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[Gaspare, Gaspero] [Gasparini, Domenico Maria Angiolo]

(b Florence, Feb 9, 1731; d Milan, Feb 6, 1803). Italian choreographer, dancer and composer. Along with his rival Jean-Georges Noverre, Angiolini was one of the principal exponents of the new danza parlante, or ballet en action. He began his dance career in Lucca (1747) and also in Venice (1747–8, 1750–51), Turin and Spoleto (1751), Lucca again, this time also working as a choreographer, and Rome (1752–3) before moving to Vienna. There, in 1754 he married his partner, Maria Teresa Fogliazzi (1733–92), notwithstanding the rivalry of Casanova. During Carnival 1756–7 Angiolini produced ballets for the operas given at the Teatro Regio, Turin, also performing as primo ballerino, partnered by his wife. He returned to Vienna as premier danseur at the French theatre, and when the choreographer Franz Hilverding van Wewen departed for Russia in November 1758, the director Giacomo Durazzo named Angiolini as his successor. Gluck succeeded Joseph Starzer as composer of ballet music....

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Roger Fiske

(fl late 18th century). Irish ballet dancer and composer. He is probably the ‘Riccardo Bleck’ described as newly hired who danced at Florence in 1763. He composed a ballet in Parma in 1776 and several for Venice in 1777–8 when librettos refer to him as in the service of the Duke of Parma. He appeared again in Florence both as dancer and composer of ballets in 1779 and 1781–2. Michael Kelly met him in Naples in 1780 and said he ‘had gone abroad very young, and had become a very fine pantomime actor, and was considered the best grotesque dancer of his day’. In Naples he danced Artabanes in a ballet called Artaxerxes and Sancho Panza in one Kelly called The Achievements of Don Quixote. The articles on Kelly in the General Magazine for May and June 1788 mention his friendship with Blake, ‘a famous dancer now in London, and retired from the profession’. Blake published ...

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Gabriella Biagi Ravenni

(b Lucca, Feb 5, 1742; d after 1798). Italian librettist, dancer and choreographer. A brother of Luigi Boccherini, he made his début as a dancer in Venice in 1757, but his major successes were achieved in Vienna between 1759 and 1767 (for example, Noverre’s revived Médée et Jason) and from 1769 to 1771. He used this success to begin a career as a librettist; he was a member of the Accademia dell’Arcadia (with the name of Argindo Bolimeo) and published a collection of sonnets. His libretto Turno, re dei Rutoli, a dramma tragico (Vienna, 1767), was never set to music, but reveals a progressive approach to drama; its commendation by Calzabigi, appended to the libretto, led to contact with Salieri, who set to music most of Boccherini’s subsequent librettos. These reveal a talent for pantomime and choreography, and handle theatrical conventions with ease. From 1772 to 1775...

Article

(b mid-18th century; d Paris, 1815). French composer, dancer and teacher. He first acquired fame as a dancer. He danced at least once at the Comédie-Française in 1762 and was ballet-master there by 1764; he was an adjoint at the Opéra in 1774. In 1777 he made his début as a composer at the Concert Spirituel, and during the following ten years his compositions were performed there 25 times – the fourth-largest number of presentations of works by a native composer in that period. He was dismayed by the foreign domination of French musical life and, in response to an unfavourable review of his oratorio Les Macchabées (1780), wrote ‘It is unfortunate for a French musician to have been born in his own country’. He was master of dance at the Ecole Royale de Chant from its establishment in 1784 and made his début as an opera composer the following year with ...

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Kate Van Winkle Keller

(b Paris, France, c1762; d Washington, DC, April 11, 1841). American dancing master, choreographer, and composer of dance music. He was born into a family named Landrin with close connections to the court of Louis XVI. He was a pupil of Maximilien Gardel (1741–87), and for six years he was dancing master for the Paris Opéra. He left Paris three days after the fall of the Bastille in 1789 and arrived in Philadelphia in mid-1790. He changed his name, placing advertisements for his dancing schools as Mr. De Duport. Chiefly a choreographer and teacher of social dancing, Duport blended amateur and professional dancing with theatrical standards of content and performance. He wrote music and created hornpipes and other solo dances for his students, as well as duos such as figured minuets, allemandes, and waltzes; group dances, including complex French contredanses, cotillions, and English country dances; and ballets for his classes to perform at recitals. A music copybook in Duport’s hand traces his creative career from ...

