Dances and dancers in the Ballet de la Nuit
The livret of the Ballet de la Nuit names over a hundred of the performers, from Louis XIV, his brother, members of the French Court and visiting members of the exiled English Court, to professional actors and dancers, and children. The costume designs preserved at Waddesdon and elsewhere, and the comments of 17th century dance writers like St Hubert and Menestrier, suggest that while some of the performers may have simply processed on and off stage in appropriate character, many of them danced or acted out pantomimic scenes. The livret idetifies only a few specific dance types: figured courtants, branles ‘in the old style’, and a sarabande, some of which also appear in the 1705 (incomplete) transcript of the music score. No choreography however survives. This paper looks at the evidence for who danced, what they might have danced, and how they may have danced, in 1653.