Fanny Elsler: ballet dancer, biography, photo and personal life

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Fanny Elsler: ballet dancer, biography, photo and personal life
Fanny Elsler: ballet dancer, biography, photo and personal life

An amazing, beautiful and talented woman who became one of the brightest and most fantastic celebrities of the world ballet of her time, she lived a long, happy and extremely eventful life, like a shining star illuminating numerous rows of grateful listeners and ardent admirers…


The future Austrian ballet dancer Fanny Elsler, born on June 23, 1810, in Vienna, the capital, was born on June 23, 1810 in the capital Vienna.

Fanny grew up as an unusually active, mobile and gifted girl. Already at the age of seven, she first performed in front of the public, completely fascinated by her sincere and lively dance. Soon, the parents, inspired by their daughter's talent, gave the young Francisca, along with her older sister Teresa, to study at the balletschool "Burgtheater", located in the Hofburg, which is the winter residence of the Austrian royal Habsburg dynasties and the main seat of the entire Vienna imperial court.

The first performance on stage in the biography of Fanny Elsler took place in 1824, at the oldest opera house in Europe, San Carlo.

Even then, the young dancer was extremely pretty and charming. By the age of seventeen, she had finally become a real ideal of beauty and an object of imitation for secular girls.

Legendary dancer Fanny Elsler


By her coming of age, Fanny Elsler, in addition to the sophisticated attractiveness that nature herself generously bestowed on her, also possessed outstanding physical abilities. Even after the most difficult dance steps, her breathing still remained even. The ballerina was unusually flexible, light and plastic. One of her admirers later wrote:

Watching her, you feel some lightness, you grow wings…

In addition to the above, the dancer also possessed a rare gift of pantomime, which further enhances the effect of her performances.

When the young ballerina Fanny Elsler turned seventeen, she finally conquered her native Vienna and left to conquer Italy, after which Germany, France and Great Britain fell to her beautiful feet.

Elsler was never a classical ballet dancer. On the contrary, her main highlight was Spanish folk dances, and her dance steps, in contrast to the slow and smooth ballet,were joyful, lively and consisted mainly of whole series of small, quick and simple movements that made the hearts of the audience flutter.

On stage, Fanny Elsler avoided academic rules and regulations. Soon she was considered an unsurpassed dancer of ballet interpretations of such folk dances as Kachacha, Mazurka, Krakowiak, Tarantella and even Russian dance.

By 1830, Elsler had already become one of the most prominent and striking figures in the world of ballet, finally conquering the stages of Italy and Germany.

Fanny Elsler dance

Flourishing creativity

In June 1934, the dancer was invited to the Grand Opera de Paris, one of the most famous and important opera and ballet theaters in the world. It was in Paris that Fanny Elsler found her creative triumph and real world fame.

Those years were not at all easy for France, fed up with bloody feuds and political wars. However, with the arrival of the beautiful Elsler, all passions subsided for a while, and the hot eyes of Parisians increasingly began to turn to "the owner of the most beautiful legs in the world, impeccable knees, delightful hands, worthy of the goddess of breasts and girlish grace."

The very first performance of a ballerina on the stage of the Paris Opera in the play "The Tempest" on September 15, 1834 produced the effect of an exploding bomb, and this furore lasted for six whole years, during which Fanny Elsler continued to be the leading dancer of the Opera.

Fanny Elsler, who had all of Europe at her feet

In 1840, the ballerina set off witha two-year tour of the United States of America and Cuba, becoming the first European dancer to conquer the cultural life of these countries. Even in America, for which at that time ballet was a curiosity, Fanny had a resounding success. Fans of her work literally carried her in their arms and showered her with gold.

Austrian ballerina Fanny Elsler

Elsler's crowning and most favorite number among the public was the incendiary Spanish dance "Kachucha", which she performed in the ballet production of "The Lame Demon".

