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Speculating the Spectator: Dance and the Mise en scène of the Gaze at the Académie royale de musique, 1827-1854

Madison Mainwaring

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Introduction

1During the opening night of Le Diable boiteux on 1 June 1836 at the Académie royale de Musique, the stage was set to look like the Royal Theater of Madrid with actors in chairs in the back of the theater, looking out towards the performers as if they were the spectators. The libretto indicates any number of sounds one would hear in the theater corridors: a call bell announces the imminent rise of the curtain, musicians tune their instruments, and the régisseur eventually gives a post-performance speech. The traditional courtly decorum of the ballet with its frontal, outward-looking presentation of the body as a gesture of respect and submission towards the viewer is reversed. In this case the dancers played dancers onstage, turning their backs to their real audience in order to look at their make-believe one.

  • 1 Théophile Gautier would describe the petit rat or the ballet girl in his physiological portrait in (...)

2In this, audience members in the Salle Le Peletier had the chance to look at a specular version of themselves. They “real” spectators in the Salle Le Peletier thus had the view of someone backstage if they tore a small hole in the screen in order to look at the spectacle. By virtue of this performance within a performance, the audience members were given the point of view of the voyeur, observing without being seen. According to both iconographic and textual sources of the era, this point of view was precisely that which was occupied by les petits rats and figurantes, the lowest-ranking members of the corps de ballet, who “aime à pratiquer des trous dans les toiles, à élargir les déchirures des décorations, sous prétexte de regarder la scène ou la salle, mais au fond pour le plaisir de faire du dégât.1

3The example of Le Diable boiteux serves as a case study of the mise en scène of the gaze onstage and the way in which the performance is perceived by the audience members. The insertion of a meta-performance in a dramatic work can bring attention to its consumption and appropriation as spectacle. The staging of “Pyramus and Thisbe” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for example, lends commentary to Shakespeare’s conception of the theatrical public and his relationship as playwright to them, even if this commentary is indirect. Since performance is an otherwise ephemeral medium, the mise en abyme of the représentation that enacts its own spectatorship lets us consider the spectacular apparatus in and of itself rather than the context in which it takes place. This self-referential gesture offers a chance to think about the spectacle as something more than a script or a text.

  • 2 La Revue et Gazette des théâtres, 16 mars 1845.

4We have neither the dancer nor the dance, but we do have the librettos and the accompanying musical score, both of which served as the basic plan and argument for the ballet. These librettos were frequently authored by the choreographers, the same individuals who were positioning the dancers’ bodies in relation to the spectator. They circulated amongst spectators as small booklets before, during, and after performances, available for sale in the Foyer of the Opéra. One journalist wrote that ballet audiences, befuddled by the obscurities of pantomime, paid more attention to the words on the page than the dancing: “la belle salle de l’Opéra ressemble à un cabinet de lecture où des lectures lèvent de temps en temps la tête vers les artistes.2 The reception of these texts and their fidelity to the choreography are difficult to establish in precise terms, but it seems likely that they exerted great influence on both the interpretation of the performances and the culture of spectatorship.

  • 3 Many of the characters in ballets were dancers: Zulma in La Révolte au sérail is a dancing slave; F (...)

5The Royal Theater of Madrid staged in Le Diable boiteux contains the most obvious meta-commentary of dance as spectacle. But when one examines these librettos more closely, dancing and the observation of dance by the onstage crowd appears to be a pervasive theme in librettos. The enactment of village and court dances might have been used as a justification of dance. With its abstract gestures, ballet could not lend itself to any narrative action, and thus could only be featured as itself.3 But one can also postulate that the choreographers were thinking through the creative and social possibilities of the genre and its powers to produce certain visual effects on the spectators. The witnessing of the dance within the ballet would have been the means with which they imagined the perception and reception of their art by the real audience members. In keeping with this idea, in this essay I will analyze the mise en scène of the spectator within these ballet librettos written and produced between 1827 and 1854, at the height of ballet’s popularity when it would have exerted the greatest influence on a larger visual culture.

