Jan 22 2009
The highest rank that ever existed in ballet is Prima Ballerina Assoluta. It is rarely bestowed on the best of the best ballerinas for their exceptional talents and mastership. The rank itself was invented by famous French balletmaster Marius Petipa who headed for many years Russian Imperial Ballet. The idea came to Petipa when he studied the history of the early Romantic Ballet. So, he became the official father of this title when he awarded it to the famous Italian ballerina Pierina Legnani whom he considered a supreme danseuse of all Europe.
Legnani went through extensive training at famous La Scala where she developed her technical expertise. At the time when Petita awarded her with the title, Pierina was also performing on the stage of St Petersburg Imperial Ballet. She was the first Ballerina in the world to perform outstanding 32 fouettés en tournant during the performance of the ballet Cinderella.
Although Legnani danced only for 8 years at the Imperial Ballet, she left deep impression on the contemporaries who witnessed her strength, stamina, and technique. Even today 32 fouettes en tournant is still considered a very difficult step to do.
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