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Long before the rest of these famous ballet figures graced the stage, Marie Camargo’s name was an important one in the dance world. Growing up poor with a violinist and dance-master Belgian father, young Camargo performed as “premiere danseuse,” or “featured dancer,” at the Paris Opera Ballet. She was able to perform footwork so complex that she was the envy of several fellow dancers, and is given credit for both the creation of shortened ballet skirts (originally hemmed upward to showcase her impressive technique).

As a performer in 78 ballets and operas through the years, she later was the inspiration of a ballet titled after her surname. While it has not been performed since 1917, it was highly celebrated during its heyday. Marie Camargo died in 1770, but her name is an important one in the history of ballet.

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