Marie Taglioni Biography: A Revolutionary Ballerina

marie taglioni biography

There are many ballet dancers that were revolutionary and were instrumental for dance, and it can benefit people who love ballet to know a bit about these celebrated and groundbreaking dancers because they transformed the arts. Marie Taglioni was one such inspiring ballet dancer. She was an Italian/Swedish ballerina who lived from 1804-1884 and danced during the Romantic ballet era. The famous, beautiful ballet La Sylphide was created for her, and this work is still performed today. Taglioni’s strong feet caused dancing en pointe to become popular, and she was one of the first ballerinas to shorten her skirts to show off her amazing pointe work.

Marie Taglioni: An Inspiring Artist

Marie Taglioni was destined to be an amazing ballet dancer, as she was born to a well-respected Italian choreographer, dancer, and teacher, Filippo Taglioni, and a talented Swedish ballerina, Sophie Karsten. Her father was her teacher and pushed her to develop strong feet so she could show the world the beauty of pointe work. Until Taglioni revolutionized it, pointe dancing had been considered an acrobatic stunt and not an actual part of ballet because awkward arm movements and physical exertion often accompanied it.
Taglioni’s father created La Sylphide in order to show off the ballerina’s talent at dancing en pointe. Her hard work paid off, and dancing en pointe is now considered a vital element of ballet. Taglioni went on to perform at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Music of the Paris Opera Ballet, and the Imperial Ballet of Saint Petersburg. During the height of her career as a Romantic-era ballerina, Taglioni scandalously shortened her skirts for La Sylphide to show off her feet. This began the slow transition from long ballet skirts to the short tutu.
When Taglioni stopped performing in 1847, she went on to help reorganize the Paris Opera Ballet, taught social dance and a few select ballet dancers, and choreographed the ballet Le Papillon for her student Emma Livry.

Taglioni | La Sylphide

Taglioni was best known for her appearance in the ballet La Sylphide, which is one of the world’s oldest surviving romantic ballets. This ballet is about a Scotsman who falls in love with a beautiful woodland Sylph, but is tricked by a witch and eventually causes his own death as well as the death of the Sylph. The Sylph is beautiful, sprightly, and ethereal, and, thanks to Taglioni, is known to have graceful arm movements accompanied by delicate pointe work, giving the illusion of flight. There are a few portraits of Taglioni from when she performed as the Sylph, and in each one her graceful lines and romantic beauty is emphasized.
Taglioni revolutionized ballet and was central for European dance.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty Gunther January 2, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Many years ago I read an article that stated Marie Taglioni had broken her own back in order to
achieve certain aspects of ballet. I do not find this in any article written about Taglioni. Have you
ever heard that she broke her own back?

Terry Todd August 30, 2012 at 6:24 am

I have never heard that Marie broke her back. You are most probably getting confused with the fact that she was nicknamed “The Hunchback” when she was a student because of her extreme sloaping shoulders. If you look at portraits of her and photographs of her in old age you can see she had a unique body shape. Exteme sloaping shoulders and over long arms with a tiny torso. What was seen as defects when she was young where what made her a great dancer. Her father realized that if she was to be successful as a Ballet Dancer she had to create something new that fit her unusual body shape. That changed ballet forever.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: