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Entries / Dance Classes (entry)

Dance Classes (entry)

Categories / Population/Urban Living

DANCE CLASSES, in the 18th century - classes and schools for dance training. Soon after Peter's introduction of the ballroom dances (in the early 18th century) into court ceremony dances became one of the most important cultural skills. Foreign teachers - dance-masters, unlike ballet-masters, who forged ballets - were invited to work at court and in the houses of grand noblemen (A.D. Menshikov, F.Y. Romodanovsky, G.A. Golovkin and others). Since 1727 dance education became a part of the syllabi of state educational institutions. In 1738 French dance-master J.B. Lande obtained permission to open Dance school of Her Majesty attached to the Gentry Army cadet corps (15 Universitetskaya Embankment), which was named Theatre School (precursor of present-day A.Y. Vaganova's Russian Ballet Academy). The first-rate specialists (1770-90) were D. Canziani, A. Gullielmi, F. Hilferding, C. le Picq, I.I. Valberkh and others. Private teachers were also invited for individual teaching. In 1780-90 dance-masters P. Granget, T.S. Bublikov worked at court. The first private dance classes were opened in 1763 by the dancemaster of the Theatre School, Pelen; he was followed by Girard, Sterpet, B. Facciole. In 1769 the first private dance hall was opened (Cabinetmaker Kint's House on Moika River Embankment; not preserved). By the early 19th century private dance classes transformed into establishments for dancing and merry-making for people of different estates. Dance classes set up in life some most fashionable dances (quadrilles based on modern operas, polka, galop etc.). In the 1860s there were 26 dance schools in St. Petersburg. The most popular (in 1840-60) among them were dance classes of Louise Kessenich (95 Moika River Embankment; later 114 Fontanka River Embankment; here J. Hermann's orchestra (Vienna) used to play; N.A. Nekrasov, M.E. Saltykov-Schedrin, F. M. Dostoevsky frequented here); dance classes of K.M. Martsinkevich (Martsinka in private life), which were famous for their spicy character and abundance of ladies of easy virtue; dance classes of Sofia Gebgardt. By the mid-19th century dance classes turned into a variety of amusement palaces. Since the 1860s dances of a cafe chantant sort (cancan and the like) went to masses, and covert prostitution flourished. Frequently scandals and scuffles raised by young drunk men in dance classes. By the early 20th century dance classes had finally become a synonym to a reputable place. They ceased to exist in 1917.

References: Бахрушин Ю. А. История русского балета. М., 1973. p. 24-28; Столпянский П. Н. Музыка и музицирование в старом Петербурге. Л., 1989.p. 87-93.

Y. N. Kruzhnov.

Bublikov (Bublichenko) Timofey Semenovich
Canziani Giuseppe
Dostoevsky Fedor Mikhailovich
Facciolle B.
Gebgardt Sofia
Golovkin Alexander Gavrilovich, Count
Granger Pierre
Guglielmi Pietro Alessandro
Herman Jozeph
Hilferding Franz Anton Christoph
Kessenich Luiza
Lande Jean Baptiste
Le Pique Charles
Martsinkevich Kazimir M.
Menshikov Alexander Danilovich, Gracious Prince
Nekrasov Nikolay Alexeevich
Peter I, Emperor
Romodanovsky Fedor Yurievich, Duke
Saltykov-Shchedrin (real name Saltykov) Mikhail Evgrafovich
Vaganova Agrippina Yakovlevna
Valberkh Ivan Ivanovich

Fontanka River Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 114
Moika River Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 95
Moika River Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city

Бахрушин Ю. А. История русского балета. М., 1973
Столпянский П. Н. Музыка и музицирование в старом Петербурге. Л., 1989

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Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet