The Vanishing Point 1815 – 2015: Two hundred years of Dancing on Pointe?

Today, in 2015 there is still no real consensus as to a date for the invention of the technique of dancing on the points of the toes – The ‘usual suspects’ tend to award the crown to Marie Taglioni and the date to 1831 – the year in which she  was  memorably  depicted  by  Alfred Edward Chalon dancing ‘en pointe’ as Flora in Didelot’s Flore et Zephyr (or is she?). This paper examines Chalon’s original drawing for the print  and  reviews  and  interrogates  some visual evidence for some of the aspirants to Taglioni’s crown.

Keith Cavers is a Consulting Iconographer. He studied Stage Management at RADA and the History of Drawing and Printmaking at Camberwell College of Arts. Subsequently Slide Librarian and visiting lecturer for twenty years at Camberwell. For twelve years Information Officer at the National Gallery, London. He gained an M.Phil at the University of Surrey with “James Harvey D’Egville and the London Ballet 1770-1836.” and a John M Ward visiting research fellowship in music and dance for the theatre to research dance prints at Harvard. He runs Pimpernel Prints (, antiquarian print dealers specialising in the iconography and ephemera of the performing arts, and provides lectures and seminars on the examination of prints and drawings. He hopes to produce his catalogue of English dance prints 1667-1836 this year.

Keith Cavers
Symposium Title: 
Dancing for Anniversaries and Occasions: Chamber, Court, Theatre & Assembly 2015
Author affiliation: 
Independent Scholar