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Arthur Michel Saint-Léon

SAINT-LÉON, ARTHUR MICHEL (1815?–1870), dancer and choreographer; creator of famous 19th-century ballets. Saint-Léon came of a theatrical family and in the 1830s toured Europe, appearing from 1840–42 at the Vienna Opera. He married the celebrated ballerina Fanny Cerrito, and, until they separated in 1850, choreographed many ballets for her, including his first ballet, La Vivandière, in London in 1844. Among the many ballets and divertissements he did for the Paris Opera were La Fille de Marbre (1847), Le Violon du Diable (1849), in which he displayed his accomplishments as a violinist, and Stella or The Smugglers (1850), in which he introduced a group of Jewish merchants. In 1859 Saint-Léon became ballet master of the Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburg and there staged the first ballet on a Russian theme, The Humpbacked Horse (1864). Touring the European capitals as a guest choreographer, he restaged many of his own works under different titles, which made his output seem larger than it actually was. After the failure of his ballet The Goldfish (1867), he returned to the Paris Opera and was part author of the ballet Coppélia, staged in 1870 shortly before his death. In 1852 Saint-Léon published La Sténochorégraphie ou l'art d'écrire promptement la danse, an attempt at a workable system of dance notation.


C.W. Beaumont, Complete Book of Ballets (1937).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.