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Le Sens des formes dans l’Europe d’Ancien Régime
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Rethinking Burlesque Forms in Louis XIII ballets: Dance, Music, and Politics in Burlesque ballets, 1625-1635

Repenser les formes burlesques: danse, musique et politique dans les ballets burlesques sous Louis XIII (1625-1635)
Rose Pruiksma

Résumés

Il est d’usage de penser que les ballets burlesques dansés à la cour de Louis XIII offraient un espace où la résistance de la noblesse à la monarchie absolue de Louis XIII et de son premier ministre Richelieu pouvait s’exprimer. Un examen plus attentif du contexte historique et des identités des nobles danseurs ayant participé à certains des ballets burlesques les plus somptueux dansés à la cour par le roi et des groupes choisis de nobles permet de repenser les enjeux politiques et le sens des spectacles burlesques en prenant en compte les canaux par lesquels le burlesque s’est développé à la cour et dans les institutions et pratiques culturelles de la noblesse. En France, le registre et le style burlesque peuvent être situés dans le contexte de la culture littéraire libertine et de son intersection avec les nobles qui naviguaient entre les cercles mondains et courtisans du premier dix-septième siècle. Les somptueux ballets burlesques produits à la cour entre 1625 et 1635 impliquaient des membres de la noblesse soigneusement choisis qui dansaient avec le roi, leurs pairs, et des danseurs professionnels. Même un rapide examen de trois ballets de cette période – Fées des forêts de Saint-Germain, Grand bal de la Douairière de Billebahaut et le Ballet des Triomphes – montre que les courtisans qui organisaient ces ballets royaux étaient parfaitement conscients des tensions existant entre différentes factions ; la répartition des rôles, les livrets des ballets et leurs paratextes suggère que ces ballets étaient le lieu de l’affirmation continue, subtile mais cohérente, du pouvoir et des prérogatives royales, même sous l’apparence du jeu et de la récréation.

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  • 1 These include Paul LaCroix (ed.), Ballets et mascarades de cour de Henri III à Louis XIV (1581-1652 (...)
  • 2 Cross-cast roles were common in court ballet; in ballets that featured the queen or royal princesse (...)

1The traces of royal and noble performance in court ballets during the reign of Louis XIII (1610-1643) provide a tantalising window into power, politics, and social networks in the French court and the ways these collaborative spectacles represented, produced, disrupted, and renegotiated power dynamics at court. From the costly, magnificent Ballet de Madame (1615) danced by Élisabeth de Bourbon before her marriage to the future Philip IV of Spain, to the Délivrance de Rénaud (1617) featuring Louis XIII as a fire demon and as crusader Godefroy de Bouillon, to the more varied, often comical or satirical ballets produced at court and elsewhere during the 1620s-1630s, court ballets functioned on multiple levels. They served as vehicles for royal and/or noble performance, whether featuring the queen dancing with court ladies or the king alongside court nobles, but they also provided space for satiric and comic performances at court, and opportunities for less formal interactions among the dancing nobles in rehearsal settings. Scholars have recognised these comical, satirical ballets as a seemingly new development in court spectacle that became particularly prominent in the 1620s, but they have diverged on how to understand and interpret them although they generally agree on the defining formal and thematic characteristics of such ballets and on the “burlesque” label.1 Most of these ballets are made up of a series of loosely connected entries without much dramatic coherence; the subjects are often fantastical, satirical, or comic, and may involve bawdy conceits (as in the Rabelaisian Ballet d’Andouilles of 1628); they feature whimsical, grotesque costumes that sometimes altered the outward physical form of the dancer or restricted the dancer’s movements; and the female roles were performed by cross-cast male dancers (although this was also true for female roles in serious ballets performed by the king and noblemen).2

  • 3 L’Art du ballet de cour, op. cit., p. 133-153.
  • 4 Ibid. See also Margaret McGowan, “Ballets for the Bourgeois,” Dance Research, 19.2, 2001, p. 106-12 (...)

2These burlesque ballets do not fit neatly into modern ideas of the glorification of the image of the absolute monarch, and yet the best documented of these were produced at court and included the king, members of the royal family, and court nobility among the dancers and sponsors. Their existence at the center of French political and cultural power invites questions regarding their function within court culture. How do they fit with the political readings of court ballet? What are the politics of such ballets? How were these ballets understood and received by their original audiences? Are these ballets evidence of the reversals and play of the Bakhtinian carnivalesque, or, because they come from within court culture, are they always only an imitation of the true carnivalesque rooted in the practices of the lower classes? How should the monarch’s dancing of roles that seem to contradict his royal dignity – female roles, lower class roles, comic roles, non-Christian roles – be understood? What did it mean for court nobles to dance such roles, either on their own, or alongside their monarch? How were the professional dancers and their performances viewed? In her foundational 1963 book on Louis XIII ballets, dance historian Margaret McGowan categorised the turn to the burlesque as marking the inclusion of bourgeois audiences and tastes, with ballet performances at the Hôtel de Ville.3 She argued that concurrent changes in the dance, from ballets focused on geometrical figures to ballets with more pantomimic entries, most likely resulted from changes in performance spaces and contexts – theatrical stages and rooms in private homes – and that the dances had little to do with politics.4

  • 5 Franko, op. cit., especially p. 63-107.
  • 6 Ibid., p. 66.
  • 7 Ibid., p. 71 and p.77. Franko asserts “The political satire of burlesque ballet should be considere (...)
  • 8 Ibid., p. 10.

3No single text has been more influential in its framing of burlesque ballet, contra McGowan, as highly political performances than Mark Franko’s Dance as Text: Technologies of the Baroque Body (1993).5 Coming thirty years after McGowan’s study, Franko’s book makes the case that the burlesque ballets of the 1620s manifested a political erotics in which the audience figured as a feminised body politic for which male nobility performed, “appropriat[ing] carnival for their own purposes….”6 For Franko, the ballet elements he identifies as burlesque – a focus on transitional movement rather than geometric figures, cross-dressed roles, overt invocation of bodily functions in some of the poetic texts, grotesque costumes, reversals, self-satire, and caricature – challenged official culture and can be understood as manifesting resistance to and contestation of the prevailing Absolutist political order, “a surrogate outlet for political contestation.”7 Thus, burlesque ballet manifests resistance and ideological subversion that collapse into “compliance, with the dominant ideology.”8 Despite affirming the inevitable acquiescence of the nobility to royal power and prerogative, Franko privileges the potential for contestation in these ballets based on the bodily autonomy of the (noble) dancers:

  • 9 Ibid.

The most potent, and yet unfocused, resistance to the centralized power of the monarch resides in the disponibilité of burlesque dance rather than in its satiric barbs.9

  • 10 Ibid., p. 131-132.

4At the same time, Franko acknowledges that the opposition and resistance he identifies in these ballets never fully contest the structures of royal power, although he argues that the physicality of dance and the audience’s experience of court ballets created a space where “[p]ower itself is negotiated by performing bodies.”10 The fact that Louis XIII himself danced “burlesque” roles, then, would, one might expect, have been of particular interest and central to a study of these negotiations.

  • 11 Sharon Kettering, “Strategies of Power: Favorites and Women Household Clients at Louis XIII’s Court (...)
  • 12 Mark Franko, “The King Cross-dressed: Power and Force in Royal Ballets,” in Sara E. Melzer and Kath (...)
  • 13 Laurie Nussdorfer, “Review of Dance as Text: Technologies of the Baroque Body,Dance Research Jour (...)

5While Franko’s work renewed interest in these fascinating ballets, and his assertion that audiences (and performers) experienced burlesque ballet performances as powerful, embodied events with political resonance remains an important contribution, his theorising of the burlesque as “the affirmation of pure dissent” and his examination of the sources need rethinking, especially in light of Louis XIII’s own performances in this mode. This essay’s rethinking of Franko’s “burlesque” targets three key aspects of his theories of burlesque ballet: his discussion of the term “burlesque” and his equation of the burlesque with libertine literature of the 1620s; his use of the text sources, in particular, an indiscriminate slippage among the different types of poetic texts in ballet livrets (vers pour les personnages, récits, and cartel poetry) in support of his theorising; and the question of the politics of burlesque ballet as performative opposition to or critique of the monarchy or absolutism through language of erotic submission, especially when the king himself performed and in light of the work of historians who study both the nobility in seventeenth-century France and the gradual formation of a more centralized French state with a theoretically Absolute monarchy.11 Franko’s later, widely-cited discussions of the king’s ballet performances, especially in a supposed cross-cast role, build on a fundamental misreading of the sources for the 1615 Ballet de Madame, a ballet that Louis watched from the audience, but did not dance in.12 Furthermore, as even some of his reviewers have noted, Franko’s arguments regarding the politics of burlesque ballet lack engagement with key resources for the era’s social and political history and there are numerous small errors in historical detail.13 Franko’s theorising is seductive, but it rests on faulty underpinnings.

  • 14 Marie-Claude Canova-Green, Ballets pour Louis XIII: Danse et politique à la cour de France (1610-16 (...)