Envisioning the ballet

  • 4 Christian Metz, “Le Signifiant Imaginaire”, Communications, 23, 1, 1975, p. 3-55, and Jean-Louis Ba (...)
  • 5 This term is frequently used in Anglophone criticism to describe the spectator’s forgetting that he (...)
  • 6 Kaja Silverman, “What is a Camera?, or: History in the Field of Vision”, Discourse, 15, 3, 1993, p. (...)

6It could be said of the audience members present at Le Diable boiteux that while looking at the backs of the dancers they were trapped in perspectival illusion, immersed in the apparatus of the medium. The dancers, playing for their false audience rather than their real one, no longer acknowledged the performativity of the performance. This integration of the spectator into the viewing apparatus would later be theorized in film theory as the “primary identification” of the viewing subject with the viewed object.4 The spectators assumed the place of those being looked at—the dancers backstage, peering past the film of gas lamp light into a sea of dark faces. But one could also say that the conspicuousness of the staging frame in a meta-performance interrupts the operative of spectacle itself. The “suspension of disbelief”5 in theater can no longer be suspended because the mechanisms that produce its fantasy become visible. According to this theory — one of suture or rupture between the spectator and the object of their gaze — an audience confronted with a reflection of themselves would engender a moment of self-recognition in which the illusions of the performance are disproven.6 It would demand a self-reflexive interrogation of the way one looks at the work of art.

  • 7 Jonathon Crary, Techniques of the Observer. Boston: MIT Press, 1990, p. 14.
  • 8 Philippe Hamon, Imageries, littérature et image au xixe siècle, Paris, Éditions José Corti, 2001, p (...)

7As has been argued by Jonathon Crary, the early part of the nineteenth century underwent a radical transformation of optics linked to the perceived crisis in the constitution of subjectivity.7 While Crary states that the camera obscura was the instrument of sight used most frequently to describe earlier visual regimes, the stereoscope followed. Displacing the singular image with two images and the real with the simulacrum of reality, the stereoscope’s effect depended on the eye’s perception of what was not there. Visual knowledge came to be embodied in the viewing subject’s body; it was faulty, even counter-factual. Philippe Hamon has further expanded this theory with his analysis of literary registers of sight, stating that in France during the first half of the nineteenth century, “l'image, installée dans la mémoire, filtre notre accès au réel lui-même […] elle n'est pas seulement objet extérieur au regard du spectateur, mais […] elle est dans le sujet regardant.8

  • 9 Jonathon Crary, Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle and Modern Culture. Cambridge: MIT (...)

8When theorizing the history of vision, its “enduring characteristic is that it has no enduring features.”9 The previous interpretive horizon, now changed, cannot be reconstituted. The optical devices and effects from this time period that remain with us now appear worn, their images faded, while they were first seen as the equivalent of Technicolor splendor. On the surface of these merchandise and their scopophilic pleasures, dance would appear to be the worst of all mediums under consideration for study. It has long been celebrated as escaping the economy of reproduction, resisting commodification because it does not endure and thus cannot be exchanged and traded. This last quality makes it all the more difficult to consider as a historian. The work of art created by the movement of the dancers’ bodies lies beyond the historical pale. It would seem paradoxical to try to outline the history of vision through the analysis of objects that have themselves been lost. But since dance as a medium took its cues strictly from the visual and corporeal, communicating per the silencing of the voice and the expression and signification of the body, the Romantic ballet can inform our understanding of this problem of imagery and subjectivity.

