The Étoile of the two Worlds: Marietta Baderna

The Risorgimento in ballet – Episodes between chronicle and legend from the world of the dance – 6th instalment

One of Blasis’ Pleiades from La Scala to the Tropics.

Another great star of the Italian romantic ballet, Marietta Baderna, was personally involved in the Risorgimento. The daughter of a staunch Republican, a favorite pupil of Carlo Blasis, she was in Trieste at the outbreak of the revolution of 1848 that she joined with enthusiasm.

After the return of the Austrians she was forced to leave Italy with her father and embarked for Brazil. Even there, however, Marietta found means to express her longing for freedom, daring to bring on stage – in a country that wished to resemble the European world and to suppress the culture of indigenous peoples – the dances of the blacks: the lundum, the fado, the Bahia, considered licentious and therefore subversive by the whites.

The Lundum - engraving by Johann Moritz Rugendas

Her very name gave rise to the term Badernão, synonymous with disorder and transgression. Because of this spirit of rebellion Marietta Baderna is compared to the figure of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Hero of the two Worlds, since both fought – albeit in different forms – in Europe as well as in South America in the name of dignity and freedom of nations and individuals.

Anyone wishing to study this  unusual episode of nineteenth-century dance can read the book by Silverio Corvisieri, Badernão: la ballerina dei due mondi (Roma, Odradek, 1998).

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