6This essay begins the work of rethinking the burlesque in court ballet as it has been framed since Franko.14 After a brief overview of the use of the term in the seventeenth century and its much later application to Louis XIII-era court ballets, I will focus on three court ballets where Louis XIII himself danced a variety of burlesque characters alongside his nobles and professional dancers and suggest approaches for exploring how these works functioned within the social and political networks at court. The first two of these ballets come from the mid 1620s and are always among the ballets labeled as “burlesque”; the third comes from 1635 and usually is discussed as a political ballet, although it shares many of the characteristics of the earlier two. To explore how performances of these comic, grotesque ballets functioned as both divertissement and political theater, it is helpful to attend to the identities of the noble dancers, to take into account the participation of professional dancers, and to address the internal and external politics and challenges that the French monarchy faced during this period. Surviving livrets, verse fragments, costume drawings, music, and descriptions of performances indicate that these ballets were intended to evoke laughter. With the king himself dancing, set in motion by the sometimes irregular cadences and sudden metrical changes of the music, or visibly watching in the audience, and with members of his court dancing in roles assigned by the ballet’s organisers, ballets performed at court, whether serious or satirically comic, always conveyed multiple meanings.

Burlesque in seventeenth-century usage

  • 15 M-C. Canova-Green, Ballets burlesques, op. cit., p. viii-xiii. Pierre Gatulle, “Jeux, musique et ba (...)
  • 16 Ibid., p. ix-xiii. Canova-Green quotes de Pure, Idée des spectacles anciens et nouveaux, Paris, 166 (...)

7In order to rethink the ways the term “burlesque” has been deployed and understood in the study of court ballet, it is useful to first return to the term’s seventeenth-century context and meanings, especially since there is no evidence of court ballets having been described as “burlesque” at the time of their creation. As Marie-Claude Canova-Green has shown, “grotesque” is a more period-appropriate descriptor for these ballets: what modern scholars have labeled as “burlesque,” seventeenth-century sources called grotesque, when they applied such labels.15 Both terms share Italian origins and associations with a satirical, comic register that had the potential to transgress the norms of honnêteté, but the degree and nature of transgression and what was being transgressed is not always clear or even the same across the later body of literary works that included “burlesque” in their published titles or subtitles. Until 1668, when Michel de Pure described some ballet entrées as “extravagantes et burlesques,” the term was used primarily to describe literary works published between the 1640s-1660s.16

  • 17 Claudine Nédélec, “Le burlesque au grand siècle: une esthétique marginale?” Dix-septième siècle, 22 (...)
  • 18 Antoine Furetière, Dictionnaire universel, The Hague and Rotterdam, 1690, “BURLESQUE, adj. m. & f. (...)
  • 19 Ibid. “quite modern”; Furetière came of age in the 1640s and authored several burlesque texts, incl (...)
  • 20 The Gallica catalog of digitized items returns 401 hits where burlesque is either in the title or t (...)
  • 21 J. DeJean, op. cit. and The Reinvention of Obscenity: Sex, Lies, and Tabloids in Early Modern Franc (...)

8In mid-seventeenth-century France, “burlesque” described both a literary register and a poetic style that included neologisms; a humorous approach to the subject matter; a mixture of styles, registers, and genres; and often, when expressed in verse, regular, metrical rhymed couplets.17 It was applied to a range of texts from “travesty” translations of classical texts such as Virgil’s Aeneid or Ovid’s Metamorphoses, to burlesque verse newsletters, or, between 1649-1653, to the satirical anti-Mazarin pamphlets that proliferated during the various uprisings of the Frondes known collectively as Mazarinades. In his 1690 Dictionniare universel Furetière defines “burlesque” as: “[p]laisant, gaillard, tirant sur le ridicule,”18 and then informs the reader that it is “assez moderne” and came into the French language from Italy.19 A brief survey of digitised works in the Bibliothèque nationale and the ARTFL database confirms that in the seventeenth century “burlesque” appears most frequently in titles published in the 1640s-early 1660s.20 Authors who described their work as burlesque or who accepted this designation of their work included Paul Scarron, Jean Loret, Antoine Furetière, and Charles Coypeau Dassoucy. The term implied both satirical and humorous content that could also include criticism of political figures, such as Cardinal Mazarin. Travestied burlesque texts could be understood as potentially subversive or transgressive, in as much as they treated standard classical texts irreverently and often playfully highlighted sexual innuendo in much the same way that the somewhat earlier libertine authors of the 1620s such as Théophile de Viau, Guillaume Colletet, Saint-Amant, Tristan L’Hermite, and the Sieur de Sigogne had done in their satirical poetry.21 The Mazarinades deployed burlesque verse to convey resistance to Cardinal Mazarin, while Jean Loret’s newsy letters in burlesque verse, addressed to his patron Marie d’Orléans-Longueville, repackaged events and information from the weekly Gazette de France into clever rhymed couplets intended to entertain his patron and her literary friends. Whether delivering a scatological, biting, satirical critique of a government minister or wryly humorous accounts of the daily news or the clever vers pour les personnages for court ballets that commented on both the role and the dancer portraying it, one of burlesque verse’s aims was laughter.

  • 22 Charlotte Coffin, “Burlesque or Neoplatonic? Popular or elite? The shifting Value of Classical Myth (...)
  • 23 M-C. Canova-Green, Ballets burlesques, op cit., p. 20-21: Among these poets were Théophile, Saint-A (...)
  • 24 C. Nédélec, op. cit., p. 440-441; and Jean Leclerc, L’antiquité travestie et la vogue du burlesque (...)
  • 25 C. Nédélec, ibid., p. 439, 440.

9While the term was not used to describe either ballets or literature in the 1620s and 1630s, characteristics associated with the burlesque literary works from the 1640s-1660s are nonetheless already apparent in these earlier works.22 The satirical poetry collections published by libertine writers in the early years of the seventeenth century – La muse gaillarde (1609), Le Cabinet satyrique (1618), Les Delices satyriques (1620), Le parnasse satyrique (1622) – preceded the production of satirical, comical, grotesque court ballets that dominated at court during the 1620s and 1630s. Both the literature and the ballets emerged within elite society at the intersection of the mondain and court nobility. Libertine authors associated with each other in social and intellectual settings and shared noble patrons such as the duc de Candale, Roger du Plessis-Liancourt, the duc de Montmorency, and Gaston d’Orléans. Their published and manuscript work within their networks formed part of the cultural context in which both serious and comic court ballets were created and performed. Indeed, several contributing poets for burlesque ballets had connections to or were part of libertine literary circles during this period, and in at least one instance collaborated in contributing vers pour les personnages for the Ballet des Bacchanales danced by the king in February of 1623.23 As both Claudine Nédélec and Jean Leclerc have shown, the burlesque existed at the center of the âge classique.24 This applies as well to burlesque ballets, works created and performed at the court by the most powerful members of the second estate, the king and his nobles, with the assistance of many, often unnamed, professionals. If the burlesque “helps sometimes to support the system, sometimes to confirm it, and sometimes to help it change or develop,” it also has the ability, through its capacity to provoke laughter, to deflate political figures, but always with plausible deniability.25 The question becomes, how much, if any, dissent did the burlesque ballets convey, and were they read and experienced the same way by the participants and the audience members? Were the libertine poetry collections and burlesque ballets that circulated in the 1620s aimed at undermining the monarchy itself from the outside and fomenting open rebellion, or did they function more as a safety valve, providing a forum for the veiled expression of dissent in the form of mockery, or even serving as a tool of the state? What can we reasonably conclude based on the surviving sources, placed in historical context?

Burlesque ballet, politics, and political disorder in Louis XIII’s France

  • 26 Amanda Eubanks Winkler’s work, including her residencies and performance workshops at the Globe and (...)
  • 27 Two costume drawing albums, one possibly copied from the other, or from another source, are held by (...)
  • 28 For example, in M. Franko, Dance as Text, op. cit., p. 81, 89, 95 Franko identifies texts as récits (...)
  • 29 Ibid., and Alison Calhoun, “The Court Turned Inside out: The Collapse of dignity in Louis XIII’s bu (...)

10The always fragmentary ballet sources offer elusive hints of performances, but even the most complete records of these ballets leave interpretive gaps.26 Printed livrets distributed at and sold after performances contain different kinds of poetry – sung récits; vers pour les personnages directed at specific, usually noble, performers in their roles; and epigrams and poems from cartels also directed at specific nobles but usually distributed separately to audience members during a performance – and sometimes prose descriptions of the ballet scenario or individual entries. These offer only partial information about who danced and what happened on stage. Manuscript instrumental dance music and printed and manuscript vocal music likewise offer only a sketch of what the performance sounded like, and surviving drawings and sketches for costumes and sets capture the dancers frozen in motion, although the working drawings may specify names of professional dancers alongside the nobles and specific details about fabrics and colors.27 There is no formal choreographic record from these ballets. The state of the sources has led to a privileging of the textual sources that sometimes treats vers pour les personnages and the cartel verses as if they were récits.28 The vers pour les personnages and the cartel verses, even if they were written in the character’s voice, were read by the spectators possibly during, but also after, the performance. They may be helpful in identifying a dancer and offer some inside references about him, but they do not reveal much about the dance itself, nor do they serve as a literal key to the ballet, which is often how they are read.29 Unlike the récits which were heard as part of the ballet’s performance, these verses supplied a meta-discourse about the court, with gossip and innuendo nestled alongside conventional conceits about power and love. These can reveal important information about the dancers, but they were not central to the performance as experienced in real time.

Historical context and burlesque ballet

  • 30 A. Lloyd Moote, Louis XIII, the Just, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1989, p. 82-100 des (...)
  • 31 David Parrott, Richelieu’s Army: War, Government and Society in France, 1624-1642, Cambridge, Cambr (...)
  • 32 A.L. Moote, op. cit., p. 134-135 and p. 179-183 and Jean-François Dubost and Marylou Nguyen Hoang P (...)

