I have reconstructed and performed many baroque dances in my time. Most have been theatrical solos or duets. It’s been a while since I worked on choreographies from the ballroom repertoire. However, I have long been curious about the handful of dances from the early 1700s that seem to have attained a special place in the dance culture of the period.
A dozen dances appear in multiple sources, some of which date to more than fifty years after their first publication, indicating that their fame lasted well beyond their own time. References by dancing masters such as Gottfried Taubert and Kellom Tomlinson as well as Pierre Rameau, in their respective dance manuals, suggest not only that these ballroom duets had travelled beyond France but also that they had become part of the course of instruction offered by leading dance teachers. Some of these duets even reached the stage, notably in London where a couple of them became staples of the entr’acte dance repertoire and were regularly featured during the benefit season.
The following may be described as favourite ballroom duets, dates of first publication are shown in parentheses:
La Bourée d’Achille, by Pecour (1700)
La Bourgogne, by Pecour (1700)
La Forlana, by Pecour (1700)
La Mariée, by Pecour (1700)
Le Passepied, by Pecour (1700)
Aimable Vainqueur, by Pecour (1701)
L’Allemande, by Pecour (1702)
La Bretagne, by Pecour (1704)
La Bacchante, by Pecour (1706)
The Rigadoon, by Isaac (1706)
Le Menuet d’Alcide, by Pecour (1709)
La Nouvelle Forlanne, by Pecour (1710)
Some of these dances have become familiar to baroque dance enthusiasts, while others are rarely (if ever) reconstructed. The list highlights the dominance of France, and of Guillaume-Louis Pecour, over European social dancing.
What made these dances special? Was it their music, their choreography or were there other reasons for their popularity? I will take a closer look at each of them to see if I can find out. I’ll also assess their modern status by checking YouTube for videos. In addition, I hope to find the time and the energy to work my way through at least some of the choreographies as part of my research.