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Franz Hilverding


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(baptized Vienna, 17 Nov. 1710; d Vienna, 29 May 1768)

Austrian dancer, choreographer, ballet master, and teacher. He was born into a family of famous comedians and his father Johann Baptist H. was also a theatre director. He probably studied at the Imperial Court Dance School in Vienna and later with Michel Blondy in Paris (c.1734–6). From c.1737 he was a court dancer in Vienna and from c.1740 a choreographer, arranging dances, ballets, and pantomimes for court operas there. In 1742 he was appointed ballet master at the Kärntnertor Theater and from 1752 he also worked as ballet master for the Burgtheater, creating more than 30 ballets, including Le Turc généreux (mus. Rameau, 1758). In these he pioneered the principles of ballet d'action—integrating pantomime with dance, creating large-scale expressive effects with the corps de ballet and aiming for theatrical realism. One of his pupils, Angiolini, attacked Noverre for claiming these ideas as his own. In 1758 Hilverding went to Russia as ballet master and choreographer of the Imperial Theatres of St Petersburg and Moscow where he created many more works including La Victoire de Flore sur Borée (mus. Starzer, 1760). In 1764 he returned to Vienna and in 1766 took over the lease of Kärntnertor Theater in an attempt to revive Austrian ballet. He is said to have died a bankrupt.

Subjects: Performing artsDance

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