The Risorgimento in ballet – Episodes between chronicle and legend from the world of the dance – 7th instalment
Luigi Danesi (1832-1908), one of the choreographers who distinguished themselves during the Italian Wars of Independence, is the subject of an entry in the book by Ulderico Grottanelli about the fighters in the wars between 1848 and 1870 (Roma, Tipografia Tiberina di Federico Setth 1902). Born in Rome, Danesi lost his father when he was just six years old but, with the help of his mother, cultivated his studies and enrolled at the university. In 1849 he joined the Students’ Battalion in defence of the Roman Republic, earning the rank of Lieutenant and taking part in all combat action from April 30 to the fall of the Republic.
With the restoration of the papal government and the waning of that anticlerical enthusiasm that had accompanied the Pope’s flight to Gaeta to the strains of the chorus Se il Papa è andato via/ buon viaggio e così sia/ Viva l’Italia e il popolo/ e il Papa che va via [If the Pope has left/ we wish him a good trip/ Long live Italy and its people/ and the departing Pope. These lines are attributed to Goffredo Mameli, the author of the lyrics for Fratelli d’Italia that was to become the Italian national Hymn], Danesi had to leave university and find employment. His mother had died, worn-out from grief and persecution by the government. He joined a drama company, thus embarking on a stage career, and soon became a great mime artist and an acclaimed choreographer. Later he was commissioned as Lieutenant and afterwards Captain in the Edolo Battalion of the 1st Alpini Regiment. For his artistic career he was honoured with the crosses of Knight and Officer of the Crown of Italy. (R.Z.)