11Even with a close reading of the available performance sources, the politics of burlesque ballet are not always obvious, in large part because the context for these ballets was ever shifting. From the inaugural jolt of Henry IV’s assassination through France’s participation in the Thirty Years War at the end, Louis XIII’s reign was politically turbulent. Marie de Médicis’s regency was unpopular, and resentment of her Italian-born prime minister Concino Concini led to his execution and Marie’s first exile from court, imposed by her sixteen-year old son.30 Louis inherited a kingdom plagued by ongoing tensions between Huguenot and Catholic nobles, and his first military experiences were in combat against Huguenot nobles in the south of France under the leadership of the duc de Rohan and his younger brother the duc de Soubise, a conflict that only ended with the brutal siege of La Rochelle in 1628-1629. During this same period, Louis and his ministers were also dealing with a contested alpine pass between northern Italy and Switzerland, the Valteline, which the Spanish wanted control of to expedite movements of troops and supplies for their campaigns in the Thirty Years War. France and several northern Italian states (Venice and Milan) sought to block Spanish access, with Papal intervention providing an unsatisfactory resolution.31 Various factions at court favored alliance with Spain and more harsh treatment of the Huguenots, while others, including the more Gallican-oriented Catholics, favored alliances with various Protestant powers in opposition to Hapsburg power and influence, and the reining in of Huguenot power while also upholding Henry IV’s Edict of Nantes. The anti-Hapsburg faction eventually prevailed, and France entered the Thirty Years War in May of 1635 with a declaration of war against Spain, forming alliances with Sweden and the United Provinces.32

  • 33 Pierre Gatulle, “La grande cabale de Gaston d’Orléans aux Pays-Bas espagnols et en Lorraine : le pr (...)
  • 34 J. M. Smith, op. cit., p. 93-123.

12Further internal unrest and stress on the monarchy resulted from the failure of Louis and his queen, Anne of Austria, married in 1615, to produce a male heir, or any living child, during the first twenty years of their marriage. This left Louis’s brother Gaston as heir to the throne; aided and abetted by their mother he became a focal point for disorder.33 When he became a close advisor to Louis XIII in August of 1624, Cardinal Richelieu began the slow process of laying the groundwork for a more centralised, absolute monarchy in France that was always more successful in theory and in propaganda than in actual practice. Despite this powershift, the nobility continued the jockeying for power, position, and access to the king that runs throughout the reign of Louis XIII, although by the 1630s, it was clear that access and favor for most involved connections to Richelieu and his vast patronage network.34 The consequences for resisting Richelieu and the king could be mortal (at least if one was not the heir to the throne). Nonetheless Louis’s brother and those who supported him plotted, without success, against Richelieu from the 1620s through Richelieu’s death in 1642. Among the high-ranking nobility who lost their freedom and their lives due to such plotting were the king’s half-brother, Alexandre de Vendôme, the comte de Soissons, the duc de Puylaurens, the comte de Chalais, and the duc de Montmorency. Each danced in at least one burlesque court ballet produced under the guidance of the king and his artistic advisors and collaborators during this period. Some of the roles assigned to these individuals and the king’s brother, included roles such as that of a Sultanne (cross-cast), and of an “African,” a “Follet” or “Feu Follet” ( Will-o’-the-wisp, a malign, disruptive spirit), and a “Demi-fou” (half-fool), or a guitar-playing refugee. But these roles are no more burlesque than those danced by the king himself in these same ballets – as a Valiant Combatant, a Learned Persian, a guitar-playing “Chaconiste espagnol,” a guitar-playing refugee, or a Lady of Honor.

  • 35 Ballet des fées, ed. cit., assembles all of these sources and includes a series of informative essa (...)

13A brief exploration of the lavish, comic and fantastical ballets from 1625 and 1626 both organised by Henri of Savoy, Duke of Nemours – the 1625 Fées des forêts de Saint-Germain and the 1626 Grand bal de la Douairière de Billebahaut – offers rich ground for considering burlesque ballets and their functions within court culture and the politics of these performances beyond the ultimately limiting and uncontextualised framework of burlesque ballet as noble subversion and resistance to the monarchy. In these elaborate court productions Louis XIII danced alongside selected courtiers and professional dancers both at court and, in the course of the same evening, at the Hôtel de Ville, reaching a public beyond the sphere of the court and foreign diplomats. The fanciful color costume drawings and sketches produced by Daniel Rabel and his workshop have become visual emblems of burlesque ballet, fascinating visual remnants of the court’s most extravagant productions. Livrets and descriptions also survive for both, along with the names of the noble dancers. For the Fées, musical sources for the vocal and instrumental music and an account of the substantial expenditures for the ballet, costumes, sets, and machines remain.35 For both ballets, court poet René Bordier supplied the sung récits and the majority of the vers pour les personnages, and both, while fantastical and grotesque, are set in real world locales close to Paris: the forests of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, to the northwest of Paris; and the town of Clamart, to the southwest of Paris, near the forest of Meudon.

Fairies, and fantastical beings in the forests of Saint Germain: serious play

  • 36 Thomas Leconte who headed the team that assembled the documents and essays on Ballet des fées, op.  (...)
  • 37 “l’Entenduë” is most often translated as “knowing,” and “estropiez de cervelle” literally means tho (...)
  • 38 M. Franko, Dance as text, op. cit., p. 87-107.
  • 39 Sharon Kettering, “Favour and Patronage: Dancers in the Court Ballets of Early Seventeenth-Century (...)

14Rather than revealing the dissatisfactions of a malcontent and rebellious nobility rendered impotent by the constraints of Absolutism, anti-dueling edicts, and a reduction of their status, the select group of nobles chosen to dance in the Fées des forêts suggests that a royal ballet that engages with comic, grotesque, and satirical roles, costumes, and dance might instead reveal evidence of loyalty and service to the monarch and an awareness of problematic individuals. Conceived within the first year of Richelieu’s assumption of a central advisory role to Louis XIII, the Fées des forêts offers the modern reader obscure texts, vivid and imaginative images, and fleeting glimpses of dancers in motion in both image and music.36 Four of the ballet’s five sections served up satirical representations of common activities and skills pursued by the nobility (music, games, combat, dance), while the third section diverges, featuring instead an array of figures experiencing different degrees of mental disorder led by Jacqueline l’Entenduë, fairy of the “estropiez de cervelle.”37 This ballet forms the central evidence in Mark Franko’s analysis of the political erotics of burlesque ballet as emblematic of resistance to centralised monarchic power, but the ballet involved only a select sixteen members of the nobility, including the king, who danced a variety of burlesque roles.38 Professional dancers performed the majority of the roles, including those requiring the greatest physical skill and the most fantastical costumes. The identities and specific groupings and role assignments for the royal and noble dancers provide hints about how to read both vers pour les personnages and roles, but also suggest the challenges of interpreting practices that are both contrary to contemporary experience and challenging to widely held ideas about monarchy and power in this period. Without the kind of close account of patronage ties that Sharon Kettering brings to bear on the earlier ballets organized by the duc de Luynes, it is tempting to read the vers pour les personnages as the substance of the performances, or to blur the distinctions between noble and professional dancers to focus on the most disorderly and virtuosic choreographies as emblematic of a collapse of courtly dignity.39 Franko analyzes the burlesque ballet as a space that pitted nobles against the monarch, but this analysis is hard to sustain when taking into account the royal context, the roles that the king danced alongside specific nobles, and the balance between professional and noble dancing. This notion of burlesque ballet as performative resistance requires rethinking in order to take into account the underlying royal control and calculation revealed by role assignments and groupings of nobles who danced only in select roles and entrées. In the face of real resistance and internal factions and political disorder, Louis XIII gathered select members of the nobility with whom he rehearsed and performed in roles that simultaneously challenged and affirmed their dignity and inherent status.

  • 40 Jean-Marie Constant, “Les ballets dans l’imaginaire politique de la cour de Louis XIII dans les ann (...)
  • 41 There is some ambiguity in the male/female role assignments; some of the vers pour les personnages (...)
  • 42 Ballet des fées, ed. cit., p. 317-318. The payment accounts for the ballet include a costume for an (...)

15Each of the five sections of the Fées features an array of comical and fantastical roles and situations, but only select entrées include noble dancers; although the ballet’s metadiscourse in the vers pour les personnages was reserved for the nobility and royalty, the ballet’s performative impact depended on both professional and noble dancers who enacted both chaotic, disruptive scenarios and (temporary) restorations of order. Historian Jean-Marie Constant argues that the noble dancers appear to have been carefully chosen from among several groups – family, trusted courtiers who grew up with Louis XIII, and several seasoned older men with military experience.40 Thus the first section of the ballet’s enactment of the capricious fairy of music, Guillemine, la Quinteuse’s cacophony giving way to sweeter sounds, begins with a series of performances by professional dancers and musicians. Their noise (tintamarre) is sweetened by the entrance of eight guitar-playing chaconistes espagnols, four male and four female, at least six of whom were danced by nobles, including the king. Louis and Monsieur de Bleinville, first gentleman of the king’s chamber, danced as young Spanish men, while the duc d’Aluyn and the marquis de Mortemart performed as young Spanish women. The duc de Nemours, the ballet’s organiser, danced as an elderly Spanish woman along with Alexandre de Vendôme, leaving Monsieur de la Rocheguyon to dance as an elderly Spanish man.41 According to the payment records, at least one professional musician/dancer joined them.42 The nobles who accompanied Louis here included members of his household, his half brother (Vendôme), and his trusted childhood companion, Mortemart. In this section, then, the professionals took the more overtly disruptive roles.

