2 3 Throwback Thursday and Auguste Vestris | Ballet Webb

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Throwback Thursday and Auguste Vestris

Throwback Thursday and Auguste Vestris

Auguste Vestris (1760-1842) is a significant link in a veritable dance dynasty.  He studied with his father Gaetano Vestris, who studied with the famous Dupré.  Auguste’s mother was dancer Marie Allard.
According to one account, (http://michaelminn.net/andros/biographies/vestris_dynasty/), Gaetano was “conceited beyond belief”, which “may have been a family trait”.  Be that as it may, Auguste’s ability as an extremely talented dancer was recognized early, and despite being somewhat knock-kneed, his elevation was extraordinary.   Soon he was considered Europe’s greatest dancer.

But his most important legacy is that of being a teacher.  His pupils included: Didelot, Perrot, and Bournonville to name just a few.  So his knowledge was passed on to many who went on to become great teachers themselves.  So his influence continues today.  

The above portrait of Vestris was recorded as “Portrait of a Young Man” in the 1888 annual report of the National Gallery.  It wasn’t until 1946, when the portrait (and its history) was more closely scrutinized, that its subject was identified as being more than just "a young man".  It was Auguste Vestris, and the work was originally titled “Vestris the Dancer”.

When Vestris was 75 years old he danced a minuet with his student Marie Taglioni.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #28:  
“Auguste Vestris was a dancer and teacher who trained many great teachers.  Therefore his legacy lives on today.”

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-A.R. Ammons

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