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L' Allegro

Ballet & the French Revolution

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L' Allegro

For my British Lit class I read Dickens Tale of Two Cities. And it had me wondering: what happened to the French ballet dancers during the Revolution(1789-1799)? Were they, er, eliminated because they were assosciated with the nobility or they WERE nobility? Or were they okay if they weren't part of the nobility? My ballet teacher is always saying to hold yourself like you're royalty because ballet came from the courts of France. And I've looked it up in several of my precious ballet books. But all I can find is King Loius the whatever, the "Sun King", and then we skip right to Taglioni.

 

Thanks, all!

 

(disclaimer: this is NOT, I repeat, NOT for school. It is merely to satisfy my seemingly insatiable curiousity!)

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Victoria Leigh

I think you need a better history book, L'Allegro! :pinch: Lots of things happened between the time of Louis XIV and Taglioni! :o And yes, the early dancers were courtiers. King Louis even established a school. I'm not sure what happened to the dancers during the Revolution, but that is a good question and I will see what I can find. I'm sure that Major Mel will know, though. :yes:

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Mel Johnson

By the time of the Revolution, courtiers had ceased to perform as dancers in Opéra ballets, but could do whatever they liked at matinées musicales of their own sponsorship. Dancers were hired help, more likely to be revolutionaries than to fear them, except that revolutionaries tended not to spend money on such bourgeois entertainments as ballet. They bailed out to the provinces when the revolution struck. Remember that La Fille mal Gardée debuted in 1789 in Bordeaux. Some went to other countries, like Italy or England. Ninette de Valois even choreographed a comic ballet "The Prospect Before Us" (1940) about the misadventures of the French dancers at His Majesty's Theatre!

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L' Allegro

Thanks Ms. Leigh and Major Mel. I'm curious, however- where are you finding out this information? Any particular books or websites that you could recommend?

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Mel Johnson

It's just years and years of accumulated experience and learning.

 

I was lucky to have had Lillian Moore for a teacher, who wrote on ballet history at a time when few people were writing at all on the subject. She'd fold a history lesson into every technique class. I'd recommend her writing. Also books by Cyril W. Beaumont, Ivor Guest, and the Balanchine "Stories of the Ballets" books - all of 'em! And lately, I've been exceedingly pleased to read the work of noted critic and scholar Robert Greskovic. All dynamite authors. :)

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L' Allegro

I'll have to find some of those authors. Thanks!

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tangerinetwist
It's just years and years of accumulated experience and learning.

 

I was lucky to have had Lillian Moore for a teacher, who wrote on ballet history at a time when few people were writing at all on the subject. She'd fold a history lesson into every technique class. I'd recommend her writing. Also books by Cyril W. Beaumont, Ivor Guest, and the Balanchine "Stories of the Ballets" books - all of 'em! And lately, I've been exceedingly pleased to read the work of noted critic and scholar Robert Greskovic. All dynamite authors. :yes:

 

I consider myself fortunate to have this website as a source of fantastic information. With two little ones, my reading anymore(and until both are in school all day) consists mostly of Dr. Suess, Mother Goose and anything Elmo :)

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