Article

Elizabeth Gibson and Curtis Price

[John]

(b Florence, Jan 7, 1728; d London, Jan 5, 1805). Italian dancer, choreographer and impresario. He moved to Paris and, according to Antoine de Léris (Dictionnaire portatif des théâtres, 1754), was a member of the Académie Royale de Musique company until at least 1754. His first recorded appearance in London was at Covent Garden on 17 December 1757, when he danced in the ballets The Judgement of Paris and The Sicilian Peasants. In autumn 1758 he joined the corps de ballet at the King's Theatre, dancing in operas by Cocchi and Perez, and was named director of dances for Cocchi's Ciro riconosciuto (3 February 1759). He continued as dance director as well as a performer through the 1762–3 season, providing ballets for J.C. Bach's first London opera, Orione (19 February 1763). During 1763–4 he returned to Covent Garden as director of dances and was re-engaged in ...

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Kathleen Kuzmick Hansell

(b Naples, c1760; d Naples, March 30, 1826). Italian dancer and choreographer. By 1775 he was a principal dancer at the Teatro Regio, Turin. He appeared there regularly up to 1778 and in 1784–9, but also danced in Florence (1776, 1779–80), Lucca (1779), Rome (1781, 1787) and Naples (1783, 1785). He made his choreographic début at Turin in 1789, then worked in Venice and at La Scala, Milan. He was subsequently principal choreographer and dancer at the major theatres of Naples (1793, 1795–6), Milan (1793–4), Florence (1798–9), Turin (1799) and Genoa (1800). A period in Vienna from 1800 exposed him to important new stimuli, notably the instrumental music of resident composers, the new lighting techniques and stage effects of the Zauberopern and acquaintance with the younger choreographer Salvatore Viganò. Gioia returned to Italy in ...

Article

Kate Van Winkle Keller

(fl. 1784–1800). American dancing master and choreographer. Griffiths was the earliest-known choreographer to publish his work in the United States. He issued a collection of country dances and cotillions (Providence, 1788), and an expanded collection with instructions for polite deportment (Northampton, 1794). The whole or partial contents of these books were reprinted by several rural New England and New York publishers over the next 15 years. A broadside of the deportment rules was printed separately. Griffiths based his activities in New York (1784–7, 1796–9?) and Boston (1788–94), and taught in smaller towns in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and upstate New York. In 1800 he moved to Charleston, South Carolina, perhaps via Philadelphia. Through his publications and itinerant teaching, Griffiths strongly influenced the repertory of social dancing and behavior in New York and New England ballrooms in the early Federal period. Some of his choreographies, notably “Fisher’s Hornpipe,” are still danced today. Griffiths may have composed several tunes for use in his classes, such as “Griffiths Whim,” “Griffiths Fancy,” and “Duo Minuet.” And he may have been related to one of the Griffiths families active on the English stage during the second half of the 18th century....

Article

(b Paris, bap. Dec 27, 1743; d Paris, May 4, 1816). French dancer. In 1758 or 1759, at about the age of 16, she joined the corps de ballet at the Comédie Française. In 1762 she was hired as a dancer and understudy to Mlle Allard at the Opéra, making a successful début in Les caractères de la danse. On 9 May 1762, standing in for an injured Mlle Allard, she took the principal role of Terpsichore in the prologue of Fuzelier's ballet Les fêtes grecques et romaines. By 1763 she was première danseuse noble at the Opéra and quickly became one of the favourite dancers of the time. The choreographer Noverre observed that she ‘danced tastefully and put expression and feeling into all her movements’, while Baron Grimm found her simplicity ‘artless without being foolish’. Her dancing continued to elicit praise, despite her relatively advanced age of 46, when she performed at the King's Theatre, London, in ...