  • 10 La Presse, 1 juillet 1844

9While we have no conclusive evidence as to what these dances looked like, we certainly know that they were the object of the gaze. Théophile Gautier, the theater critic at La Presse and a ballet librettist himself would write: “Et comme chacun est attentif, comme toutes les lorgnettes sont braquées et pointées, non plus ces légères lorgnettes de campagne qu’on met dans la poche de son habit, mais ces grosses lorgnettes de sièges, ces jumelles monstres, ces mortiers d’optique, qui donneront de nous aux peuples de l’avenir l’idée d’une race de géants!...Chaque judas de loge...encadre un visage aux yeux brillants, au regard fixe...Une seule pensée anime la salle, tout le monde tâche de bien graver dans sa mémoire ces poses charmante.10 The pose would soon engrave itself onto the light-sensitive plates of the photograph. For now it registered in the spectator’s vision of the dancer, existing as an important choreographic category with frequent mentions in both librettos and newspaper reviews. Formed by a body that had to work in order to exist as a snapshot in the flesh, the ephemerality of the act reinforced the idea of a present disappearing fast in front of the viewer’s eyes.

  • 11 Notably according to deconstructionist philosophers who believe that “There is no outside the text” (...)
  • 12 There are three occasions in which he sees “images” of these women, and one “vision” (p. 13, 16, an (...)
  • 13 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, Trans. by Travistock. L (...)

10With some texts we can doubt the reality of the referent and whether or not there is an “outside” of the text.11 In the case of the ballet librettos, this reality exterior to the text cannot be denied. The librettos as fictions are not particularly convincing in their own right, but they depended on a vision remote from the words on the page. In La Sylphide, the libretto that would mark the beginning of the wave of ballet’s popularity, the text makes constant reference to the visual effects being enacted onstage. The hero is haunted by “images” of women “devant les yeux.” 12 At first he cannot escape the fantastical sylph; when he leaves the village, he then starts imagining the fiancée that he’s left behind. The effect of a multiplication of such images would reach its apotheosis with the crowd of corps de ballet members, all identically dressed, all replicating the same movement with the same technique. One would have seen what Michel Foucault would identify as the kaleidoscopic multiplication of the commodity. “By duplicating itself in a mirror” we no longer know “which of these images coursing through spaces are the original images.”13

  • 14 Albéric Second, Les petits mystères de l’Opéra, Paris, G. Kugelmann, 1844, p. 84.
  • 15 Ibid., p. 180.
  • 16 Journal des débats. 19 July 1843.
  • 17 Jann Matlock, “Optique-monde”, Romantisme, 2, 136, 2007, p. 43.

11What one could and could not see onstage was a subject of heightened interest at the time. Ballet was marketed as a kind of high-class soft pornography, with a particular obsession for the display of the dancer’s legs. The journalist Albéric Second recounts the binoculars used in a certain “loge maudite” on the sides of the stage that enlarged their objects thirty-two times over in the eyes of the viewer. “Grâce à ces binocles-monstres qu’on pourrait tout aussi bien appeler des monstres de binocles, pour eux le maillot est une chimère,”14 he wrote of the dancer’s costume. He would later renounce this claim by saying that the dancers “se dissimulent chastement sous un large caleçon de calico, impénétrable comme un secret d’État.”15 Jules Janin declared of Carlotta Grisi in La Péri that this is how one should undress in the middle of the stage. With her dance, she somehow made the obscene acceptable sur scène16. The eroticization of this visual culture made the Opéra lodges one of the primary places in which looking and being looked at took its ultimate spectacular form.17 The invisible powers of the female dancers— what they did not show explicitly, but intimated with the gestures of their bodies — made ballet a central focal point of the male gaze at this time.

The spectator as defined in librettos

  • 18 Théophile Gautier, “Giselle” Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets, Paris, Charpentier, 1872, p. 35 (...)
  • 19 Philippe Taglioni, La Fille du Danube, Paris, D. Jonas, 1838, p. 27.
  • 20 Théophile Gautier, Gemma. Ballet en deux actes et cinq tableaux, Paris, Michel Lèvy-Frères, 1854, p (...)
  • 21 La Presse, 1 July 1844.

