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Christian Johansson

Christian Johansson (May 20, 1817 – December 12, 1903) was a teacher, choreographer and coaching balletmaster for the Russian Imperial Ballet. Born Pehr Christian Johansson in , Sweden, he moved to Russia as a dancer and stayed on as one of the most important teachers in Russian history. He is remembered in Russia as exemplifying the artistic beauty of the male dancer. He began teaching in 1860 and by 1869, had become the leading ballet instructor at the Imperial Ballet School. He stayed there until his death in 1903. Johansson studied under Bournonville and partnered the great ballerina Marie Taglioni.

Johansson made his debut on the stage of the Royal Opera House in Stockholm. Naturally endowed to be a fine dancer, he was noticed by the great Danish choreographer August Bournonville. After studying with Bournonville in Copenhagen for two years, Johansson earned the right to be called his pupil and was trained in the French classical style, la belle danse. Beautiful, flexible and graceful in the best tradition of the French school, Johansson attracted the attention of critics. In addition, the great Romantic ballerina, Marie Taglioni, made it a condition of her engagement in Stockholm that Johansson be her partner.

Johansson went on to partner other great ballerinas as well, especially during his time in St. Petersburg. Some of these were Fanny Elssler, Carlotta Grisi, Adèle Grantzow, Yelena Andreyanova, Tatyana Smirnova, Marfa Muravieva, Nadezhda Bogdanova and Fanny Cerrito.

His move to Russia at the beginning of the 1840s helped Johansson's career as a dancer. At that time in Europe, the male danseur enjoyed less importance than that of the ballerina. Only in St. Petersburg could a male dancer achieve great success and there perform his own solos, rather than appearing only as a ballerina's partner. This perhaps explains the appearance of the great artistic talents, Marius Petipa, Jules Perrot, Arthur Saint-Leon and Johansson himself, at the Russian Imperial Ballet.



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