Home » Health » Fitness

The Jules Leotard Story

Apr 9, 2008
Jules Leotard was born in Toulouse, France in 1872. His father was a gymnastics teacher and so it is not too difficult to see why the young Jules showed an interest in gymnastics and, in particular, acrobatics.

As time passed, Jules Leotard became a highly able gymnastic acrobat but headed down a more traditional road of education, training for a law career. But, as Jules entered his eighteenth year his love of acrobatics took off when he began to experiment with ropes, rings and the trapeze.

Fuelled by a real passion for acrobatics, Leotard enlisted into the Cirque Napoleon, and made his debut public performance on the trapeze in November 1859. Leotard became an overnight success largely due to the fact that he performed a number of unique acrobatic tricks; he was the first performer to perform a mid-air somersault and also the first to leap from one trapeze bar to another.

The public positively swarmed to see the innovative Leotard perform his relatively short act (it lasted around 12 minutes), the mainstay of which was Leotard's impressive leaps between multiple trapezes before he performed a somersault "dismount" to his safety mat on the ground. In fairness, his safety net comprised of a couple of mattresses draped with a few coverings.

Jules Leotard's act was deemed so radical and progressive that his co-artistes sponsored both a commemorative medallion and a banquet in his honour.

From the circus, Leotard translated his trapeze act for the music hall. In 1861 he opened his debut show at London's Alhambra Theatre. The audiences loved him. His shows were a sell-out pulling in huge crowds and turning him into a major music hall star. With his fame came money: Leotard became a very highly paid entertainer.

The Legacy of Leotard

Apart from being a famous acrobatic innovator, Leotard has become known for two other reasons: a song was written about him and he invented an item of clothing that is still popular today.

In 1867 George Leybourne penned the lyrics to the song "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" about Leotard, which became quite the popular hit of its day. Leotard's more famous legacy though is the gymnastic or dance leotard.

Leotard designed a figure hugging "maillot", which was fashioned in such a way as to give him unrestricted movement to perform his acrobatic routines. As he was also an entertainer, Leotard also wanted the skin tight maillot to highlight his muscular stature.

Leotard's maillot became highly popular in the circus as other performers emulated Leotard. The virtues of the garment became accepted by others in the performing arts world to the point where its usage also became popular in Parisian ballet studios.

Unfortunately for Leotard he died from an illness (possibly cholera or typhoid) whilst he was touring in Spain in 1870. He was only 28 years old. Leotard's maillot lived on however, although by 1876 people had begun to call it a leotard. Jules Leotard may have been amused to know that although his maillot was renamed a leotard, the word maillot in France is nowadays synonymous with swimming costumes or jerseys.
About the Author
Mike Laxman is a contributor to the Dance Direct UK website. He regularly reviews dancewear products such as ballet leotards.
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 219
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Artists
    • Gambling
    • Humanities
    • Humor
    • Movies
    • Music
    • Photography
    • Tattoos
    • Television
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Accounting
    • Credit
    • Currency Trading
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Insurance
    • Investing
    • Leasing
    • Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mutual Funds
    • Personal Finance
    • Stock Market
    • Structured Settlements
    • Taxes
    • Wealth Building
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Babies
    • Collecting
    • Elderly Care
    • Genealogy
    • Hobbies
    • Parenting
    • Pets
    • Pregnancy
    • Woodworking
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Buying
    • Selling
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Boating
    • Cycling
    • Extreme Sports
    • Fishing
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Hockey
    • Hunting
    • Martial Arts
    • Running
    • Scuba Diving
    • Soccer
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Causes and Organizations
    • Environment
    • History
    • Holidays
    • Men's Issues
    • Nature
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Women's Issues
    • World Affairs
    • Air Travel
    • Camping
    • Cruises
    • Destinations
    • Outdoors
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources