Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1840-1848 - Haymarket (Westminster)

Ballerina and choreographer Francesca [Fanny] Cerrito was born on 11 May 1817 in Naples. She was trained in the ballet school of the Real Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, and studied under Carlo Blasis and the French choreographers Jules Perrot and Arthur Saint-Léon (her husband from 1845 to 1851). Ever since her first stage appearance in 1832, her fame spread throughout Italy. In 1843, Cerrito and her rival Maria Taglioni danced in the same program in Milan. It divided the city into two camps of rival supporters.

For nine seasons, from 1840 to 1848, Cerrito became a highly respected dancer at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket. Master chef Alexis Soyer was obsessed with her. When, in 1845, he published his first book Délassements culinaires, he included a ballet La Fille de l’Orage’, dedicated to Fanny. He also created a molded dessert in her honour topped with a miniature figure of the dancer, weightlessly poised on a spun sugar zig-zag spiral. She died in Paris in May 1909. She was one of few women of her age to be recognised as a talented choreographer.

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