  • 43 Eugénia Roucher-Kougioumtzoglou, “Chorea, Jocus, Ludus : de la danse comme ‘double jeu’ dans le Bal (...)
  • 44 A. Furetière, op. cit. “Follet, adj. diminutif de fou. Qui est un peu fou ou gaillard. Il est badin (...)
  • 45 Henri de Talleyrand-Périgord, comte de Chalais, was executed in August of 1626 for his alleged role (...)

16In subsequent sections, professional dancers performed the majority of the roles, while nobles danced in smaller groupings. The second section, featuring games of chance included only four nobles: the comte de Chalais, Mortemart, the Commander de Souvray, and Monsieur de Liancourt. Chalais, master of the king’s wardrobe, who would just eighteen months later lose his head for becoming entangled in Gaston and his circle’s plotting against Richelieu and Louis, danced as Gillette la Hazardeuze, fairy of gamblers; the marquis de Mortemart and the Commander de Souvray performed as lackeys exchanging slaps (insults) with a pair of professional dancers in ape costumes with whom they subsequently played a form of roulette.43 Monsieur de Liancourt, also a first gentleman of the king’s chamber, danced as the only noble among eight “Follets,” figures described as “a little mad or comical” playing a game with a small ball.44 In the third ballet, focused on various mental disorders, Liancourt, presumably after a quick costume change, took the role of Jacqueline l’Entenduë. The ballet of five Embabouinez (individuals who had been bamboozled), costumed in an old-fashioned, possibly stereotyped Spanish style featured only one noble, the comte de Chalais; it is tempting to view his two roles in this ballet as prescient given his later execution for treason, but there is little evidence that this was intentional.45 The subsequent grouping of four nobles as “Half-fools” in costumes split down the middle, one half a jester’s motley and the other breeches and pourpoints of a previous era, however, seems quite pointed. Three were connected to the royal family (Gaston, brother to the king; Alexandre de Vendôme, their half-brother; and their half-brother-in-law, the duc d’Elbeuf) and the Commander de Souvray (son of Louis XIII’s governor), almost as if the loyal Souvray were in place to keep Gaston and his half-brothers in check. The fourth ballet, led by Alison la Hargneuse featured a variety of combats and out of the twenty-four to twenty-five dancers in this section, only four, the “Valiant Combatants” were noble: these included the king, Rocheguyon, Liancourt, and Philippe-Emmanuel de Gondi, General of the Galleys. Their feigned combat gave way to an antic ballet where professional dancers lost body parts (made to detach) and others performed a comical joust of black-clad doctors on mechanical mules. In the final ballet focused on dance, only Monsieur de Poyenne danced a character role, as Macette la Cabrioleuse, although all sixteen of the noble participants took part in the concluding Grand Ballet. The noble dancers who performed alongside the king were among his most loyal supporters; those of this group who also danced roles alongside professionals may also have been among the more agile and adept members of his court.

17When examined in the context of the identities of the noble dancers and their roles at court and performance alongside professionals, the satirical and humorous vers pour les personnages resist straightforward readings. To take one example: How might members of the court have understood the verses for Gabriel de Rochechouart, marquis de Mortemart (father to the future Madame de Montespan) as a Lackey?

La gloire accompagne mes pas
Bien que Laquais, je ne suis pas
De ceux qu'un Escuyer estrille :
Mon maître est mon vallet parfois ;
S’il me fait porter la mandille,
Moi je lui fais porter du bois.

  • 46 A. Furetière offers several meanings for “estriller,” the first of which is simply to comb or curry (...)


[Glory accompanies my footsteps Although a Lackey, I am not one of those whom a Squire beats: My master is sometimes my valet; If he makes me wear a valet’s coat, Me, I make him wear a cuckold’s horns.]
46

  • 47 E. Roucher-Kougioumtzoglou, op. cit., p. 236-237.
  • 48 His son, Louis-Victor was a childhood companion to Louis XIV and danced at his side in court ballet (...)
  • 49 These would become especially popular during the reign of Louis XIV and many verses can be found am (...)

18Eugénia Roucher-Kougioumtzoglou singles these lines out as signaling noble refusal of servant status, and a blurring of identities.47 Read on their own, they might seem to support the notion of a disgruntled, rebellious nobility that Franko puts forward, and the role assignments here and the verses do play with the kinds of reversals common to carnival. However, when read as applying to the specific individual to whom they are directed, the question becomes how to interpret what is said, how much to read into the suggestion of role reversals, and the scurrilous implications of the final line. An “enfant d’honneur du Dauphin,” Mortemart was one of Louis XIII’s childhood playmates, and they shared musical interests and skill – in addition to being known for his ability to dance, sing and play the lute and guitar, his name can be found as composer of several airs de cour. Nothing in the historical record indicates that Mortemart resented his position vis-à vis his monarch; in 1663, Louis XIV rewarded the marquis’s loyal service by creating a new duchy of Mortemart.48 The unmarried Mortemart was reputed to have been close not just to Louis, but also to Queen Anne; but rather than reading these verses a literal veiled assertion of noble resentment, betrayal, and infidelity, they might be better read as a kind of satirical “anti-truth” of the sort that circulated in Parisian court and salon circles and was recorded in manuscript satirical and historical song collections of the seventeenth-century.49 More historical context, and more information about the specific dancers and their connections to each other, their positions at court, and their relationships with Louis XIII reveal the potential for multiple readings that go beyond theorising about noble dissatisfaction and resistance to absolutism. Close reading of ballet and historical sources and prosopography allows us to better contextualise the functions and meanings of burlesque ballets. These meanings and functions emerged in the process of conceptualising, organising, rehearsing, and performing. Burlesque ballets opened a space of less formal sociability among the nobility, where some of the hierarchies and formalities of rank might at least temporarily break down as nobles of differing ranks and professionals danced side-by-side, sometimes with antic results, in a setting where dancing skill might turn into an opportunity for advancement.

A burlesque ballet des nations: enacting French hospitality and graciousness

  • 50 Fanfan de Sotteville: literally, “Sweetie of Stupidville.”
  • 51 For instance, Rabel’s drawings for the American portion of the ballet include “La Musique d’Ameriqu (...)
  • 52 Between 1609 and 1612, nearly 500,000 moriscos were expelled from Spain and about 50,000 of them tr (...)
  • 53 René Bordier, Grand bal de la Douairière de Billebahaut Ballet dansé par sa Majesté, s.l.n.d., p. 5 (...)

19The Grand bal de la Douairière de Billebahaut (1626), set in the town of Clamart just outside of Paris, celebrates France as an open and hospitable nation, welcoming a series of burlesque and fantastical representatives of the five regions of the world– America, Asia, Northern Parts (Greenland and Friesland), Africa, and Europe. These foreign leaders and their followers have been drawn to Clamart to render homage to the Spanish Dowager of Bilbao and her French suitor, Fanfan de Sotteville.50 Only the livret, some of the vocal music, and the imaginative and colorful costume drawings survive, with a few descriptions and images that suggest a wide array of instrumental music.51 The livret never explains why Clamart, rather than Paris, nor why the Dowager comes to her suitor rather than the other way around, but it may hint at a shadow critique of Spanish practices, whether reference to Spain’s colonial territories or treatment of moriscos.52 The representations of each regional group betray the stereotyping of non-White, non-European figures that built on visual codes found also in costume books, engravings from travelogues, and in margins of some maps, like those produced by the De Blaews in the seventeenth century. Those representing America all come from Spanish-held Peru, and appeared partially nude in feathered costumes; those representing Asia include Mohammed, Turkish and Persian men of learning, in exaggerated turbans and mustaches, and the Grand Turk and women from his seraglio; the ballet of the Africans features a Cacique on an elephant surrounded by musicians in costumes suggestive of north Africa, while a later group includes figures in costumes from another region, and this ballet was strangely interrupted by the arrival of the Grand Cam and his Tartars, somehow displaced from Asia. The deliberately exaggerated, exoticized images were intended to evoke laughter while also disseminating a series of visual, choreography, and literary stereotypes, not just at court but more broadly to the Parisian bourgeoisie who witnessed the performance at the Hôtel de Ville. The European figures – Greenlanders, Friesians, the Dowager, the French hosts, and the ridiculous suitor and his “noble sprigs of fashion”53 – are also portrayed as ridiculous and comical, and curiously, Europe is represented by morisco refugees from Andalusia. The political context does not offer a lot of clarity leading to competing perspectives.

  • 54 McGowan, “Ballets for the Bourgeois,” op. cit.; Fabien Cavaillé, “Spectacle public, munificence roy (...)

20Scholars have proposed reading this ballet as a civic gift to the Parisian bourgeoisie, as a representation of French might through satirical presentation of the ballet des nations and court practices of receiving diplomats, or as a representation of emotional and familial breakdowns confusing public and private, conveying noble impotence that turned the court inside out. 54Each of these perspectives has some grounding in the historical context, but each overlooks the possible shadow critique of Spain and Louis XIII’s direct participation alongside a select group of nobles, including core members of his household alongside his brother and other restive relatives and their clients.

  • 55 Rabel’s costume for the Dowager, danced by the professional Monsieur Joly, includes high platform s (...)

