Fanny Cerrito, and Lucile Grahn.
Shortly after the middle of
the century the Romantic Ballet began to decline as the music hall and
other more popular forms of entertainment gained audience attention.
But ballet audiences today applaud the technical achievements which had
their origins in the nineteenth century, and in the words of dance historian
Ivor Guest, the ballets handed down to the present added poetic dimension
and new aesthetic foundation to the art of the dance.
The Delarue Collection offers
not only vignettes of this extraordinary time of artistry and grace, but
also a glimpse of the entire period portrayed as well.