Fanny Cerrito

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Fanny Cerrito
Fanny Cerrito, lithograph by Josef Kriehuber , 1842

Fanny Cerrito , actually Francesca Cerrito , (born May 11, 1817 in Naples , † May 6, 1909 in Paris ) was an Italian ballet dancer and choreographer . She studied with the Italian dancer, choreographer and educator Carlo Blasis , with the French Jules Perrot and later with the choreographer, violinist, dancer and dance theorist Arthur Saint-Léon , whose partner she was later for a long time. She was married to Saint-León from 1845 to 1851.


Cerrito made her debut in Naples in 1832 and achieved international recognition as a dancer in London between 1840 and 1848. She was known for her brilliant technique, strength and speed. In London she was in a relationship with the famous chef Alexis Soyer for a while. The connection between the two ultimately failed due to the resistance of their parents, who saw the connection to Saint-Léon as the more career-enhancing relationship.

Fanny Cerrito danced for the first time with Arthur Saint-Léon in Vienna as his partner. Then they were together in London, where they also became a couple privately. She traveled with Arthur Saint-Léon to Rome, Florence, Parma and back to London, where Saint-Léon choreographed “ La Vivandière ” (1843). A complete recording of the “Pas de six” in Saint-Léon's Sténochorégraphie exists for this ballet . Thus there is an exact writing of a Cerrito dance. The success of this ballet led her to tour England and Italy. They married on April 17, 1845 in the Église des Batignolles in Paris.

Cerrito was also active as a choreographer. In 1842 Fanny Cerrito created the ballet “Alma, ou La Fille de feu” together with André Deshayes . In 1847, Saint-Léon brought this ballet to the stage again under the title “La Fille de Marbre”. Her famous roles include the ondine in the ballet of the same name by Jules Perrot, as well as her participation in the famous " Pas de Quatre " (1845), for which a London theater manager wrote the four most famous prima ballerinas of his time (Fanny Cerrito, Marie Taglioni , Carlotta Grisi and Lucile Grahn ) united in a common dance. This “Pas de Quatre” was premiered at “Her Majesty's Theater” and choreographed by Jules Perrot.

In 1851 Cerrito and Saint-Léon divorced and also went their separate ways professionally.

In 1854 Fanny Cerrito danced in Paris in the ballet "Gemma", which she choreographed. In 1857 she retired from the stage. She spent the rest of her life in Paris. It was there that she raised her illegitimate daughter, Mathilde, who arose from her well-known affair with the Spanish diplomat Marquese de Bedmar. Even in old age she remained interested in ballet and thus experienced the development of Russian ballet. Together with Marie Taglioni, she is one of the few women who also made a name for herself as a choreographer in the 19th century.

Joseph Lanner dedicated the Cerrito-Polka , Op. 189


  • Cerito's shadow dance in the ballet "Undine" . In: Illustrirte Zeitung . No. 26 . J. J. Weber, Leipzig December 23, 1843, p. 410 ( ).
  • Antonius Lux (ed.): Great women of world history. A thousand biographies in words and pictures . Sebastian Lux Verlag , Munich 1963, p. 102.

Web links

Commons : Fanny Cerrito  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files