21As in 1625, France was embroiled in a series of ongoing conflicts both internal and external, with Spain at the center. Protestant uprisings in the south continued, the Valteline region remained a point of contention with Spain, and this all was exacerbated by the continued plotting of the Huguenot duc de Rohan, who had been engaging in secret negotiations with Spain for support of La Rochelle as well as with England (recently allied with France through the marriage of Charles I to the French princess, Henriette-Marie). Spain’s (negative) presence is felt most strongly in the first and fifth segments of the ballet, with characters who had been conquered by Spain, inhabitants of Cusco, and the ghost of Atahualpa, and the Grenadins expelled by Spain. Furthermore, the Dowager of Bilbao, in whose honor all gather, is also from Spain, and quite visually grotesque in her representation.55 The ballet engaged in anti-Spanish rhetoric not so much through a grotesque representation of Spanish figures (although the Dowager and her entourage are such), but by contrast, with France seen as acting as the benevolent host for this gathering and as having generously welcomed those expelled from Spain (namely, the refugees from Grenada who dance in the final segment of the ballet, and among whose number Louis XIII himself performed.)

  • 56 These ten were joined by five additional nobles: the comte d’Harcourt (Henri de Lorraine, 1601-1666 (...)
  • 57 R. Bordier, Grand Bal, op. cit., p. 7-11, 20-28, 35-38, 44-48, 59-68.
  • 58 Ibid., p. 57; according to Bordier’s livret the Fanfan de Sotteville was danced by a Demaresse, pro (...)
  • 59 Katie Larson. “The Dancing Muhammed of the Grand bal de la Douairière de Billebahaut: Incarnating U (...)
  • 60 R. Bordier, Grand bal, op.cit., p.19: Je viens comme Persan, Docteur et Gentil-homme, / Ne m’en cr (...)
  • 61 Ibid. p. 54: Je suis un Amant de campagne, / Qui porte un front victorieux / Pour faire l’amour à l (...)
  • 62 Ibid., p. 42: “Beautez, si l’humeur vagabonde / me fait errer par tout le monde ; / Voicy d’où vien (...)
  • 63 A. L. Moote, op. cit., p. 189-192.

22Court poet Réné Bordier’s text focuses on a selection of the fifteen noble dancers who performed during the ballet, 56while other contributing poets offered vers for both select noble patrons and also collective vers for some of the roles taken by groups of professional dancers.57 As was true for the Fées, the majority of the most burlesque roles, such as those of the Dowager, her followers, her suitor and his followers, were danced by professionals.58 Eyewitness accounts focus on the spectacle, and the hazards of putting a horse on stage, but the poetic verses in the livret for the different leaders of the foreign delegations all pointedly reiterate, whether in the récits (when in French) or the vers pour les personnages, the idea that no matter how powerful a foreign leader might be, Louis, King of France is greater. It is not possible, from surviving sources, to know how either the court or the bourgeois audiences reacted to the spectacle of Sieur de Baronnat dancing as Muhammed, in a costume in which many negative visual stereotypes of Islam and monstrosity converge.59 The vers also do not help with this. Nor do we know what audiences made of Louis XIII, garbed as a Learned Persian with an exaggerated turban alongside his current favorite, Baradas, and the Commander de Souvray, fistfighting with three Turkish doctors (danced by Rocheguyon and Liancourt, and the professional, La Barre). The vers provide a metadiscourse, justifying Louis’s role and deflecting any criticism. They draw attention to the contradictions of his performance: the most Christian king of France, defender of Catholicism in his territory wears a turban and follows Muhammed on stage. The lines assert that, despite his physical appearance, he is none the less a defender of the Faith; his wearing of a turban is just like a bad book in the hands of a learned man – implying that wearing such a costume and dancing such a role cannot change Louis’s true character, just as a bad book cannot erase a learned person’s knowledge.60 The depiction of Islam here was meant to render it ridiculous and non-threatening, even as the portrayal is deeply offensive. The verses directed to Louis as a guitar-playing refugee from Grenada point to a more bellicose response to Spanish aggression as well as, perhaps, a double meaning: Louis should make love to his Spanish-born queen.61 In contrast, the verses for Louis’s brother Gaston are more ribald for his first role, a woman in the seraglio, and more ambiguous for his second role as an African. For this role, the lines suggest that both his own merits and Africa offer too limited scope to his ambitions.62 On the verge of his majority and eventual marriage to one of the wealthiest heiresses in France, Gaston was also on the cusp of resisting marriage and becoming embroiled in plotting against Richelieu and Louis, precipitating a crisis of state that led to the comte de Chalais’s execution.63 Bordier’s lines draw attention to something members of the court already knew of Gaston, his outsize expectations due to his status as heir to the throne. In his role as an African, he was joined by the duc de Longueville, the duc d’Elbeuf, Alexandre de Vendôme, and the Commander de Souvray – almost identical to the grouping of “Half-fools” from the previous year’s Fées, again with Souvray present as the king’s man – and in each case the verses repeat common conceits about love’s ability to burn the heart. Role assignments and scenarios here underscore the care taken with designating roles to nobles, a task that included calculations not only of skill but also of loyalty and service to the monarch. They might also reflect familial and political realities: Gaston, as heir to the throne, could not be excluded from the succession, and he also could not be completely excluded from the honor of being granted roles in the king’s ballets. His roles, however, could simultaneously grant him the same space for noble play that included adopting a range of non-noble identities that his elder brother enjoyed, while also setting some constraints and reinforcing his prominent, but secondary place within court hierarchy.

  • 64 M. Franko, Dance as text, op. cit., p. 106; A. Calhoun, op. cit., p. 243-244.

23The politics of this burlesque ballet cannot be adequately explained by reference to subversive noble resistance, or by a collapse of royal dignity that signaled a monarch not yet fully representative of the state.64 The whole ballet, with its prose descriptions suggesting different sorts of mimetic dance, gestures, and actions, and even sound, the vers, and knowledge of the individuals who danced, and the many roles taken by professionals reveal the way the court ballet organisers and participants sometimes deployed the burlesque to defuse potential troublemakers (even if unsuccessfully) and to deflect attention from more localised conflicts to a satirical image of far flung and diverse nations. Among possible readings of the ballet as gift, display in the tradition of diplomatic missions and ballets des nations, or as evidence of a court turned upside down, the ballet’s shadow critique of Spain through negative example offers a viable alternative reading that takes into account the complexities of both global and local politics, reminding audience and readers alike of Spain’s active presence as an ongoing rival in both the new and old worlds.

Shades of the Valois and Making the Case for the Glory of War

  • 65 The livret published Paris, 1635 by Robert Sara is very thin, with a list of the order of entries a (...)

24Nine years later, just as France was preparing to join the ongoing Thirty Years War on the side of the Swedes and Protestant German principalities against the forces of the Hapsburg emperor Ferdinand II and Habsburg Spain, burlesque ballet remained central to court performance and politics. The Ballet des Triomphes, ou la Vieille Cour (1635), organised by Cardinal Richelieu, with récits by Bordier, fits clearly in the burlesque mode while also focusing attention on Louis XIII and the promise of future military victories.65 Louis, now with multiple military victories under his belt, including his definitive quelling of the Huguenots at La Rochelle, danced three roles in this ballet: a Swiss Captain, a Lady of Honor, and the uncle of the bride. This ballet served multiple purposes: it shored up noble support for new military ventures, while also cementing the public reconciliation of Louis XIII with his unruly brother, Gaston. As a bonus, it also served as the means for separating Gaston from his close friend, the newly minted duc de Puylaurens, who was arrested at a rehearsal for plotting against Richelieu and the king.

  • 66 The illegitimate son of Charles IX.

25The ballet opens with the premise that the ghosts of the Valois Court cannot resist coming to celebrate Louis’s future victories. Set on the banks of the Seine near the Louvre, the first segment of the ballet focuses on a grotesque Prince (danced by the duc d’Angoulesme),66 and a princess, modeled on the late Marguerite de Valois. These royal figures were accompanied by lackeys, Swiss Captains and Guards, pages, footmen, court fools, ladies-in-waiting, courtiers, a “musique grotesque” and a parade of ten fictional Ambassadors. The second segment moves across the Seine to the faubourg of Saint-Germain, where Marguerite de Valois had a home. Shepherds, accompanied by musettes, entered the hall and then danced to the sound of violins, after which the ballet staged a pastoral wedding in Saint-Germain, complete with a dance competition and a parade of colorful, common characters: a coquette courted by an Englishman, “Jokers,” “Knights” of the Clerk’s Field who visit a Court of Miracles, “Nymphes of the frog pond” – the laundrywomen who perform a dance that includes their laundry beaters – and squires of the Clerk’s Field and their wooden horses who perform a dressage Carousel with courbettes, caprioles, and passades.

  • 67 These professionals included La Barre, Souville, Montan, and Le Camus.

26An old-fashioned concert of music so powerful that it draws forth the spirits of the dead initiates the first entrée, the “Ombres” of the Valois court. Led by the comte de Soissons, who would just the next year join with Gaston in yet another unsuccessful plot to assassinate Richelieu, the Ombres included only two nobles, Soissons and Louis XIII’s half-nephew, François de Vendôme, duc de Beaufort; the other four were professional musician-dancers.67 Although there are no costume drawings from this ballet, the description of this entrée in the Gazette de France provides tantalising details that suggest something like the costumes for the Phantosmes from the 1632 Ballet de Chateau de Bicestre, contained in Rabel’s album, except in white:

  • 68 Gazette de France, “Le Balet du Roy,” n. 22, 1635, p. 85–92, here p. 87: “each one [was] covered in (...)

