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Jules Perrot was born in France in 1810. He studied with Auguste Vestris and Salvatore Vigano, two of the principal exponents of expressive ballet (as opposed to pure or formal ballet). He made his debut in 1830 at the Paris Opera, where, despite the period’s prejudice against male dancers, he was highly applauded for both his classical and his mime dancing. A combination of knee trouble and the professional jealousy of his partner Marie Taglioni led to his resignation in 1835. He then toured Europe as a dancer and choreographer and in Naples was joined by the young ballerina Carlotta Grisi, whom he trained and later married. Perrot again danced in Paris in 1840, but only Grisi was hired to perform at the Opera. Since he frequently arranged her solos, his choreography is now believed to include that of her title role in Giselle, still considered a consummate challenge to a ballerina’s artistry; Jean Coralli, however, received all official credit for choreographing Giselle.
From 1842 to 1848 Perrot worked in London, making it an important ballet centre by choreographing such ballets as Ondine, Esmeralda, and the Pas de Quatre, staged for Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Lucile Grahn, and Fanny Cerrito. In 1848 Perrot became premier danseur at the Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburg, where he created eight more ballets and revived many others.
Perrot died in France on August 24, 1892.