12The primacy of the visual as a means of communication between the dancers on the stage is clearly defined in the librettos. Reality, the belief in it and power over it are expressed in terms of what can be seen. The male heroes see the heroines first as an apparition, a foil of the senses rather than women of the flesh. In Giselle (1841), Albert “n’ose croire à ce qu’il voit18; the same happens in La Fille du Danube (1836) when Rudolphe “n’ose en croire ses yeux,” despite the fact that these librettos came from different authors.19 In Gemma (1854), the namesake heroine must enact a series of “captivating poses” before her Massimo believes she is real.20 In these texts, vision is described as a sense that can be duped. The divide between the real and the unreal on the ballet stage is further complicated by the fact that the women perceived in such visions represented pure escapist fantasy, their characters half-human, half-beast or fairy. As Gautier would put it, “l'Opéra fut livré aux gnomes, aux ondins, aux salamandres, aux elfes, aux nixes, aux wilies, aux péris et à tout ce peuple étrange et mystérieux qui se prête si merveilleusement aux fantaisies du maître de ballet.”21

13The apprehension of the fantastical, supernatural love interest often must be doubted because it takes place with the hero alone. The crowds gather onstage for social, celebratory occasions; their presence usually sanctifies the union of a marriage. In stark contrast to the orderly rows of the corps de ballet members in the village or court, when first witnessing the love interest the hero finds himself in the woods, the river, the sea, a deserted gothic mansion, an opium-obscured Orient; in essence, an “othered” space where law and order do not hold. These are the spaces in which the love interest inevitably comes from, and where the rest of her otherworldly cohorts live, the look-alike sylphides or wilies. When Robert first sees the reanimated nuns in Robert le Diable (1831), when James first sees the sylph in La Sylphide (1832), when Albert first sees Giselle risen from the dead, when Achmet first dreams of the Péri, and when Rudolphe is confronted by the dryads in La Fille du Danube, these scenes take place with an isolated hero who must be his own eyewitness. His solitude relegates these visions to an individual, private experience; he cannot rely on anyone else to substantiate the perceived miracle.

  • 22 Théophile Gautier, “La Péri”, Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets. Paris: Charpentier, 1872, p. 3 (...)

14Indeed, a recurring trope occurs in which the love interest dies when brought into the light of the “real”— visible and politically surveyed — world. When the péri in her namesake ballet becomes a real woman, she risks being caught. Giselle flees daybreak “lui [Albert] montrant le soleil qui brille alors de tous ses feux, semble lui dire qu’elle doit obéir à son sort et le quitter pour jamais.”22 This optical regime of romance was not simply a matter of aesthetics. The dancers dancing these roles were demimondaines, most of them participating in illicit prostitution practices that were unregulated by the State. These librettos depict them as full-throttled creatures of the night. However much the gentleman-dandy might like looking at them and engaging with them casually on the side, he was advised not to bring them into the public sphere, where they would not, according to these narratives, survive.

  • 23 Roxane Martin, La Féerie Romantique, Paris, Champion, 2007, p. 141.
  • 24 Ben Singer, Melodrama and Modernity. New York, Columbia University Press, 2013, p. 131.

15Ballet at the Académie royale was inspired at this time by the aesthetic of the Boulevard theaters, where it had flourished before being appropriated by the Opera administration in 1831.23 The medium would have been implicitly associated with an elaboration of the illicit and the visual: Prior to 1791, theaters in France were under strict regulations designated by the state that prohibited dialogue at venues that were not government-sanctioned. The “popular” narratives had to employ nonverbal elements in “pantomimes dialoguées” that sometimes included dance in order to communicate to their audience.24 Language was the realm of the logical and conscious, closely monitored by the censure, while the silent body gave expression to the subliminal and the unconscious. Dance associated itself into the political per this cultural longing for freedom of expression.

The voyeur

  • 25 “Quand les Physiologies mettent en avant un type avec un instrument d'optique, cet individu devient (...)
  • 26 Susan Manning, Ecstasy and the Demon: The Dances of Mary Wigman, Saint Paul, University of Minnesot (...)