La deuxiesme furent les ombres de quelques courtisans defunts, representées par le comte de Soissons, Grand Maistre de France, le duc de Beaufort, les sieurs de La Barre, Souville, Montau et Le Camus, couverts chacun d’un crespe blanc qui leur servoit de voile, lequel ayant quitté ils parurent couverts d’un bas de saye [sic] tout de lames d’argent en broderie des plumes de Paon, l’habillement de teste & le pourpoint de mesme, & le bas de soye & soulier blancs. 68

27The music for this entrée survives in two sources, and it is easy to imagine the slow and somewhat somber entry of these shades to the first section of this air, while the livelier rhythms of the second section seems better suited to the greater freedom of movement after they have discarded their veils. Depending upon the repeats, perhaps the veils came off in the last three measures of the repeat of the first section.

  • 69 Ibid., p. 88. “a large wig with a beard à la Suisse : a toque of black velvet on his head, breeches (...)
  • 70 Ibid. “that his [Louis’s] costume did not prevent [any of them] from recognising [his Majesty], no (...)

28From the beginning of the ballet to the final entry before the Grand Ballet, the whole unfolds unabashedly in the burlesque mode, even as the Gazette account frames the king’s dancing multiple burlesque roles as part of his ability to “faire le Roy par tout,” [act as the King everywhere] including while he danced as the Princess’s Lady of Honor, dressed in the costume of an old Gallic woman, which, the Gazette reports, he “perfectly” performed, dancing for nearly three-quarters of an hour. Remarking on Louis XIII’s earlier role in the ballet as a Swiss captain in the company of professional dancer Verpré, the Gazette recounts that the king wore “… une grande perruque, avec une barbe à la suisse, la toque de velours noir en teste, chausses et pourpoint de satin bleu brodé d’argent, les manches à jour de satin noir , le bas de soye gris perle et souliers blancs …” and performed a dance with Verpré that “conforme à leur habit.”69 After this, they were joined by four Swiss guards and the Gazette notes “que son habit ne leur empescha pas de reconnoistre, non plus que l’astre du jour au travers d’un nuage.”70 These Swiss guards had to balance their deference to their king with the allegiance they owed to the Princess within the ballet, making sure they convincingly performed their roles, while also honoring their monarch, which may explain the metrical shifts and the length of the air for “Les Suisses,” although it also raises questions about how choreography and repeats might have worked. The careful balancing between recognising majesty and appropriately performing one’s role dissolved into slapstick comedy with the subsequent entry of these guards’ wives, who brought them drinks, which led to a drunken dance and exit.

  • 71 Ibid., p. 85: “It is an effect of the Sun’s vigor to act with inferior bodies without descending fr (...)
  • 72 Ibid., p. 92.

29The pull between recongnising the monarch in his role and fully embodying their characters may have been more of a concern for the Gazette’s chronicler than something apparent to the court spectators. While conveying an extraordinary level of visual and auditory detail, including some descriptions of dance movements and gestures, such as those of the Prince, or the Nymphs of the Frogpond, that are clearly in the comic, grotesque mode, the Gazette account’s author also repackages the experience of this ballet for broader public consumption. To that end, the Gazette frames the ballet as a royal prerogative, emphasizing royal performative power. The account begins with a solar analogy : “C’est vn effet de la force du Soleil de concourir avec les corps inférieurs sans descendre de sa sphére. C’est vn effect de la puissance des grands Roys de se familiariser quand ils veulent avec leurs sujects, sans diminüer rien de leur authorité souveraine.”71 If Louis fraternized informally with his courtiers in the ballet while dancing comic roles, he did so with select nobles, not always of the highest rank, but ones in trusted positions and known for their dancing or musical abilities, while the rest of the dancers alongside the king were most often professionals. The Swiss guards who joined the Captain (Louis) and his Lieutenant (Verpré) included figures who danced with Louis in the 1620s, including Liancourt and Mortemart. Louis, or Richelieu, on the other hand, surrounded Gaston with members of his social circle, including the Count of Brion (replacing the ill-fated Puylaurens) the marquis de Poyanne, the duc de Beaufort, the comte de Soissons, the duc de Longueville, and the duc de Mercoeur, with Liancourt standing as a loyal counterweight. Gaston’s group of Follets (Will-o’-Wisps) concluded the ballet. The Gazette say nothing about the execution or movements of their dance, describing only their costumes – “feathers on their heads, on the tops of their sleeves, at the leg-openings of their doublets, and on their garters on a costume of black satin covered with sequins.”72 Instead the author chose to focus attention on Queen Anne and her ladies who performed the Grand Ballet, an unusual move: bringing women into an otherwise all male ballet. The Gazette’s packaging, thus, minimizes the impact of Gaston and his companions’ sparkling and capricious dancing. Instead the reader is invited to contemplate the unusual spectacle of having the Grand Ballet, usually performed by all the (male) noble dancers, danced by women from the audience, and effectively distracting the reader from contemplating the misleading Follets and Gaston’s return from exile and continued resistance to Richelieu and Louis.

30As this relatively cursory examination of these ballets has shown, rethinking the meanings and deployment of grotesque and comic style in Louis XIII’s court ballets opens up new ways of understanding burlesque ballet. Taking the complexity of the social and historical context in which these performances were conceived and the various individuals who participated in these productions into account does not support analysis of participation in these ballets as acts of resistance to centralised power, especially in the cases where the nobles danced their roles at the request of the king and sometimes at his side. Nor does such an understanding of the burlesque make room for the dancing of the paid professionals who performed the most comical, grotesque, and physically challenging of the roles. The political and the whimsical and fantastic are inextricably intertwined, whether in the 1620s or the 1630s. This is as true of the 1635 Ballet des Triomphes as of the earlier Fées and Douairière. Its political context, preparations for war against an external enemy, suggests that Louis and Richelieu used the satiric-comic register for serious ends: to reinforce a desired outcome, broad noble support for this conflict. At the same time, the scenario and roles opened up room for other focuses; audience members’ eyes would surely have been drawn to the sequined sparkling motions of Gaston and his companions, or to the segment featuring maimed soldiers turned acrobats at the Cour de Miracles, or to the washerwomen dancing while beating their laundry. By re-examining the implications of “burlesque ballet” we can also better integrate the work of historians who study patronage networks and power structures that span the courts of Louis XIII and Louis XIV, and we can re-evaluate common narratives about the French nobility as impotent, rebellious, and, under Louis XIV, distracted from rebellion by the practice of court ballet and dance. This is not to say that both kings did not deal with significant civil unrest, led by a group of nobles connected to Gaston d’Orléans, but rather to assert that the burlesque mode was central to the royal court’s ballet productions and divertissement and its negotiations of power, patronage, favor and merit.

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Notes

1 These include Paul LaCroix (ed.), Ballets et mascarades de cour de Henri III à Louis XIV (1581-1652), vv. 1-6, Geneva and Turin, J. Gay et fils, 1868-1870; Henry Prunières, Le ballet de court en France avant Benserade et Lully, Paris, Henri Laurens, 1914, p. 123-133; Margaret McGowan, L’Art du ballet de cour en France (1581-1643), Paris, C. N. R. S., 1963; and Mark Franko, Dance as Text: Technologies of the Baroque Body, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993.

2 Cross-cast roles were common in court ballet; in ballets that featured the queen or royal princesses, the noble female roles were danced by court ladies; any comic female roles, however, were still taken by cross-cast male dancers, as in the 1615 Ballet de Madame or in the later ballets of the 1650s at the court of Louis XIV. For more on cross-casting during the reign of Louis XIV, see Julia Prest, Theatre under Louis XIV: Cross-casting and the Performance of Gender in Drama, Ballet and Opera, New York, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

3 L’Art du ballet de cour, op. cit., p. 133-153.

4 Ibid. See also Margaret McGowan, “Ballets for the Bourgeois,” Dance Research, 19.2, 2001, p. 106-126.

5 Franko, op. cit., especially p. 63-107.

6 Ibid., p. 66.

7 Ibid., p. 71 and p.77. Franko asserts “The political satire of burlesque ballet should be considered as part of the right to resist that permitted the people to distinguish a monarch from a tyrant” (p. 77).

8 Ibid., p. 10.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid., p. 131-132.

11 Sharon Kettering, “Strategies of Power: Favorites and Women Household Clients at Louis XIII’s Court,” French Historical Studies, 33.2, 2010, p. 177-200; and Power and Reputation at the Court of Louis XIII: The Career of Charles d’Albert, duc de Luynes (1578–1621), Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2008; Sara E. Chapman, Private Ambition and Political Alliances: the Phélypeaux de Ponchartrain Family and Louis XIV’s Government, 1650-1715, Rochester, NY, University of Rochester Press, 2004. On the cultural history side: Jay M. Smith, The Culture of Merit: Nobility, Royal Service, and the Making of Absolute Monarchy in France, 1600-1789, Ann Arbor, MI, The University of Michigan Press, 1996; Jonathan Dewald, Aristocratic Experience and the Origins of Modern Culture: France 1570-1715, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1993; William Beik, Absolutism and Society in Seventeenth-Century France: State Power in Provincial Aristocracy in Languedoc, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985.

