[boo-rey; Fr. boo-rey]

''This article is about various types of dance and music called "bourrée".

The bourrée is a dance of French origin common in Auvergne and Biscay in Spain in the 17th century. It is danced in quick double time, somewhat resembling the gavotte. The main difference between the two is the anacrusis, or upbeat; a bourrée starts on the last beat of a bar, creating a quarter-bar anacrusis, whereas a gavotte has a half-bar anacrusis. It often has a dactylic rhythm. In his Der Vollkommene Capellmeister (Hamburg, 1739), Johann Mattheson wrote of the bourrée, "its distinguishing feature resides in contentment and a pleasant demeanor, at the same time it is somewhat carefree and relaxed, a little indolent and easygoing, though not disagreeable.

Composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Frédéric Chopin used the musical form of the bourrée. The dance survives to this day in the Auvergne and has been successfully "exported" to the UK and other countries. The bourrée of lower Auvergne, also called Montagnarde, is in triple time, while that of high Auvergne is in double time.

History and usage

Johann Sebastian Bach often used the bourrée in his suites as one of the optional dance movements that come after the sarabande but before the gigue; he also wrote two short bourrées in his Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. George Frideric Handel, a contemporary of Bach, wrote several bourrées in his solo chamber sonatas. In the 19th Century, composers such as Frédéric Chopin and the Auvergne-born Emmanuel Chabrier wrote bourrées for the piano (such as the latter's Bourrée fantasque, composed 1891). The Victorian English composer, Sir Hubert Parry included a bourrée in his Lady Radnor Suite (1894). Another famous bourrée is part of Michael Praetorius's The Dances of Terpsichore.

The bourrée is also a ballet step consisting of a rapid movement of the feet while en pointe or demi-pointe. A pas-de-bourrée consists of bending both legs, extending one, then stepping up, up, down, finishing with bent knees. It is more commonly known as the 'behind side front' or 'back side front'. A pas-de-bourrée-piqué picks up the feet in between steps.

The Bourrée in popular music

The Bourrée has been utilized as a form by a number of pop and rock music bands. A few examples include:


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