16Between the idealized fantasy and social reality one occasionally finds an uninvited and illicit observer: that of the voyeur. While the spectacle of the spectators was a common image of representation — taking up a pair of binoculars in the theater lodge gave an implicit invitation to be stared at25 — here the politics of hidden surveillance are rendered different. In the instances in which voyeurs play a narrative role, their characters are mocked and laughed at when they communicate what they have seen, even when what they say would appear to be true. Their treatment never seems to be quite fair. They act as a foil to the hero, a character in these contexts acknowledged in the scenarios as fickle and caddish. Yet the librettos still celebrate the hero’s union with the female love interest and mourn their separation,26 as indicated by the corresponding major and minor chords in the music. The viewing position of the spectator thus inevitably aligns with the hero.

  • 27 Annie Ubersfield, Lire le théâtre, Tome II, Paris, Belin, 2001, p. 83.
  • 28 Janet Fulcher, Le grand opera en France. Un art politique 1820-1870, Paris, Belin, 1988, p. 54. Als (...)

17The voyeur’s role is that of the critic who illustrates that the two distinct spaces of day and night, civilization and wilderness, cannot coexist.27 Moving between the two realms unobserved and thus freely, these voyeur figures are characterized as traitors, presumably because they present a narrative conflict to the hero, and by extension the male spectator in the theater. They seem to be held culpable for their role in dissipating the dream of the women. Their actions of spying in order to survey and control were also undoubtedly aligned with those of the police censor, who was present in Le Peletier at the time.28 Foucault’s distinct opposition of spectacle as opposed to surveillance has prevented major consideration of these two regimes in relationship to each other; these librettos suggest that they not only operated simultaneously, but as subversive and almost perverted complements of each other.

18The shift in optical perspectives that Crary describes might also be related to the lack of sympathy given to the voyeurs in the librettos, and the refusal to understand the story through their eyes. In the case of the camera obscura employed as a metaphor for vision in the previous century, the apparatus and the observer are two distinct entities. The perspective of the observer exists independently from the optical device that is a physical piece of technical equipment. The apparatus allowed the viewer to be everywhere and nowhere at once, fostering the illusion of the spectator’s freedom with a certain degree of physical mobility within the dark room. The shift to physiological, embodied vision meant that sight was trapped in a singular body and the sensual information it delivered. One would have to conduct a comparative study of librettos from previous time periods in order to make a firm conclusion, but in any case the narrative aligns itself with Crary’s hypothesis. Audience members are told to see through the eyes of the hero and no one else.

19In this context the voyeur figures frequently as interloper and witness to the otherwise private love affair. His presence also indicates a heightened interest in that which constituted normative vision. While the voyeur is hidden from plain sight, the performers, including the hero and heroine, were often hidden from each other, adopting a variety of guises and postures belying their true identity. The visionary nature of the dancing was emphasized by the fact that it recounted activities and emotional states that could not be directly, explicitly represented, with the female characters signifying an idealized and eroticized world. To see them, to capture them in the line of sight, depended on the faulty perception of those looking on.

  • 29 Théophile Gautier, “Giselle.” Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets, Paris, Charpentier, 1872, p. 3 (...)
  • 30 Ibid., p. 346.
  • 31 Henri de Saint-Georges, and Joseph Mazilier, “Le Diable Amoureux. Ballet-Pantomime en trois actes e (...)
  • 32 Théophile Gautier, “Lettre à Henri Heine”, 5 juillet 1841, Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets, P (...)

20The language used in the librettos indicates a search for truth, a revelation, by a means of illumination. The reveal of the voyeur or the character in disguise is often made by the call to look. “Voyez vous-mêmes” cries Hilarion as he reveals the false identity of Albert, “découvrant aux yeux des villageois.”29 Giselle goes mad through dance when she “a tout vu.”30 The same language describing sight as proof or truth would recur in Le Diable Amoureux: When the demon falls in love with her charge only to see him with another woman, we’re told that “Urielle [the demon] a tout vu.”31 Anagnorisis in ballet is represented as visual discovery. It could not, given its physical, nonverbal nature, be otherwise. As Gautier would say in writing to Heinrich Heine about ballet, “N’en demandez pas plus…du ballet, qui ne saurait préciser un nom de ville ou de pays avec le geste, qui est sa seule parole.”32

  • 33 Henri de Saint-Georges, and Joseph Mazilier, “Le Diable Amoureux”, op. cit., p. 19.
  • 34 Théophile Gautier, “La Péri”, Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets, Paris, Charpentier, 1872, p. 3 (...)
  • 35 Ibid., p. 386.

21But these visions in their totality likewise engender reasons to mistrust the senses and the world as it presents itself. When Urielle proceeds to change into a young boy, “Frédéric surpris ne sait que croire en le voyant.”33 In La Péri, Achmet does not believe in the verity of the péri’s existence. She is the stuff of “Visions! chimères!” he is told by his slave. “La fée est sortie de la fumée de votre pipe. C’est l’effet de l’opium.”34 These bodies, shape-shifting and literally changing shape in their movement, are used to render the dance as an external correlate of unbridled fantasy. The “oasis fantastique” which frequently comes to “rayonne au fond du théâtre” at the end of the performance was created by the “légèreté” of the dancers.35 They indicate the boundaries and constraints of such, testing the edges of normative vision with visual trickery and presentation; hence the cottage industry of reports from the coulisses taking apart the mechanisms of such illusions.

Dancers as spectators

  • 36 Théophile Gautier, “Giselle”, Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets, Paris Charpentier, 1872, p. 35 (...)
  • 37 Ibid., p. 353.
  • 38 Ibid., p. 385.
  • 39 Théophile Gautier, “La Péri”, op. cit., p. 386.
  • 40 Debra H Sowell, “Contextualizing Madge’s Scarf: The Pas de Schall as Romantic Convention”, ‘La Sylp (...)
  • 41 Eugène Scribe, Manon Lescaut. Ballet-Pantomime en trois actes, Paris, Bezou, 1830, p. 15.

22In this perceived field of vision, the female dancers themselves would appear to be the ones that held the greatest power. The librettos describe them as producing the physical trace and frame of a hallucinatory effect. To the hero, they seem “l’appeler du regard,” to “l’empire d’une douce illusion,” a pretense in which they themselves are complicit.36 They arrest the hero in his tracks. He is “forcé être témoin,” while the dancers “les enlacent et les fascinent par leurs poses voluptueuses.”37 They are said to “franchissent la limite qui sépare le monde idéal du monde réel,”38 guardians at the threshold to another world. In this position the dancers seem to be arguing for their own verisimilitude. The hero in La Fille du Danube must “repousser les premières qui s’offrent à ses regards.”39 In Le Dieu et la Bayadère, the corps de ballet members drape themselves around themselves, encircling the heroine while creating various tableaux; a stranger (the “Mysterious Unknown,” the lover interest) looks on.40 Manon Lescaut is characterized by her striking inability to attract such attention; while the marquis “adressent leurs hommages aux deux dames et leur font compliment sur la manière dont elles ont dansé le soir à l’Opéra,” she is “gauche, maladroite et ne peut en venir à bout.”41

  • 42 Louis Marin, “Le Présent dans la Présence”, L’Instant Rêvé, Nîmes, Éditions Jacqueline Chambon, 199 (...)

23These guises were presentational techniques of self-fashioning. The dancers served as their own frames, eliciting, controlling, and occasionally deflecting the gaze vis-à-vis a technique that was learned and subsequently reproduced by many bodies. According to the librettos, they are given great visual and thus narrative power. The graceful execution of the ballet meant that in performance the dancers had to deny the means of the dance’s production with their bodies; their effort, their labor and pain, their subjectivity is invisible to the eye of the observer. In the difference between their perspective and that of the spectators, one finds that which Louis Marin has defined as the distinction between “l’effet de l’instant, unité minimale du temps, et de conduire le ‘faire image’ à son contrôle esthétique,” as opposed to “un instant, par son seul coup d’œil, ses puissances de saisie en saisissement, et sa force de clairvoyance en choc d’éblouissement.”42 The making of the image in dance would be determined by such an instantaneous image formed in the eyes of the spectators.

