Auguste Vestris

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Auguste Vestris
Thomas Gainsborough - Auguste Vestris.jpg
Vestris by Thomas Gainsborough, about 1781
Born Marie-Jean-Augustin Vestris
27 March 1760
Paris, France
Died 5 December 1842
Paris, France
Resting place Montmartre Cemetery
Nationality French
Occupation Dancer
Choreographer
Children Armand
Parent(s) Gaetano Vestris
Marie Allard

Marie-Jean-Augustin Vestris (27 March 1760 – 5 December 1842) was a French dancer and choreographer. He is known as Auguste Vestris

Biography[change | change source]

Vestris was born in Paris, the son of Gaetano Vestris and his mistress, the dancer Marie Allard. He was taught by his father, and made his debut in 1772 in the divertissement La Cinquantaine. He scored his first great success the following year as Amor in his father's ballet Endymion.[1]

Vestris was appointed a soloist at the Paris Opéra in 1776, premier danseur in 1778, and premier sujet de la danse in 1780. He performed in the first production of Jean-Georges Noverre's Les Petits Rien and in Christoph Willibald Gluck's Alceste.

In 1780, he began a successful association with the King's Theatre in London. He performed there for more than ten years. He choreographed several ballets for the theatre including The Nymphs of Diana (1781), Le Premier Navigateur (1786), dances in Grétry's opera L'Épreuve villageoise (1786), and Les Folies d'Espagne (1791). He and his father were so famous that Parliament stopped sitting to see them dance.[2] He left his wife shortly after the birth of their son Armand.

He taught many of the famous dancers of the age. Among his pupils were Marius Petipa, Fanny Elssler, August Bournonville, Marie Taglioni and Jules Perrot.

Vestris retired in 1816 from the Paris Opéra. In 1835, at the age of 75, he danced a minuet at the Opéra with Taglioni. He died in 1842, and is buried in Paris in Montmartre Cemetery.[3]

Vestris had extraordinary elevation and a dazzling virtuoso technique. Vestris was vain, arrogant and rude. The Opéra only tolerated his bad behavior for 35 years because of his great talent.[4]

References[change | change source]