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Sibylle Dahms

(b Lyons, Sept 1732; d Berlin, Jan 5, 1820). French dancer, choreographer and teacher. He was an influential figure in the history of the ballet en action. A pupil of his father, Laurentius (1713–83), an actor and dancer at the Mannheim Hoftheater, he probably studied in Paris, and then worked as a dancing master and ballet dancer at the Mannheim court (1756–64). In about 1763 he began his career as a choreographer at the court of Hessen-Kassel, creating more than 50 ballets. A printed collection of these ballets (Recueil des Ballets de Cassel, Kassel, 1768, GB-LbI) suggests that he was familiar with the theories and practical works of Noverre. The music for most of these ballets was composed by his former Mannheim colleagues Christian Cannabich, C.J. Toeschi and Ignaz Fränzl as well as by Noverre’s collaborators at Stuttgart, F.J. Deller and Rudolph. Lauchery wrote his own music for at least two of his ballets and, as in a letter by Leopold Mozart (...

Article

[Carlo]

(b Naples, 1744; d St Petersburg, 1806). French choreographer and dancer. As a youth he was influenced by the Noverrian form of ballet en action. His initial contract as figurant at Stuttgart from February 1760, shortly before Noverre’s arrival, was extended in 1761 for six more years, with the additional clause that he be given special instruction by Noverre in ‘Serieux-Tanzen’. By 1766 he was a leading dancer. After Noverre’s departure in 1767 Le Picq transferred to Vienna, where in 1765 he had already come into contact with Hilverding, an early exponent of dramatic dance. He may also have appeared in Warsaw. When Noverre took over at Vienna in late 1767 Le Picq became principal dancer. In 1769 he moved to Italy and, apart from two short visits to Paris to dance under Noverre (1776, 1778), remained until early 1782. He choreographed his first work, a Noverre revival, at Padua in ...

Article

Mary Skeaping

(b Naples, fl 1755–79). Italian dancer in the grotesque style, choreographer and teacher. He is important mainly for his Trattato teorico-prattico di ballo (Naples, 1779; Eng. trans., 1988). This rare work is the only one so far discovered that connects the development of the formalized theatrical dance techniques of the late 18th century with the pre-Romantic movement of the early 19th. Considerable space is given to the use of music for dancing, attention being drawn to the rules that govern both arts and to the essential concordance of dance with its music. There is emphasis on the necessity of the dancer’s knowing music and on the ill consequences of ignorance of this subject. Importance is given to the choice of dance music suitable to the type of theatre, and to the plight of the musician who does not give due thought to this problem. Technical steps, the minuet and 39 contredanses, with music and diagrams, are fully described....

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(d Kensington, London, bur. Aug 28, 1784). English soprano, actress and dancer. The daughter of a Jewish merchant (or tavern keeper) she made her début as Polly in The Beggar’s Opera at the newly opened Covent Garden Theatre in December 1732, with a run of 20 nights in succession. She played Deidamia in Gay’s posthumous ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

[Mrs Vernon, Mrs Thompson]

(b London, June 8, 1736; d after 1788). English soprano and dancer. As a child she appeared as a dancer and at the age of 14 she sang a minor role in the opera La Forza d’amore by Pietro Domenico Paradies with an Italian opera company at the Haymarket Theatre. Three years later, in May 1754, she sang the Genius of England in Thomas Arne's Eliza. She generally played spirited second-woman roles, singing Lucy in The Beggar’s Opera almost every season and creating the parts of Dorcas in Arne’s Thomas and Sally (1760) and Fanny the gypsy in The Maid of the Mill (1765). In 1762 her immodest costume while dancing shocked the party in the royal box and in Thespis she was called ‘the liveliest baggage on the modern stage’. Her Savoy Chapel marriage to the tenor Vernon in 1755 was declared invalid; she sang again as Miss Poitier from ...

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[Francesco ]

(d Lisbon, Jan 18, 1775). French choreographer and dancer . His name first appears as ‘Mons. Soutter’, ballet-master for the 1738–9 opera season at the S Giovanni Grisostomo, Venice: his first opera was Rinaldo di Capua’s Farnace. Except for a three-year period in Stuttgart (1758–61), where he immediately preceded Noverre and choreographed three Jommelli operas, Sauveterre worked in Italy until 1766, creating ballets for operas in Padua (1740), Turin (1740–41, 1749–50), Florence (1743–4, 1746–7), Milan (1746, 1748, 1752–3, 1755–6, 1763, 1765), Reggio Emilia (1741, 1750–51, 1753, 1755), Naples (1742, Leo’s Andromaca), Rome (1749), Bologna (1756) and Venice (1749, 1740–51, 1763–6). Sacchini, Paisiello and Guglielmi are among the composers with whom he worked. In 1766 Sauveterre accompanied his student, Pietro Colonna, to Lisbon, and was recommended as dancing-master to the prince and choreographer for the court theatres, replacing Andrea Alberti, ‘Il Tedeschino’; there he choreographed many operas by Jommelli, as well as works by Perez, Piccinni and others. A contemporary writer in Florence described his ballets as superb. He emphasized dramatic and mimetic content in the style of ...