  • 43 Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility”, Walter Benjamin (...)
  • 44 In her discussion of ballet, medicine and psychoanalysis, Felicia McCarren interrogates this possib (...)

24In theorizing the effects of mechanical production, Walter Benjamin would define the aura of the work of art as its ability to look back.43 As both the artists and the work of art, the dancers’ bodies were visual commodities reproducible with technique. One wonders what kind of agency the dancers would have had — if they were or were not looking back. Part of their success as dancers depended on their internalization of the audience’s exterior gaze; they needed to know what the choreography looked like in order to deliver it successfully as spectacle. Perhaps this erased their agency as observing subjects44. But they still must have looked out into the dark through the spotlights. They were paid in terms of these spotlights, how much they exposed themselves to the gaze of the audience in the glow onstage. “Feux” their payments were called, based on the number of times they made appearances between the curtains. This light would subsume them figuratively in the librettos; so many would end in a wash of white, radiant sunlight. If it subsumed them figuratively, it consumed them literally in performance. Many of them would end up dying after their gauze dresses would catch fire from the gas lamps, an overexposure of the body that would burn too bright.

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Notes

1 Théophile Gautier would describe the petit rat or the ballet girl in his physiological portrait in these terms. Théophile Gautier, Les Français peints par eux-mêmes : encyclopédie morale du 19e siècle, tome 3, Paris, L. Curmer, 1841, p. 250.

2 La Revue et Gazette des théâtres, 16 mars 1845.

3 Many of the characters in ballets were dancers: Zulma in La Révolte au sérail is a dancing slave; Florinde in Le Diable boiteux is a professional ballerina at the Madrid opera house; Beatrix in La Jolie Fille de Gande takes dancing lessons and attends balls; Diana in the same ballet is the premiere danseuse at La Fenice in Venice. If they were not, they likewise tended to be supernatural characters who could dance without destroying the audience’s sense of illusion.

4 Christian Metz, “Le Signifiant Imaginaire”, Communications, 23, 1, 1975, p. 3-55, and Jean-Louis Baudry, “Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus”, Film Quarterly, 28, 2, 1974-1975, p. 39-47.

5 This term is frequently used in Anglophone criticism to describe the spectator’s forgetting that he or she is in the theater. Samuel Coleridge would define the necessity of such while theorizing the Romantic sensibility: “My endeavors should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith”. Samuel Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 1817, Chapter XIV, http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Etexts/biographia.html. Accessed 3 March 2017. My italics.

6 Kaja Silverman, “What is a Camera?, or: History in the Field of Vision”, Discourse, 15, 3, 1993, p. 5.

7 Jonathon Crary, Techniques of the Observer. Boston: MIT Press, 1990, p. 14.

8 Philippe Hamon, Imageries, littérature et image au xixe siècle, Paris, Éditions José Corti, 2001, p. 27.

9 Jonathon Crary, Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle and Modern Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999, p. 13.

10 La Presse, 1 juillet 1844

11 Notably according to deconstructionist philosophers who believe that “There is no outside the text”. Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, Trans. Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976, p. 158-159.

12 There are three occasions in which he sees “images” of these women, and one “vision” (p. 13, 16, and 26). His inability to distinguish between a real woman and a false one leads to his ultimate demise, when he trusts the sylph even while telling her that “Tu n’es qu’une ombre vaine qui cherche à tromper mes sens.” Philippe Taglioni, La Sylphide, ballet en deux actes, Paris, J.N. Barba, 1832.

13 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, Trans. by Travistock. London: Routledge, 1989, p. 18-19.

14 Albéric Second, Les petits mystères de l’Opéra, Paris, G. Kugelmann, 1844, p. 84.

15 Ibid., p. 180.

16 Journal des débats. 19 July 1843.

17 Jann Matlock, “Optique-monde”, Romantisme, 2, 136, 2007, p. 43.

18 Théophile Gautier, “Giselle” Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets, Paris, Charpentier, 1872, p. 355.

