Friday, February 9, 2007

The most widely traveled ballet star of her time, Elssler made quest appearances throughout Europe and was the first major ballerina to visit the New World, where her performances were received with wild enthusiasm. In Havana she was surprised when an admirer gave her a cigar box as a present; when she opened it, she discovered that all the "cigars" were made of solid gold. In Washington, D.C., Congress adjourned on the day of one of her performances. Her enthusiastic fans christened such diverse commodities as boots, horses, boats, stockings, garters, corsets, shawls, parasols, fans, shoe polish, shaving soap, and champagne after her. The New England intellectuals also fell under her spell. At one Boston performance, Margaret Fuller remarked to Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Ralph, this is poetry." "No, " he replied, "it is religion." Nathaniel Gnawthorne [sic] seems to have agreed, for he hung a picture of Elssler on his wall between portraits of Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier. Elssler's most devoted fans did even stranger things. Some drank champagne from her slipper. Others presented her with a cross made from the wood of George Washington's bier. And Elssler was not the only ballerina to receive such adulation: once, Taglioni's fans in St. Petersburg cooked and ate a pair of her ballet slippers at dinner.

-Jack Anderson
Ballet & Modern Dance: A Concise History


Kevin Thomas Sparks said...

Who's this Nathaniel Nawthorne you speak of?

Bork Bork Bork!

Michelle Kirstin Snow said...

He eats hot dogs and speaks funny!

Bork bork bork!

Laleh said...

You write very well.