12 Mark Franko, “The King Cross-dressed: Power and Force in Royal Ballets,” in Sara E. Melzer and Kathryn Norbert (eds.), From the Royal to the Republican Body: Incorporating the Political in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century France, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1998, p. 64-85; “Majestic Drag: Monarchical Performativity and the King’s Theatrical Body,” The Drama Review, 47.2, 2003, p. 71-87 (which is essentially a revised version of the 1998 essay); and “Fragment of the Sovereign as Hermaphrodite: Time, History, and the Exception in the Ballet de Madame,” Dance Research, 25.2, 2007, p. 119-133. These articles build their argument on the erroneous assumption that Louis XIII performed in the 1615 Ballet de Madame which showcased his sister Elisabeth. In Sheila Barker with Tess Gurney, “House left, house right: a Florentine account of Marie de Medici’s 1615 Ballet de MadameThe Court Historian, 20.2, 2015 p. 137-165, here p. 140 and 155, https://doi.org/10.1179/1462971215Z.00000000018 (last accessed June 6, 2020), Franko’s credit is so high that these careful scholars working with a recently discovered eyewitness account of this ballet, without questioning his conclusions, take at face value Franko’s erroneous assertion that Louis XIII danced in his sister’s ballet as an “androgine” although none of the contemporary sources provide any evidence for Louis having danced at all in that ballet.

13 Laurie Nussdorfer, “Review of Dance as Text: Technologies of the Baroque Body,Dance Research Journal, 27.1, 1995, p. 41-43, here p. 43, http://www.jstor.com/stable/1478430 (last accessed July 15, 2020).

14 Marie-Claude Canova-Green, Ballets pour Louis XIII: Danse et politique à la cour de France (1610-1643), Toulouse, Société de Littératures Classique, 2010, and Ballets burlesques pour Louis XIII: Danse et jeux de transgression (1622-1638), Toulouse, Société de Littératures Classique, 2012; Greer Garden (ed.), La Déliverance de Renaud: ballet dansé par Louis XIII en 1617, Turnhout, Brepols, 2010; Thomas Leconte (ed.), Ballet des fées des forêts de Saint Germain: un ballet royal en bouffonesque humeur, Turnhout, Brepols, 2012.

15 M-C. Canova-Green, Ballets burlesques, op. cit., p. viii-xiii. Pierre Gatulle, “Jeux, musique et ballet de cour autour de Gaston d’Orléans : burlesque et politique,” Ludica, 13/14, 2007, p. 23-37, here p. 23-24.

16 Ibid., p. ix-xiii. Canova-Green quotes de Pure, Idée des spectacles anciens et nouveaux, Paris, 1668, p. 272, here p. x.

17 Claudine Nédélec, “Le burlesque au grand siècle: une esthétique marginale?” Dix-septième siècle, 224.3, 2004, p. 429-443, here p. 439; see also Joan DeJean, Libertine Strategies: Freedom and the Novel in Seventeenth-Century France, Columbus, Ohio State University Press, 1981, p. 142-143; here DeJean describes the inventive language of these libertine authors as “burlesque” – a manifestation of “linguistic self-consciousness” that is the opposite of natural language, although it is also the case that those who wrote and worked primarily in the 1620s and early 1630s did not apply the label “burlesque” to their own writing or style.

18 Antoine Furetière, Dictionnaire universel, The Hague and Rotterdam, 1690, “BURLESQUE, adj. m. & f. Amusing, playful, drawing on ridicule”; plaisant can mean charming, amusing, pleasing, giving pleasure, gaillard likewise connotes amusing, or playful, and may also connote licentious; ridicule can mean inspiring / causing laughter, or may describe the object of laughter, something ridiculous.

19 Ibid. “quite modern”; Furetière came of age in the 1640s and authored several burlesque texts, including a burlesque verse translation of the Aeneid (1649) and his 1653 Voyage de Mercure (Trip to Mercury) before his election to the Académie Française in 1662.

20 The Gallica catalog of digitized items returns 401 hits where burlesque is either in the title or text for documents published in the seventeenth century, the majority of which are Mazarinades; this number increases dramatically to over 1,000 for the eighteenth century.

21 J. DeJean, op. cit. and The Reinvention of Obscenity: Sex, Lies, and Tabloids in Early Modern France, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2002, p. 1-55.

22 Charlotte Coffin, “Burlesque or Neoplatonic? Popular or elite? The shifting Value of Classical Mythology in Love’s Mistress” in Janice Valls-Russell, Agnès Lafont, and Charlotte Coffin (eds.), Interweaving Myths in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, Manchester, University of Manchester Press, 2017, p. 218-238, here p. 219-221.

23 M-C. Canova-Green, Ballets burlesques, op cit., p. 20-21: Among these poets were Théophile, Saint-Amant, François Boisrobert and Charles Sorel; the burlesque ballet Les Dandins for Gaston d’Orléans is attributed to Tristan L’Hermite in the gallica.fr catalog entry.

24 C. Nédélec, op. cit., p. 440-441; and Jean Leclerc, L’antiquité travestie et la vogue du burlesque en France (1643-1661), Paris, Hermann, 2014 [2007].

25 C. Nédélec, ibid., p. 439, 440.

26 Amanda Eubanks Winkler’s work, including her residencies and performance workshops at the Globe and the Folger Library on performing Restoration Shakespeare, and our discussions of her readings in performance studies and Shakespeare have shaped my thinking on this as has her book Music, Dance, and Drama in Early Modern English Schools, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2020.

27 Two costume drawing albums, one possibly copied from the other, or from another source, are held by the Louvre in the Cabinet de dessins (https://www.photo.rmn.fr/Package/2C6NU0MJ3EGA) and the Bibliothèque nationale (a number of the images can be found on gallica.bnf.fr) and loose sheet drawings from the same workshop are also held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (https://collections.vam.ac.uk/search/?limit=45&q=rabel&commit=Search&after-adbc=AD&before-adbc=AD&narrow=1&collection%5B%5D=THES48602&offset=0&slug=0). The Victoria and Albert collection includes some working sketches with names, and the Louvre recently purchased (May 2020) a lot of seven Rabel costume sketches that include some names of professional dancers.

28 For example, in M. Franko, Dance as Text, op. cit., p. 81, 89, 95 Franko identifies texts as récits even when the livrets do not.

29 Ibid., and Alison Calhoun, “The Court Turned Inside out: The Collapse of dignity in Louis XIII’s burlesque ballets,” in Michael Meere (ed.), French Renaissance and Baroque Drama: Text, Performance, and Theory, Newark, University of Delaware Press; Lanham, Rowman and Littlefield Inc., 2015, p. 233-246.

30 A. Lloyd Moote, Louis XIII, the Just, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1989, p. 82-100 describes not only the assassination in the courtyard of the Louvre, but also the gruesome response of a Parisian mob that disinterred Concini’s corpse and dragged it through the streets of Paris before dismembering and burning it.

31 David Parrott, Richelieu’s Army: War, Government and Society in France, 1624-1642, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 85-87.

32 A.L. Moote, op. cit., p. 134-135 and p. 179-183 and Jean-François Dubost and Marylou Nguyen Hoang Phong, “Genèse d’une imagerie politique au début de la guerre de Trente ans : le Ballet des Fées des forêts de Saint-Germain et le stéréotype de l’Espagnol,” in Ballet des fées ed. cit., p. 37-75, here p. 63-68.

33 Pierre Gatulle, “La grande cabale de Gaston d’Orléans aux Pays-Bas espagnols et en Lorraine : le prince et la guerre des images,” Dix-septième siècle, 231.2, 2006, p. 301-326.

34 J. M. Smith, op. cit., p. 93-123.

35 Ballet des fées, ed. cit., assembles all of these sources and includes a series of informative essays that contexualise the ballet. A transcription of the “Paiements extraordinaires” can be found on pp. 311-339; these document the expenditure of 16,380 livres and 12 sols for costumes, machines, and sets; this amount does not include payments to musicians or professional dancers.

36 Thomas Leconte who headed the team that assembled the documents and essays on Ballet des fées, op. cit. also oversaw a reconstruction of the ballet with choreography by baroque dancers Cécile Roussat and Julien Lubeck in 2013 (http://www.citedelamusique.fr/francais/evenement.aspx?id=12287), but it is impossible to reconstruct fully such a work and its historical context and political resonances.

37 “l’Entenduë” is most often translated as “knowing,” and “estropiez de cervelle” literally means those with brains that have been maimed or crippled.

38 M. Franko, Dance as text, op. cit., p. 87-107.

39 Sharon Kettering, “Favour and Patronage: Dancers in the Court Ballets of Early Seventeenth-Century France,” Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire, 43, 2008, p. 391-415; A. Calhoun, op. cit. p. 243-244. Calhoun, reading the vers pour les personnages, proposes burlesque ballets as performances that “challenged royal and courtly dignity” in their promotion of disorder and she identifies them as embodying performance of emotional breakdowns and collapse of courtly dignity in the context of the ongoing political disorder of Louis XIII’s reign

40 Jean-Marie Constant, “Les ballets dans l’imaginaire politique de la cour de Louis XIII dans les années 1620,” in Ballet des fées, ed. cit., p. 19-36, here p. 30-33.

41 There is some ambiguity in the male/female role assignments; some of the vers pour les personnages make the role gender clear while others leave it ambiguous

42 Ballet des fées, ed. cit., p. 317-318. The payment accounts for the ballet include a costume for an old (male) Spaniard designated for a Sieur La Barre, most likely Pierre Chabanceau de la Barre, a court keyboard player and dancer; they also list a costume for one “Sieur Carra,” a professional dancer, as a “jeune espagnolle,” suggesting that he may have replaced one of the two nobles for whom there are verses for this role in the livret.

43 Eugénia Roucher-Kougioumtzoglou, “Chorea, Jocus, Ludus : de la danse comme ‘double jeu’ dans le Ballet des fées des forêts de Saint-Germain ” in Ballet des fées, ed. cit., p. 207-247, here p. 236 cites Richelet’s definition of “Tourniquet,” the term used in the prose description, which describes a wooden device with a spinning needle and sections marked with numbers.

