Spotlight Saturday: Eugenie Fiocre

This week's Spotlight Saturday features French ballerina Eugenie Fiocre. This is only a short one, I'm afraid (and an early post); mainly because I'm in Wellington this weekend, where Alison will be going to another Examiner's seminar at New Zealand School of Dance (so wifi's been a bit of a rarity).

Eugenie Fiocre was born in Paris on July 2, 1845. She performed at the Paris Opera Ballet as a principal dancer between 1864 and 1875. Her sister Louise was also a dancer there. Eugenie was a very popular performer, and created roles in Arthur Saint-Leon's La Source (as the princess Nouredda) and in Nemea, ou l'Amour Venge. In this last ballet, she played Cupid alongside Louis Merante (another of the Paris Opera's famed principal dancers, later influential as a choreographer).

Above: Eugenie as Cupid in 'Nemea, ou l'Amour Venge' ('Nemea, or Love's Revenge'), Paris Opera Ballet, c. July 1864; Below: Eugenie in a portrait by Winterhalter

However, Eugenie was also well known for dancing en travesti - literally 'disguised' - meaning she danced male roles in male costume. Her most famous role in this manner was in Coppelia, where she created the role of Franz in 1870. She performed alongside the talented Giuseppina Bozzacchi, the original Swanhilda, who was just 16 years old. The ballet was a great success (its premiere was well received by an audience which included Emperor Napoleon III), but its run was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War. Coppelia was last performed with Bozzacchi on August 18, after which the Opera shut its doors and stopped paying salaries. Bozzacchi, weakened by lack of food, died from smallpox on November 23, 1870, aged 17 (she died the morning of her birthday), during the Siege of Paris by the Prussians.

Above: as a Matador, ballet unknown (unfortunately no photograph of Eugenie as Franz may be found); Below: Giuseppina Bozzacchi as Swanhilda, Paris Opera Ballet, 1870

Eugenie, however, survived both the closure of the theatre (due to the outbreak of war), and the Siege of Paris. A noted beauty, she was sculpted by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and was painted in her role of Nouredda by Impressionist Edgar Degas. She married the aristocrat Stanislas Le Compasseur de Crequi-Montfort, Marquis de Courtivon, and her son was the Olympian, explorer, anthropologist and diplomat Georges de Crequi-Montfort. Eugenie died in Paris on June 6, 1908.

Above: Eugenie portrayed in marble by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux; Below: A scene from 'La Source' featuring Eugenie as Nouredda (figure in blue), by Edgar Degas

Thanks for reading!

- Selene

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