Baroque dance is a type of dance that originated during the Baroque period. It has long been associated with nobility. Modern dance contains traces of this period of dance. Baroque dance encompasses all dances performed in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It specifically refers to European dances from this time period. Baroque dance was performed in France during the reign of King Louis XIV during the baroque era.
The arts were very important to King Louis XIV. As a result, he promoted the growth of both dance and music. The dance innovations that arose in his court were so important that many of the steps and concepts are still used in modern classical ballet. Because these changes were encouraged Louis XIV and the French nobility, baroque dance is sometimes referred to as “belle danse,” or “beautiful dance,” or the French noble style.
The first of two primary categories of baroque dance is social dance. These dances were performed at balls and other amusement events. The steps in social baroque dance were precise, but they were simple enough for the majority of people to follow. Much of what exists in terms of written choreography, particularly from England, represents these social dances.
Theatrical dance is the second major category of baroque dance. These dances were often performed more serious or advanced dancers at court and in ballets and operas. They were usually more complicated than social dances, but they followed the same basic dance principles.
This type of dance can also be classified based on the number of participants. Many baroque dances were performed with only one or two dancers. Guests and dancers waiting for their turn stood around the perimeter of the room as these dancers performed. The dancers would take up all of the available space, directing their movements toward any nobility who happened to be present. Other baroque dances were collective dances, in which everyone danced in sets or lines.
Baroque dance is inextricably linked to the music that accompanied the dances. J.S. Bach, George Frederic Handel, and Jean-Baptiste Lully were among the famous baroque composers whose music was used for dancing. These composers were familiar with the steps involved in each dance and were able to create music that flowed naturally with the dancers’ physical movements.
Baroque dancers, like modern dancers, needed variety in their routines to accommodate a variety of music, dancer numbers, dancer skill, and the overall mood the dancer or dancers wanted to convey. As a result, there are many different types of baroque dances, each with its own set of steps and emphasis. The courante, sarabande, allemande, and gigue were among the most popular, though the bourrée, passacaglia, hornpipe, gavotte, and chaconne were also popular.
Baroque dance masters eventually wrote down the steps for both social and theatrical dances, and scholars reconstruct baroque dances using these writings. Raoul-Auger Feuillet, who created the first major dance notation under King Louis XIV, was perhaps the most influential of these masters. Guillaume-Louis Pecour, Pierre Rameau, Mister Isaac, Edmund Pemberton, and Kellom Tomlinson were among the other notable choreographers.