In 1978 dance historian Selma Jeanne Cohen published an essay in Dance Research Journal called “In Search of Satanella.” It lamented the loss to the repertoire of a once-popular ballet about demonic love. Cohen asked a series of questions about the ballet’s 1840 genesis, reception, and transformation over time. Finding answers requires taking up bigger issues about the ballet canon, ballet taboos (including angelic dancers doing devilish things), and ballet reconstruction projects. Perceptions of nineteenth-century Romantic ballet rest primarily on its sturdier, hardier creations, much less so the looser assemblages, the bric-a-brac entertainments intended for diverse audiences. To search for Satanilla is to find more than just this one ballet. It is to discover an entire realm of the repertoire.

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