Marie Taglioni

marie-taglioniMarie Taglioni was born April 23, 1804 (Regli), or 1809 (Biographie Universelle), at Stockholm, Sweden. She died April 24, 1884 at Marseille, France.

She was the daughter of Filippo Taglioni, an Italian dancer and ballet master (1777-1871), by his marriage with Marie, the daughter of a Swedish actor named Karsten.

She was taught dancing by her father, himself the son of a dancer, Salvatore Taglioni, and on June 10, 1822, made her debut at Vienna in a ballet of the former, ‘La Reception d’une jeune Nymphe a la cour de Terpsichore.’

In 1824-25, according to her own account to A. D. Vandam, she danced at St. Petersburg, and on her journey to Germany she had to dance before a highwayman (a la Claude Duval), with the ultimate loos to her of nothing more than the rugs on which she had danced.

In 1825 she was engaged at Stuffgart, then at Munich, and on July 23, 1827, she made her debut at the Opera, Paris, in ‘Le Sicilien,’ with extraordinary success, confirmed on August 1 when she danced in the ‘Vestale’ and with her brother in Schneitzhoffer’s ballet ‘Mars et Venus.’

From 1828 to 1837 she was engaged there (dancing in London and Berlin, etc., on leave of absence), and reigned supreme as the greatest dancer of the day, albeit inferior to Fanny Elssler as a pantomimist and in versatility.

She danced there on the production of Rossini’s ‘Guillaume Tell,’ as Zoloe in Auber’s ‘Dieu et la Bayadere,’ as Helene in ‘Robert,’ and in new ballets, Herold’s ‘La Fille Mal Gardee’ and ‘La Belle au Bois Dormant,’ Halevy’s ‘Manon Lescaut,’ Carafa’s ‘Nathalie,’ Schneitzhoffer’s ‘La Sylphide’ (scenario by Nourrit), founded on Nodier’s ‘Trilby’; as Zulma in Labarre’s ‘Revolte au Serail,’ and in 1836 as Fleur des Champs in Adam’s ‘La Fille du Danube.’

The dances in most of these ballets were arranged by her father, then choreograph at the Opera.

She danced in London, both in 1830 and 1831, at the King’s Theatre in Venua’s ballet ‘Flore et Zephyre,’ wherein she made her debut June 3, 1830, also in mutilated versions of ‘Guillaume Tell,’ with her ‘Tyrolienne,’ and the ‘Bayadere’ with her noted ‘Shawl Dance,’ etc. (nearly all the vocal music of the opera being left out.)

In 1832 she was at Convent Garden, and on July 26 for her benefit appeared for the first time as Sylphide in ‘that prettiest of all ballets now faded into the past with that most beautiful and gracious of all dancers.

In 1833, and for several seasons she danced again at the opera, in the Haymarket.

In 1839 she danced in the ‘Gitana’ on the night of Mario’s debut in ‘Lucrezia.’

In 1840 she danced in ‘L’Ombre,’ both that and the ‘Gitana’ being originally produced at St. Petersburg where she was engaged after Paris.

In 1840 she danced in Paris for a few nights and again made a farewell visit, four years later, between which she danced at Milan.

In 1845 she danced at Her Majesty’s in the celebrated ‘pas de Quatre’ with Carlotta Grisi, Cerito, and Lusile Grahn (died 1907), in 1846 with Certio and Grahn in ‘Le Jugement de Paris,’ and for that last time in 1847, soon after which she retired.

Wherever she danced she was acclaimed the greatest dancer of her time, being remarkable for the aerial grace of her movements, the embodiment of poetry in motion.

She was noted for the decency of her poses and gestures, points whereon her father always laid particular stress.

Besides Thackeray and Chorley other writers such as Balzac, Feydeau, Arsene Housaye, Fitzgerald, in his Letters to Fany Kemble, etc. have all in some shape or other recorded the charm of her movements.

Alfred Chalon executed sketches of her in five of her parts, bound up with verses by F. W. R. Bayley (London, 1831).

In the print room of the British Museum are also engravings of her after Bouvier and others.

In 1832 she married Count Gilbert des Voisins (died in 1863), by whom she had a son, Gilbert, and a daughter Marie, who married Prince Troubetzkoi. The marriage was unfortunate and they soon separated, and if Vandam is to be credited, her husband did not recognize her when he came across her at the Duc de Morny’s house.

On her retirement, she lived for some time in Italy.

In 1860 she was the choreograph of Offenbach’s ballet ‘Le Papillon’ on its production at the Paris Opera, being interested in her protégée Emma Livry, a dancer of great promise at the time, who soon after burned to death during a performance of ‘La Muette.’

In 1871, after the death of her father, owing to the loss of her fortune, she settled in London as a teacher of dancing and deportment.

In 1874, she was a guest at the Mansion House at a banquet given to Representatives of Literature and Art.

Later she lived with her son at Marseilles, and died there on or about April 24, 1884.

Her brother, Paul, born 1808, was also a noted dancer. He and his wife danced with Taglioni on the production in England of the ‘Sylphide.’ He was for many years ballet master at Berlin, and died there in 1884, a few months before his sister.

By his wife Amalie, nee Galster, he had a daughter Marie (183301891), who danced at Her Majesty’s in 1947, and was a favorite dancer until her retirement on her marriage in 1866 with Prince Joseph Windisch-Gratz.