Hors Collection

Mascarades & ballets au grand siècle (1643-1715)

The “danse de fête” (festive, or celebration dance) comes from an Italian-inspired old national tradition that started in the Renaissance period; it spread in 18th century France under the reign of Louis XIV, where it grew into a tremendous social phenomenon: a whole country, from the King to the people, was carried away by the dance, to forget the harshness of the period or to celebrate the glory of the greats. Related to ball and carnival masquerade, ballet brought new life to celebrations at school, experimented with dramatic forms, turned them into comedy-ballet, tragedy-ballet and even opera-ballet. Among this great diversity, the ballet as presented in court was but its ultimate form.

It is this phenomenon that Philippe Hourcade attempts to recount to its full extent, for the first time. This book is complemented by key testimonies from that period and enriched with repertoires of dancers from the court and of all ballets performed under Louis XIV.

Philippe Hourcade is a Professor in French Literature at Limoges University and President of ‘Société Saint-Simon’. His work focuses on the 17th and 18th century, with particular emphasis on fictional works, historiography and shows. He published Lesage’s Turcaret and The Fairy Tales of Mme d’Aulnoy among others.