VII
ADELINE GENÉE

THERE WAS a certain amount of luck, allied with a measure of justice, in the fact that when Adeline Genée came to London, it was to dance at the Empire Theatre.1 For the Empire had been the first to notice this young dancer, and had offered her a short engagement during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The director of the Hoftheater in Munich, where she was then appearing, was willing to grant her three months' leave so that she could accept the Empire's offer, but only on condition that she remained at Munich as prima ballerina for a further five years. This her uncle and guardian, Alexander Genée, would not allow and the negotiations came to naught. Alfred Moul, the manager of the Alhambra Theatre, was the next to approach her. The terms he offered were very favourable, but at the last moment he had the misfortune to offend the dancer's very touchy guardian. The way then became clear for the Empire to renew its approach. The moment was propitious, for not only had Alexander Genée's desire to arrange a London engagement for his niece been whetted by these two failures, but the Empire's second offer arrived when the young ballerina was uncommitted.

Adeline Genée came to London with an engagement for only six weeks, but she was to stay for ten years, becoming one of the foremost and most popular figures of the Edwardian theatre. She was to enable the Empire to acquire a prestige that outshone that of the Alhambra, while her own achievement went far beyond filling the houses. She was to contribute very largely towards removing the social stigma that clung to the dancer's profession, and thus she helped to pave the way for that great awakening of interest in ballet as a serious art which was to follow later in the twentieth century. During her long spell at the Empire she built up a reputation that justly placed her among the great ballerinas of all time. She became a star of a magnitude to which no other dancer in London had been able to aspire since the days of Taglioni, Elssler and Cerrito sixty years before, and though the

____________________
1
For Adeline Genée's life, the reader is referred to the author's biography of her, based upon her reminiscences, Adeline Genée, 1958.

-51-

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