A star was born last night in Vienna

Last night’s ovations at the Vienna Sate Opera for Nikisha Fogo were so tumultuous that she was instantly awarded the title prima ballerina (Erste Solotänzerin).

Nikisha, who is Swedish, was dancing the opening night of Manuel Legris’ choreography of Sylvia.


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  • Surely “erste Solotänzerin” corresponds to the English rank of first soloist, which ranks below principal. Prima ballerina is the highest rank for a female dancer, save the unusual distinction of prima ballerina assoluta. I assume, though I am not absolutely certain, that prima ballerina is not normally translated.

    • But does that mean that Erste Solotänzerin is the same as prima ballerina, or is there still a rank of prima ballerina above that of Erste Solotänzerin, just as in most companies prima ballerina is a distinction given to a particularly outstanding principal? I looked at the list of current Erste Solotänzerinnen and there are seven of them, which seems to correspond more to principal than prima ballerina.

      • Well: In Paris they have Etoiles as the top level (out of five), the others being Premiers danseurs, Sujets, Coryphées and Quadrilles. So Paris has one level more than Vienna. But even in Paris they have ten female Etoiles and seven male Etoiles, and do not appear to distinguish between them (they are listed alphabetically). The Staatsballett Berlin uses the same terminology as Vienna (except for using the term Demi-Solotänzerinnen instead of Halbsolistinnen), and has five Erste Solotänzerinnen, none of them listed as being more first than the other.

        The important company at Copenhagen has just three levels, Solodansere, Solister and Korpsdansere. (They also have three Karakterdansere – aged 40 – 69), Even there none of the six female solodansere are listed as being more important than the others.

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