Thursday, 22 January 2009

Baroque star Hester Santlow

I've just come across this fascinating article by Alastair Macaulay in Tuesday's New York Times on the dancer, Hester Santlow, who managed to charm half of early Georgian London with her 'melting lascivious motions, airs and postures', but acted Shakespeare with equal confidence, having even played Ophelia on the night of her daughter’s wedding (not many could claim that!) Here's an excerpt; it's well worth a read, and it certainly puts Juliette Binoche's latest foray into dance into perspective.

One of her specialties, for more than 20 years, was a harlequin dance. (Her most famous portrait shows her in the dress from that work.) Jed Perl’s recent book "Antoine’s Alphabet" muses on Jean-Antoine Watteau’s fascination with harlequins; Santlow was Watteau’s contemporary, and her popularity was such that portraits of her in her harlequin costume sold widely on snuffboxes (according to a German writer in 1710). Another Santlow specialty was to loosen her hair as she danced - something that 250 years later became a device in several Balanchine ballets.

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