Dame Adeline Genee was born Anina Jensen in Aarhus, Jutland, Denmark in 1878. She was described as “witchery, a fairy to the dance, a perennial wonder child, a beloved favorite.”
Genee devoted her career to setting the dance once again in its ancient place of honor beside music and poetry. She gave the effect of being supreme in all dance forms. She could accomplish as a mere gesture feats that others reserved for a climax such as the astoundingly difficult “enchant huit”. Her costume was mainly of the 1830’s style, reminiscent of Taglioni.
Genee started studying dance at the age of three with her uncle who was a dance master at the Milanse school. At the age of seventeen she made her dancing debut in Copenhagen, then on to Berlin Opera and Munich for her first Coppélia and become premiere danceuse in both cities. In 1897, upon arriving in London to debut at the Empire Theatre and perform for six weeks, she ended up staying for ten years.
Her 1907 debut at the New York Theatre was The Soul Kiss. Genee spent five years in the US with her own company, producing La Dance and performing Coppelia at the Metropolitan Opera House. She also toured in Australia, New Zealand, and, in 1913, western Canada. She retired as a performer in 1917.
In 1920, she was elected Founder President of Operatic Dancing in London, the organization which was to become the Royal Adademy of Dancing when it received a Royal Charter in 1935. She held the presidency until 1954.
Genee came out of retirement in 1932 to perform a suite of dances called The Love Song. Originally presented in Copenhagen, The Love Song was danced for a season at the Coliseum in 1933, where Genee partnered Anton Dolin.
She was awarded by her King the Order of Ingenii et Arti in 1935, the Danish Medal of Liberty in 1946 (in recognition of efforts to restore Anglo-Danish relations), and a Dame of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1950. In 1954 King Frederik of Denmark made her a Commander of the order of Dannebrog, only the second time in history this honour had been given to a woman.
From Dance forms in Musical Theatre by Michael Moor: “Classical ballet crosses the developmental path of musical theatre in a number of ways. Some of the great names in classical ballet performed in Vaudeville, and in Revue’s in the mid to late 19th century Anna Pavlova, Adeline Genee and Fanny Elssler.”
For more details, please see
The Dance Encyclopedia,
© 1967 by Anatole Chujoy and WP Manchester
Simon & Schuster, New York
original © 1949 by S.A. Barnes and Company Inc
ISBN 0-671-2586-3 (hardcover) or ISBN 0-671-24027-7 PBK (paperback)