Carlo Blasis

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Carlo Blasis

Carlo Pasquale Francesco Raffaele Baldassare De Blasis (born November 4, 1797 , Naples ; † January 15, 1878 , Cernobbio ) was an Italian dancer, choreographer and dance theorist. Blasis comes from a noble family. He received extensive training, which in addition to the arts also included mathematics, anatomy and literature. He was a student of Jean Dauberval , who in turn had studied with Jean Georges Noverre and Pierre Gardel .

In 1817 he danced in Bordeaux and Paris. From 1818 to 1834 he performed as a dancer in Italian theaters. From 1819 to 1867 he also worked as a choreographer. He was a successful dancer from a young age. After a leg injury, however, he had to give up the career he had begun and now devoted himself increasingly to choreography and the publication of texts. As a choreographer he worked almost exclusively in Italy, interrupted by guest appearances in London (1847), Warsaw (1856–1857), Lisbon (1857–1858), Paris (1860) and Moscow (1860–1863).

In 1837 he became director of the Imperial Ballet Academy in Milan. Blasis' wife Annunziata, his former student and partner, became vice director. During his time as director, the academy became the leading dance school in Europe. Blasis' structure of the lesson, in which the individual lessons begin with the corresponding exercises (adagio, pirouettes, allegro) are the basis of ballet training to this day .

Since Pierre Rameau's Traité (Paris 1725) he is the first to write an extensive dance theory in French again. In contrast to most dance textbooks of the 18th century, his theory does not relate to social but to stage dance. In addition to an extensive activity as a dancer and choreographer, he also stood out through numerous writings. His best-known work is the "Traité élémentaire, théorique, et pratique de l'art de la danse" (Paris 1820), which appeared a few years later in an extended English translation ("The Code of Terpsichore").

Blasis is attributed the invention of the "attitude", which he derived in an ideal form from the famous Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna . He was a successful dancer in Paris and Milan before opening a dance school there in 1837 and establishing his own style. Blasis' dance technique is basically the basis on which classical ballet is based to this day. His technique was passed on to the following generations through his students, in particular Enrico Cecchetti , who also expanded his teacher's technique.

Fonts (selection)

  • Traité élémentaire, Théorique et Pratique de l'Art de la Danse contenant les développemens, et les demonstrations des principes généraux et particuliers, qui doivent guider le danseur. Bologna 1820.
    • ital .: Trattato elementare, teorico-pratico sull'arte del ballo, contenente li sviluppi, e dimostrationi de 'principi generali, e particolari, che devono guidare il ballerino (ex. P. Campilli), Forlì 1830.
    • German: New complete dance school for the elegant world; or comprehensible and comprehensive instruction in social and theatrical dancing; Intended for self-teaching as well as a manual for dance teachers. Ilmenau 1830.
  • The Code of Terpsichore : a Practical and Historical Treatise on the Ballet, Dancing, and Pantomime; with a Complete Theory of the Art of Dancing (trans .: R. Burton), London: J. Bulcock, 1828.
      • Reprint: The Art of Dancing. Comprising its Theory and Practice, and a History of its Rise and Progress from the Earliest Times (trans .: R. Burton), London: E. Bull, 1831.
      • Reprint of "The Code": The Theory of Theatrical Dancing with a chapter on Pantomime, edited from Carlo Blasis Code of Terpsichore, with the original plates by Stewart D. Headlam (trans .: S. Headlam), London: Verinder, 1888.
    • French translation of "The Code": Manuel complet de la danse, ou traité théorique et pratique de cet Art depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu'a nos jours. Paris: Roret, 1830.
      • Reprint: Code complet de la danse. Paris: Audin, 1830.
      • Reprint of “Manuel”: Nouveau Manuel Complet de la Danse, comprenant la théorie, la pratique et l'histoire de cet art depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu'a nos jours. Paris: Roret, 1866, 1884.
  • The Young Ladies Book. London 1829.
  • Studi sulle arti imitatrici. Milano 1844.
  • Notes upon Dancing. London: Delaporte, 1847.
  • Dello stato attuale del ballo, mimica e della coreografia. Torino 1852.
  • Charles Villeneuve . In: Gazetta dei teatri. 18 maggio 1854.
  • Del Carattere della Musica sacra e del sentimento religioso. Milano 1854.
  • L'Uomo fisico, intellettuale e morale, opera di Carlo Blasis. Milano 1857.
  • L'Uomo fisico, intellettuale e morale, opera di Carlo Blasis. Milano 1857.
  • Leonardo da Vinci per Carlo Blasis. Milano 1872.


  • Elizabeth Souritz: Carlo Blasis in Russia (1861–1864). A Cappella Books, Pannington (NJ) 1993.
  • Flavia Pappacena: Il Trattato di Danza di Carlo Blasis (1820-1830). Carlo Blasis' Treatise on Dance (1820-1830). Libreria Musicale Italiana, Lucca 2005, ISBN 88-7096-422-1 .