Capturing the hovering sylph: Marie Taglioni

Marie Taglioni was one of the first female superstars of ballet who are still widely known today. Her ascension to fame followed an era of celebrated male dancers epitomized in the figures of Gaetan and Auguste Vestris. In my paper, I will accompany Marie Taglioni on her way to celebrity from Stockholm over Vienna and Germany to Paris. Following her overwhelming success in works like the “ballet of the nuns” in Mayerbeer’s Robert le diable and La Sylphide, she conquered other important ballet metropolises, such as London, Berlin and St Petersburg. I will tackle questions such as: which changes in the world of ballet paved the way for the Taglioni’s triumph, and how did they acquire their reputation? How did Marie Taglioni herself perceive her career? Furthermore, I will explore in which ways Taglioni’s glory was documented and spread through artistic representations of her. In short analyses of several images, I will endeavour to find out how she is portrayed in the course of her career, in which ballets and in which media (marble and bronze statues, prints, paintings, photographs).

My paper will mainly be based on sources from the French National Library, from the archives of the Paris Opera and from the Harvard Theatre Collection.

Iris Julia Bührle was born in Rome, Italy and studied History of Art, Comparative Literature and International Relations at Stuttgart University, Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris, Sciences Po Paris and Oxford University. She has written numerous reviews and scholarly papers on ballet, including two Master’s theses on Clavigo by Beaumarchais, Goethe and Roland Petit and Death in Venice by Mann, Britten and John Neumeier. In 2008, she assisted in organizing the Bavarian State Ballet’s festival week, Petipa symposium and John Cranko gala and wrote an article on choreology for the company’s publication ‘John Cranko: the choreographer and his work in Munich’. Her other research interests include UNESCO (articles in Revue d’histoire diplomatique and UNESCO Courrier), an organization she worked with for various projects on history and the arts, including dance. Her doctoral studies focus on choreographic adaptations of literature in France and Germany from the 18th century to the present day. In December 2011, she authored a bilingual biography of the British dancer Robert Tewsley: Robert Tewsley: dancing beyond borders (Wurzburg: Königshausen & Neumann).

Iris Julia Bührle
Symposium Title: 
The dancer in celebrity in the long 18th-century 2014
Author affiliation: 
Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris/ Stuttgart University