19 Philippe Taglioni, La Fille du Danube, Paris, D. Jonas, 1838, p. 27.

20 Théophile Gautier, Gemma. Ballet en deux actes et cinq tableaux, Paris, Michel Lèvy-Frères, 1854, p. 11.

21 La Presse, 1 July 1844.

22 Théophile Gautier, “La Péri”, Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets. Paris: Charpentier, 1872, p. 362.

23 Roxane Martin, La Féerie Romantique, Paris, Champion, 2007, p. 141.

24 Ben Singer, Melodrama and Modernity. New York, Columbia University Press, 2013, p. 131.

25 “Quand les Physiologies mettent en avant un type avec un instrument d'optique, cet individu devient vite spectacle”. Jann Matlock, “Optique-monde”, Romantisme, 2, 136, 2007, p. 43.

26 Susan Manning, Ecstasy and the Demon: The Dances of Mary Wigman, Saint Paul, University of Minnesota Press, 2006, p. 32.

27 Annie Ubersfield, Lire le théâtre, Tome II, Paris, Belin, 2001, p. 83.

28 Janet Fulcher, Le grand opera en France. Un art politique 1820-1870, Paris, Belin, 1988, p. 54. Also see the livres de comptabilité in which the fees for municipal guards and firemen are carefully noted for each performance (47 francs for the former, 57.40 for the latter). Archives de l’Opéra de Paris VI, Comptabilité I, recettes 1, recettes à la porte : 3 déc. 1838-31 mai 1839 CO 63 SR 97/3041.

29 Théophile Gautier, “Giselle.” Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets, Paris, Charpentier, 1872, p. 345.

30 Ibid., p. 346.

31 Henri de Saint-Georges, and Joseph Mazilier, “Le Diable Amoureux. Ballet-Pantomime en trois actes et six tableaux”, Bordeaux, 1844, p. 18.

32 Théophile Gautier, “Lettre à Henri Heine”, 5 juillet 1841, Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets, Paris, Charpentier, 1872, p. 369.

33 Henri de Saint-Georges, and Joseph Mazilier, “Le Diable Amoureux”, op. cit., p. 19.

34 Théophile Gautier, “La Péri”, Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets, Paris, Charpentier, 1872, p. 387.

35 Ibid., p. 386.

36 Théophile Gautier, “Giselle”, Théâtre. Mystère, Comédies et Ballets, Paris Charpentier, 1872, p. 355.

37 Ibid., p. 353.

38 Ibid., p. 385.

39 Théophile Gautier, “La Péri”, op. cit., p. 386.

40 Debra H Sowell, “Contextualizing Madge’s Scarf: The Pas de Schall as Romantic Convention”, ‘La Sylphide’, Paris 1832 and Beyond, London, Dance Books, 2012, p. 25.

41 Eugène Scribe, Manon Lescaut. Ballet-Pantomime en trois actes, Paris, Bezou, 1830, p. 15.

42 Louis Marin, “Le Présent dans la Présence”, L’Instant Rêvé, Nîmes, Éditions Jacqueline Chambon, 1993, p. 17.

43 Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility”, Walter Benjamin Selected Writings. Ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings, Trans. Howard Eiland, and Others Edmund Jephcott, Vol. 3. Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002, p. 59.

44 In her discussion of ballet, medicine and psychoanalysis, Felicia McCarren interrogates this possibility of the “erasure” of the dancer’s inner eye. Felicia McCarren, Dancing Pathologies: Performance, Poetics, Medicine, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1998, p. 101.

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Madison Mainwaring, « Speculating the Spectator: Dance and the Mise en scène of the Gaze at the Académie royale de musique, 1827-1854 », Les Dossiers du Grihl [En ligne], 2018-01 | 2018, mis en ligne le 09 février 2018, consulté le 25 février 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/dossiersgrihl/6942 ; DOI : 10.4000/dossiersgrihl.6942

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