English country dance survived well beyond the Baroque era and eventually spread in various forms across Europe and its colonies, and to all levels of society. See the article on English country dance for more information.
The great innovations in dance in the 17th century originated at the French court under Louis XIV, and it is here that we see the first clear stylistic ancestor of classical ballet. The same basic technique was used both at social events, and as theatrical dance in court ballets and at public theaters. The style of dance is commonly known to modern scholars as the French noble style or belle danse (French, literally "beautiful dance"), however it is often referred to casually as baroque dance in spite of the existence of other theatrical and social dance styles during the baroque era.
Primary sources include more than three hundred choreographies in Beauchamp-Feuillet notation, as well as manuals by Raoul Auger Feuillet and Pierre Rameau in France, Kellom Tomlinson and John Weaver in England, and Gottfried Taubert in Germany. This wealth of evidence has allowed modern scholars and dancers to recreate the style, although areas of controversy still exist. The standard modern introduction is Hilton.
French dance types include:
The English, working in the French style, added their own hornpipe to this list.
Many of these dance types are familiar from classical music, perhaps most spectacularly in the stylized suites of J. S. Bach. Note however, that the allemandes, that occur in these suites do not correspond to a French dance from the same period.
Perhaps best known among these pioneers was Britain's Melusine Wood, who published several books on historical dancing in the 1950's.. Miss Wood passed her research on to her student Belinda Quirey, and also to Pavlova Company ballerina & choreographer Mary Skeaping (1902-1984). The latter became well known for her reconstructions of baroque ballets for London's "Ballet for All" company in the 1960s.
The leading figures of the second generation of historical dance research include Wendy Hilton (1931-2002), a student of Belinda Quirey who supplemented the work of Melusine Wood with her own research into original sources. A native of Britain, Hilton arrived in the U.S. in 1969 joining the faculty of the Juilliard School in 1972 and establishing her own baroque dance workshop at Stanford University in 1974 which endured for more than 25 years.
In 1964, French dance historian Francine Lancelot (1929-2003) began her massive research into historical French dance forms. In 1980, at the invitation of the French Minister of Culture, she founded the baroque dance company "Ris et Danceries". Her work in choreographing the landmark 1986 production of Lully's 1686 tragedie-lyrique Atys was part of the national celebration of the 300th anniversary of Lully's death. This production propelled the career of William Christie and his ensemble Les Arts Florissants. Since the Ris et Danseries company was disbanded circa 1993, choreographers from the company have continued with their own work. Béatrice Massin with her "Compagnie Fetes Galantes", along with Marie Genevieve Massé and her company "L'Eventail" are among the most prominent. In 1996 Francine Lancelot's catalogue raisonné of baroque dance, entitled "La Belle Dance" was published.
Catherine Turocy (b.1952) (student of dance historian Shirley Wynne) founded The New York Baroque Dance Company in 1976 with Ann Jacoby, and the company has since toured internationally. Turocy choreographed the first production of Jean-Philippe Rameau's Les Boréades - it was never performed during the composer's lifetime. This French supported production was the national celebration of Rameau's 300th birthday with John Eliot Gardiner conductor, and his Orchestra playing. Ms. Turocy has been decorated as Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, and received the New York BESSIE award for Sustained Achievement.
In search of Lebel: two attractive eighteenth-century fetes galantes in the National Gallery of Ireland are signed simply 'J. Lebel', an otherwise unidentified French painter. Martin Eidelberg sifts through the many artists with that surname and proposes a solution to the puzzle.
Sep 01, 2004; It is exciting as well as instructive to rediscover an artist from the past, to reconstruct his career and oeuvre. Such is the...