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definitions - Pas_de_Quatre

pas de quatre (n.)

1.(ballet) a dance for four people

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Pas de Quatre

                   
 
Lithograph by A. E. Chalon of Carlotta Grisi (left), Marie Taglioni (center), Lucille Grahn (right back), and Fanny Cerrito (right front) in the Perrot/Pugni Pas de Quatre, London, 1845

Pas de Quatre is a ballet divertissement choreographed by Jules Perrot in 1845, on the suggestion of Benjamin Lumley, Director at His Majestys Theatre to music composed by Cesare Pugni.

On the night it premiered in London, (July 1845) it caused a sensation with the critics and the public alike. The reason for this was that it brought together, on one stage, the four greatest ballerinas of the time. The ballerinas were, in order of appearance, Lucile Grahn, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito, and Marie Taglioni. The order of appearance was done by age, from youngest to oldest, to quelch further confrontations between them. The original cast of Pas de Quatre only danced four performances together; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were in attendance on July 12, 1845, at the third of these four performances.

The fifth great Romantic ballerina of the time, Fanny Elssler, was invited to take part in the gala event but declined to do so; the young Lucile Grahn accepted without hesitation.

Pas de Quatre captured the essence of the Romantic style as the ballerinas danced with demure lightness, delicacy, and poise. The steps demand that each area of classical ballet technique is executed. These areas include adagio movements, petite allegro, grand allegro, fast footwork, graceful changes of position, and the elegant and fluid arm movements that have become a signature element of Pas de Quatre. Each ballerina has an individual variation, which are performed in succession between an opening and finale that are danced by all the ballerinas together. These variations were choreographed for the ballerina premiering in each role, and were designed to display the best features of each.

Nearly one hundred years later, in 1941, the Ballet was restaged by choreographer Anton Dolin. The dancers he used were, in order of appearance: Nathalie Krassovska as Lucile Grahn, Mia Slavenska as Carlotta Grisi, Alexandra Danilova as Fanny Cerrito, and Alicia Markova as Marie Taglioni. Since then many ballet companies and dancers have performed the piece.

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