Page:The Art of Nijinsky.djvu/34

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grant family of Vestris, that took unquestionably the lead. The Russian traveller and romantic, Karamzine, has actually recorded his impression of French dancing as he saw it in Paris in 1790, and later on in the same year at Lyon. "There is no one like Vestris!" he ejaculates, and leaves us in no possible doubt that he had never witnessed anything half so wonderful in the theatres of his own country.

Not, indeed, until well on in the nineteenth century did the Imperial Ballet at St. Petersburg begin to compete at all seriously with the art as practised in Paris or in Milan. But then advance was rapid, though the principal performers were still largely imported from Italy and the ballet-masters from France. Nor is it until the middle of the century that we come to a period of distinctively Russian control, with the advent of