After returning from America, Fanny conquered the stage of Great Britain, and in 1843 she was even elected an honorary doctor of choreographic sciences from Oxford University.

Fanny Elsler. Lithograph by Josef Kriehuber, 1830

Private life

The other side of Fanny Elsler's creative life was no less eventful. Back in 1824, during her performances at the Neapolitan theater "San Carlo", she met the son of King Ferdinand IV of Naples, Crown Prince Leopold of Salerno, from whom she later had a son, Francis.

Five years later, Elsler accepted the courtship of Friedrich von Gentz, a prominent political figure, writer and publicist, and at the same time a passionate admirer of theatrical art.

Friedrich von Gentz

Von Gentz ​​was forty-six years older than Fanny. He treated his young wife with the benevolence of a wise father, and devoted much time and effort to her education, upbringing and training.sophisticated social manners. In general, this marriage could be considered quite successful for both parties, but it did not last long - Friedrich von Gentz ​​died already in 1832.

The main mystery and secret of Fanny Elsler's personal life was her relationship with Napoleon II, the only legitimate son of Napoleon Bonaparte himself.

Napoleon II

Napoleon Francois Joseph Charles Bonaparte, aka Napoleon II - King of Rome, aka Franz - Duke of Reichstadt, most of all differed from other offspring of famous parents only in that he was the only heir to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The young king was destined to live only twenty-one years, and Fanny Elsler was to become his first and last smile.

Napoleon Francois Joseph Charles Bonaparte

The history of their relationship is so mysterious and contradictory that it is no longer possible to separate truth from fiction today. As the contemporaries of this couple wrote, there was an old park around the Royal Palace of Vienna in the Hofburg, in which, after dark, the heir to the emperor met with the ballerina Fanny Elsler, who was then married to Friedrich von Genz.

One way or another, both Napoleon II and von Gentz ​​died in 1832, one month apart. At the same time, the young king died a month later than his rival, and according to one version he was poisoned. Whether a duel took place between them, and whether von Gentz ​​fell at the hands of Napoleon II, and the heir himself at the hands of people avenging the death of von Gentz, we will never know …

HerselfElsler, after the death of her secret chosen one, could no longer remain in Austria. Unable to perform where the eyes of Napoleon II were forever closed, she left for Paris.

Image"Fanny Elster". Painting by artist Carl Begas


In 1848, after the end of all her triumphant tours of Europe and America, Fanny Elsler unexpectedly arrived in Russia, where she shone on St. Petersburg and Moscow stages for three seasons.

The success and love of the Russian audience came to her after her roles in the ballet performances "The Artist's Dream" and "Liza and Colin". Elsler, who was almost forty years old at the time, managed to make the audience believe that the heroine of the production was only sixteen.

When the dancer showed her signature kachucha, krakowiak and especially Russian dance, Fanny's popularity in Russia reached the level of hysteria.

Below in the photo - Fanny Elsler performs kachucha.

Fanny Elsler performs kachucha

During her farewell performance with the ballet production of "Esmeralda", enthusiastic spectators threw about three hundred bouquets onto the stage only after the end of the first act. After the performance, fans of the ballerina's talent harnessed to her carriage instead of horses and took her home.

Leaving Russia, enchanted by the welcome Fanny Elsler gave her, she vowed that she would leave the ballet forever and, after a farewell performance in her native Vienna, would never again appear on the stage.


The ballerina kept her vow.

Indeed, returning to Austria in 1851, she performed with a single performance of "Faust", after which she left the stage and began to live the ordinary life of a secular lady, by and large closed to both others and former admirers her brilliant talent.

Portrait of Fanny Elsler. Work by an unknown artist

November 27, 1884, at the age of 74, the great ballet dancer Fanny Elsler passed away.

Starting her triumphal journey into the world of ballet from the ballet school "Burgtheater", located in the winter residence of the Habsburg dynasties, the ballerina finished it not far from the summer residence of this royal family - at the Hietzing cemetery in Vienna…

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