Article

Nils Schiørring

(b Copenhagen, April 28, 1757; d Copenhagen, Aug 9, 1835). Danish composer, dancer and violinist. In 1772 he joined the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen as a dancer, and in 1775 became a member of the court chapel. The dancer and choreographer Vincenzo Galeotti, recognizing Schall’s ability, appointed him répétiteur and director of ballet at the Royal Theatre in 1776; he also engaged Schall to compose music for many of his ballets. After travelling in the late 1780s to Paris, Dresden, Berlin and Prague (where he met Mozart), Schall returned to Copenhagen in 1792 to take Hartmann’s place as Konzertmeister at the Opera, working successively under J.A.P. Schulz and F.L.A. Kunzen. In 1795 Schall became composer to the Royal Ballet and in 1818 music director at the Opera, where he remained until 1834; he conducted the première of Weber’s Freischütz overture there in 1820.

Though self-taught as a composer, Schall was rated highly by his contemporaries, and his experience as a violinist (he played in the court chapel from ...

Article

[Jean Antoine ]

( fl 1755–92). French choreographer and dancer . His activities were concentrated in Venice, where he produced ballets for more than three dozen operas between 1755 and 1792. Much of his work was for the Teatro S Moisè during the 1770s and 80s, in operas by Traetta, Guglielmi, Bertoni, Astarita and Anfossi, among others, but he also created ballets for the S Samuele (1755–6, 1760, 1780–81), S Benedetto (1760, 1768–9), S Cassiano (1765, 1791–2), and S Salvatore (1767) theatres. In addition he worked as a dancer and choreographer in a number of other Italian cities, including Pistoia (1755, 1767), Rome (1757, 1761, 1778), Parma (1761), Reggio Emilia (1763), Milan (1766) and Turin (1778–9). About 1760 he married the ballerina Anna Conti-Nadi de Sales (detta la Russiene), and apparently adopted her son Federico Nadi. Federico worked at opera houses in Italy from the mid-1760s to the early 90s, often in productions with his parents; in ...

Article

(Rinaldo Giuseppe Maria)

(b Milan, Sept 6, 1739; d ?Venice, 1811). Italian choreographer, dancer and impresario. From the 1750s he danced mostly in Rome, Vienna, Venice and Naples, becoming active as a choreographer from at least 1773 and as an impresario from at least 1783. Viganò was famous in his youth as a dancer in the comic (grottesco) style. Burney, who saw him in Naples in 1770, wrote that he ‘has great force and neatness, and seems to equal Slingsby in his à plomb, or neatness of keeping time’. Later he seems to have appeared only in serious parts, dancing regularly until 1792 and once thereafter, in 1797. He was one of the best-known choreographers in Italy, often working in collaboration with the composer Marescalchi, but he never approached the celebrity achieved by his son Salvatore. His career as an impresario, notably at the Teatro Argentina in Rome (...

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Friderica Derra De Moroda

revised by Monika Woitas

(b Naples, March 25, 1769; d Milan, Aug 10, 1821). Italian choreographer, dancer and composer . He was the son of Onorato Viganò and Maria Ester Viganò (née Boccherini), who were both dancers; as early as Carnival 1783 he was dancing female roles with great success at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, where his father was impresario and ballet-master. He also studied composition with Boccherini (his uncle) and provided music for some of his father’s ballets (the earliest known is Cefalo e Procri, Carnival 1786) and later for some of his own. In summer 1786 he had a farsetta, La credula vedova, performed in Rome. He had moved with his family to Venice by 1788 and danced with them at the S Samuele theatre. In 1789 he went to Spain with an uncle, Giovanni Viganò, to perform in the coronation festivities of Charles IV. There he met the dancer Maria Medina, whom he married, and the French dancer and choreographer Dauberval, who took him as a pupil to Bordeaux and, early in ...