Ange Goudar – a scoundrel against the ballet pantomime

Ange Goudar was a compulsive pamphleteer with an acidulous pen. Among his writings – some published anonymously or under name of Sara Goudar – the booklets concerning music and dance can be read as a manifesto against the ballet pantomime.  Though his attacks against the ballet pantomime started as early as 1759, they intensify in the seventies while he was staying in Italy. Such attacks appear at a time when the new “danse théâtrale” was imposing itself on the Italian stages through Noverre, Angiolini and their disciples. He was not alone in questioning the legitimacy of the ballet pantomime, targeted also by many men of letters closed to the wings of the Italian opera houses who felt menaced by the continuous growth of this new kind of dance. Goudar’s pamphlets are bibliographical rarities, many have disappeared and others come eventually to light, as well as the responses to the sarcastic, and sometimes infamous, verve of Goudar.  One of those, signed Antonio Piazza (1776), was most likely by Casanova, first an accomplice of Goudar and then a foe, and it is at the origin of more polemical change of public letters, few of then still available in the Venetian libraries. All these writings offer a certain vision of the dance scene at the beginning of the last quarter of the 18th century and the goal of the present paper will be to frame the opinions of Goudar within the Italian dance scene.

José Sasportes
Symposium Title: 
Dancing in the theatre of Europe in the long 18th century 2012
Author affiliation: 
La Danza Italiana, Venice