Lifting the Mask of Mademoiselle Horibilicribrifaxin: Dutch Prints of Dancing Dwarfs

In the first half of the 18th century the Nurenberg publisher Johan Jacob Wolrab, a man dear to the hearts of dance historians for his edition of Gregorio Lambranzi’s Neue und Curieuse Teatrialische Tanz-Schul, published a curious set of prints, accompanied by short poems, of dancing dwarves entitled Zwergen-Tanz-Schule. These images were re-printed, decked out with new and expanded poetic mottos, in both Holland and England. Far from mocking small people, these prints satirize the hubris of society’s crème de la crème, and offer witty commentary of the mores of the great and grand in the countries where they were printed. This paper will examine the evolution of several of these prints, and at the same time demonstrate how essential la belle danse was to the identity of the 18th-century cultural elite.

Jed Wentz
Symposium Title: 
Dance and Image – 2009
Author affiliation: 
University of Leiden and Amsterdam Conservatory