Joséphine Sainte-Claire was a French ballet dancer and choreographer who worked in Sweden in the early 1800s.
Joséphine Gabrielle Marcelle Meunier Sainte-Claire was born in 1793 in Paris. Her parents were Julienne Buisson and Joseph Marcel Meunier Sainte-Claire.
Joséphine Sainte-Claire was a prima ballerina at the Imperial Theatre in St Petersburg. There she married Alexander Védel, the director of the French theatre troupe, whom she later divorced. On 26 April 1813, Joséphine Sainte-Claire made her début at the Kungliga Teatern (Kungliga Operan) in Stockholm, in the ballet master Louis Deland’s pantomime ballet Myrtil et Cloé. She enjoyed a great success and was made prima ballerina the same year at the Kungliga Teater ballet. For nine years, she had many great successes as a prima ballerina and became “the darling of the Stockholmers” according to the opinion of contemporaries. She was particularly famous for her skills in expressing herself in pantomime, for her attractive figure and “the graceful modesty” of her dance. Joséphine Sainte-Claire was acclaimed especially for her solos in the ballets Nina eller Den af kärlek svagsinta; Jenny eller Engelska inbrottet i Skottland; Eglé; Florentina och Adorno eller Den förklädde sjörövaren, and several more. In the role of Rose in the operetta Två ord, with music by N d’Alayrao, that had its premiere in 1816, she was described as exceptionally enchanting. On account of her and her partner’s superior role interpretations, this work created “an immense success” and was retained in the repertoire for a long time.
For ten years, Joséhine Sainte-Claire participated in almost all the ballets produced at the Kungliga Teatern. In 1817, she composed a Pas de Quatre that was performed at the royal castle on 12 May that year and thereafter at the Kungliga Teatern. In 1819, she also choreographed a Greek ”shawl-ballet”, performed on 10 and 27 October the same year. Joséphine Sainte-Claire also choreographed Ett turkiskt divertissement av dans, performed twelve times in 1820–1822. She produced Charles Louis Didelot’s ballet Roland och Morgane that had its Stockholm premiere on 10 April 1820, and was performed eighteen times. It had had its premiere in St Petersburg in 1808. During 1820, Joséphine Sainte-Claire gave guest performances in Copenhagen and also received good reviews there. She made an impression with her eloquently soulful eyes and her graceful dance.
On 26 March 1821, Joséphine Sainte-Claire married the male soloist and ballet master André Isidore Carey. In the autumn of 1823, the couple left Stockholm and travelled to Copenhagen where they performed at the Kungliga Teatern. They were not however employed full time in the Danish capital but travelled on later to Vienna. They did not return to Sweden. Nothing more is known of them or about her life and death or where she is buried.