Sunday, 14 June 2015

A fan letter to Madame Deshayes

Thomas Wilson, the dance teacher, in his 1808 book "An Analysis of Country Dancing" has the following dedication:

 "To Madame Deshayes Principal Dancer at the King's Theatre, Opera House. Madam, Your approbation of my humble effort is a reward, I fear, beyond my just deserving; for whether I reflect on the elegance of your taste, the brilliancy of your talents, your goodness of heart, or suavity of manners, I am equally wrapt in admiration, and can scarcely reconcile a belief that I am entitled to such exalted patronage.

The King's Theatre c1808


These, together with the consideration, Madame, of you having left your native country to afford delight to Britain, when you might have enjoyed both riches and honor at home, must continue to excite in me the warmest wishes, that you and your admirable consort may ever enjoy the just reward of your meritorious labours; and may your country feel and equal gratitude with that which now warms the breast of, Madame your obedient humble and devoted servant"

Madame Deshayes was born Elizabeth Duchemin who was one of the leading female dancers of her generation. Her "admirable consort" was Andre Jean-Jacques Deshayes dancer and choreographer the son of a celebrated dance teacher descended from a famous theatrical family. He trained at the Paris Opera School and in 1794 at the age of 17 made his debut with the company and became a principal dancer at the London Kings theatre in 1800 where he met his future bride.

Andre Deshayes as Achilles 1804.

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