Arthur Saint-Léon

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Saint-Léon, Arthur


(real name Charles Victor Arthur Michel). Born Sept. 17, 1821, in Paris; died there Sept. 2, 1870. French ballet dancer and choreographer, violinist, composer, and librettist.

Saint-Léon studied dance with his father, L. Michel, and with F. Decombe and violin with N. Paganini. He debuted as a dancer in Munich in 1835 and subsequently toured Belgium, Austria, Italy, and England. A virtuoso dancer, Saint-Léon performed at the Paris Opéra in 1847 in Pugni’s La Fille de marbre, which he also choreographed. He staged ballets there periodically until his death. His last and best production was Delibes’ Coppélia, or The Girl With Enamel Eyes (1870). Saint-Léon was a ballet master in Lisbon from 1854 to 1856 and chief ballet master in St. Petersburg from 1859 to 1869; during the latter period he also worked regularly in Moscow.

Saint-Léon was a gifted musician and an authority on Western European and Slavic folklore and many different types of dances. Although he expanded the repertoires for virtuoso dancers, he made them more vulgar in content. Saint-Léon’s best-known ballets were La Vivandière (1848), Le Violon du diable (1849), Météora (1861), and Teolinda (1862), all four ballets with music by Pugni, Paquerette (1851), with music by Benoist, The Little Humpbacked Horse (1864), with music by Pugni, and La Source (1866), with music by Delibes.


La Sténochorégraphie, ou l’art d’écrire promplement la dance…. Paris, 1852.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.