Christopher Wheeldon: how I fell for the scandalous Madame X

The acclaimed choreographer explains the origins of Strapless – his new ballet about Madame X, the It Girl of 19th-century Paris who was destroyed by a daring portrait

When I moved to New York 23 years ago, I started going to the Metropolitan Museum every Sunday. On my way to the American wing one day, I spotted this portrait by John Singer Sargent hanging in a stairwell, all on its own. The woman – Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau – looked magnetic, regal and modern. I started to revisit her quite often and wanted to know more. Then I came across the novel Strapless by Deborah Davis. It’s a mixture of fact and fiction, because little was written about Amélie at the time. I found Davis’s version enthralling.

Amélie was obviously charismatic: the kind of woman other women wanted to be like; the kind men wanted to be with

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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