44 A. Furetière, op. cit. “Follet, adj. diminutif de fou. Qui est un peu fou ou gaillard. Il est badin, gaillard, & follet, cette fille est enjouée & follette.”

45 Henri de Talleyrand-Périgord, comte de Chalais, was executed in August of 1626 for his alleged role in conspiring along with Gaston to assassinate Richelieu and possibly also Louis himself; details of the plot are murky, but as with all plots involving Gaston, others bore the heaviest cost, leaving the royal prince at the center unscathed.

46 A. Furetière offers several meanings for “estriller,” the first of which is simply to comb or curry a horse, or to rub vigorously, or, figuratively, to beat or ruin someone, or to rob them; while a literal translation would be “one of those whom a squire curries,” the figurative meaning seems more likely to me here, as usually Squires curry horses, and it is not clear that, in French, there is the same usage of the verb “to curry” as both caring for a horse’s coat or offering special treatment to someone in order to gain favors or privileges. Likewise, under the lengthy entry for “Bois” Furetière includes the phrase “porter du bois” as a figurative phrase referring to a wife making her husband wear the sign of a cuckold (horns). The Trésor de langue français informatisée also suggests that this phrase could mean to fool or deceive someone. It would also be possibly to translate this literally as “Me, I make him carry wood,” but then it would not be parallel with the previous phrase, which is about wearing a specific garment, the “Mandille” which Furetière defines as a specific style of coat that was worn by valets.

47 E. Roucher-Kougioumtzoglou, op. cit., p. 236-237.

48 His son, Louis-Victor was a childhood companion to Louis XIV and danced at his side in court ballets and took over his father’s position as first gentleman of the royal bedchamber, and his daughter Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan became Louis XIV’s mistress, with whom she had seven children.

49 These would become especially popular during the reign of Louis XIV and many verses can be found among the manuscript chansonniers that collected satirical songs from this period. The Chansonnier Maurepas, for instance, is a later, multi-volume collection of such songs; most of these song collections include a selection of “contre-veritez.”

50 Fanfan de Sotteville: literally, “Sweetie of Stupidville.”

51 For instance, Rabel’s drawings for the American portion of the ballet include “La Musique d’Amerique” https://www.photo.rmn.fr/CorexDoc/RMN/Media/TR1/ZEZXAM/01-012725.jpg and the European segment includes guitar-playing refugees from Grenada.

52 Between 1609 and 1612, nearly 500,000 moriscos were expelled from Spain and about 50,000 of them transited through France; see Mercedes García-Arsenal and Gerard Wiedgers, “Introduction,” Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain: A Mediterranean Diaspora, Leiden, Brill, 2014, p. 1–16.

53 René Bordier, Grand bal de la Douairière de Billebahaut Ballet dansé par sa Majesté, s.l.n.d., p. 51: “Les nobles Muguets qui l’assistant …”

54 McGowan, “Ballets for the Bourgeois,” op. cit.; Fabien Cavaillé, “Spectacle public, munificence royale et politique de la joie: le cas du ballet de cour à la ville dans la première moitié du XVIIe siècle” (Le grand bal de la Douairière de Billebahaut, 1626), Biblio 17: PFSCL Spectacles et pouvoirs dans l’Europe de l’ancien régime, 193, 2011, p. 29-42 ; Marie-Claude Canova-Green “Dance and Ritual: the Ballet des nations at the court of Louis XIII,” Renaissance Studies, 9.4, December 1995, p.395-403; Ellen R. Welch, A Theatre of Diplomacy: International Relations and the Performing Arts in Early Modern France, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017, p. 62-65; and Calhoun, op. cit., p. 242-244

55 Rabel’s costume for the Dowager, danced by the professional Monsieur Joly, includes high platform shoes, and a distorted, exaggeratedly long neck, and a mask with hooked nose and chin, and eyeglasses. https://www.photo.rmn.fr/CorexDoc/RMN/Media/TR1/BAOZ4U/01-012697.jpg

56 These ten were joined by five additional nobles: the comte d’Harcourt (Henri de Lorraine, 1601-1666, brother to the duc d’Elbeuf who also danced in this ballet, as well as in the Fées), François de Baradas (1602-1686, premier gentilhomme de la chambre du roy in 1626; he fell from royal favor within six months of his elevation from the Petite Écurie); the duc de Longueville (Henri d’Orléans, 1595-1663, brother-in-law to the comte de Soissons); the comte de Cramail (Adrien de Monluc, 1571-1646, a contemporary of the duc de Nemours, with whom he shared a ballet entry); and Sieur de Baronnat, about whom little is known, and who only danced one role, that of Mohammed in the second section of the ballet. The number of professional dancers is not known but given that in each large ballet the proportion of nobles to total roles covers only a fraction of them, there must have been a number of professionals, perhaps as many as twenty in addition to the court musicians.

57 R. Bordier, Grand Bal, op. cit., p. 7-11, 20-28, 35-38, 44-48, 59-68.

58 Ibid., p. 57; according to Bordier’s livret the Fanfan de Sotteville was danced by a Demaresse, probably the playwright Jean Desmarets de Saint Sorlin, who also may have danced as the Grand Turk; see H. Gaston Hall, Richelieu’s Desmarets and the century of Louis XIV, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1990, p. 58-83, here p. 73.

59 Katie Larson. “The Dancing Muhammed of the Grand bal de la Douairière de Billebahaut: Incarnating Unity, Power, and Glory at the Vourt of Louis XIII” in Christiane J. Gruber and Avinoam Shalem (eds.), The Image of the Prophet between Ideal and Ideology: A Scholarly Investigation, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2014, p. 273-294, here p. 273, 279-282

60 R. Bordier, Grand bal, op.cit., p.19: Je viens comme Persan, Docteur et Gentil-homme, / Ne m’en croyez pas moins de la Foy protecteur: / Un Turban sur le Chef du Fils aisné de Rome, / Est tel qu’un mauvais livre en la main d’un Docteur”.

61 Ibid. p. 54: Je suis un Amant de campagne, / Qui porte un front victorieux / Pour faire l’amour à l’Espagne: / Est-il dessin plus glorieux? [ I am a lover of the military campaign / Who bears a victor’s brow / To make love to [war on] Spain / Is there a more glorious plan?]” Louis’ love of battle was well-established by this point; among the nobility who commanded and served in the military, however, there was little support for open battle with Spain at this point.

62 Ibid., p. 42: “Beautez, si l’humeur vagabonde / me fait errer par tout le monde ; / Voicy d’où vient ma passion : / C’est qu’ à l’esgal de mes merites, / L’Afrique, à mon ambition / Offroit des bornes trop petites.”

63 A. L. Moote, op. cit., p. 189-192.

64 M. Franko, Dance as text, op. cit., p. 106; A. Calhoun, op. cit., p. 243-244.

65 The livret published Paris, 1635 by Robert Sara is very thin, with a list of the order of entries and a very small collection of vers pour les personnages; texts for the récits are found in music publications rather than in the livret; M-C. Canova-Green, Burlesques ballets, op. cit., p. 256-257.

66 The illegitimate son of Charles IX.

67 These professionals included La Barre, Souville, Montan, and Le Camus.

68 Gazette de France, “Le Balet du Roy,” n. 22, 1635, p. 85–92, here p. 87: “each one [was] covered in white crêpe that served as a veil,” and once they had thrown off their veils, “they appeared in white silk covered in silver tinsel and peacock-feather embroidery with a similar head-covering and doublet and white silk stockings and dancing shoes”
The Phantosmes from
Bicestre images can be found here: https://www.photo.rmn.fr/archive/01-013169-2C6NU0G37Y2H.html and here: https://www.photo.rmn.fr/archive/01-013167-2C6NU0G37ULJ.html

69 Ibid., p. 88. “a large wig with a beard à la Suisse : a toque of black velvet on his head, breeches and doublet of blue satin embroiders in silver and the sleeves in black satin puffed out and stuffed, with pear-grey silk hose and white dancing shoes …” and “conform[ed] to their costume[s].”

70 Ibid. “that his [Louis’s] costume did not prevent [any of them] from recognising [his Majesty], no more than the sun through a cloud.”

71 Ibid., p. 85: “It is an effect of the Sun’s vigor to act with inferior bodies without descending from its sphere. It is an effect of the power of great Kings to make themselves familiar, when they wish to, with their subjects, without diminishing any of their sovereign authority.”

72 Ibid., p. 92.

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Rose Pruiksma, « Rethinking Burlesque Forms in Louis XIII ballets: Dance, Music, and Politics in Burlesque ballets, 1625-1635 »Études Épistémè [En ligne], 39 | 2021, mis en ligne le 15 mai 2021, consulté le 18 septembre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/11284 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/episteme.11284

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Rose Pruiksma

Rose A. Pruiksma is a senior lecturer in music history at the University of New Hampshire. She works on representation, politics, and culture in Louis XIII and Louis XIV’s court ballets and has published articles on girls dancing sarabandes in Louis XIV court ballets, François Pomey’s famous description of a danced sarabande (Lyon, 1670), the Académie royale de danse, and the theatrical chaconne. Her article on the Ballet des Triomphes (1635) is forthcoming in a volume of essays to be published by Gallimard. She is currently working on a monograph on the court ballets of Louis XIII and Louis XIV and an article on The Jazz Singer (1927).

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