‘La princesse de Darmstadt’ – letter of application« of a dancing master?

Olivier’s La princesse de Darmstadt is a nearly unknown German choreography of the early 18th century. The paper discusses the date of the manuscript, the context it was  written  for  and contains a survey of this unique dance. The choreography seems to be a little stage piece and it is remarkable for several reasons. It is choreographed for a solo couple and a group of four couples. While the solo parts are mainly written in Feuillet notation, the group parts are written in contredanse notation. Both parts alternate with each other and at the end they  all  dance together.

The choreography also contains interesting verbal descriptions  of  the  Allemande hand holdings. The manuscript was dedicated to the hereditary princess of Hessen-Darmstadt by Olivier, dancing master at a small county nearby. About the same time Olivier sent his choreography to the princess, her husband got a dance collection by Pierre Dubreil, dancing master at the Bavarian court. Was that a mere coincidence? For particular reasons the author believes that both hoped to get an employment as maître de ballet at the court of Darmstadt.


Dr. Carola Finkel
Symposium Title: 
Dancing for Anniversaries and Occasions: Chamber, Court, Theatre & Assembly 2015
Author affiliation: 
Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts