Jean-Georges Noverre

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Jean-Georges Noverre (April 29, 1727November 19, 1810) was a French dancer and ballet master, and is considered to be the creator of modern ballet. His birthday is now observed as International Dance Day.

He first performed at Fontainebleau in 1743, and in 1747 composed his first ballet for the Opéra-Comique. In 1748 he was invited to Berlin by Prince Henry of Prussia, but a year later he returned to Paris, where he mounted the ballets of Gluck and Piccini. In 1755 he was invited by Garrick to London, where he remained for two years.

Between 1758 and 1760 he produced several ballets at Lyons, and published his Lettres sur la danse et les ballets. It is from this period that the revolution in the art of the ballet for which Noverre was responsible can be dated. He was next engaged by Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg, and later Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, until 1774. In 1775, he was appointed maître des ballets of the Paris Opera at the request of Queen Marie Antoinette. He retained this post until the French Revolution reduced him to poverty. He died on November 19, 1810, at St. Germain.

Noverre's friends included Voltaire, Mozart, Frederick the Great and David Garrick (who called him "the Shakespeare of the dance"). The ballets of which he was most proud were his La Toilette de Venus, Les Jalousies du sérail, La dour corsaire and Le Jaloux sans rival. Besides the letters, Noverre wrote Observations sur la construction d'une nouvelle salle de l'Opéra (1781); Lettres sur Garrick écrites a Voltaire (1801); and Lettre à un artiste sur les flies publiques (1801).

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