Louis XIV as performer and patron of dance

The dual attributes of Apollo and the Sun, portrayed through dance as well as every other aspect of culture, were firmly associated with the public images of both Louis XIII and - to much greater effect - his son Louis XIV. The latter danced as either Apollo or le Soleil in several ballets de cour and other court entertainments between 1653 and 1669, and continued to regard dance as an integral part of court culture throughout most of his reign. His creation of the Académie Royale de Danse was a practical way of extending his patronage of both the teaching and performance of dance, and his continuation of the privilège system to protect and control publishing in France particularly benefited the dance notator Raoul-Anger Feuillet, and thereby preserved a number of dances from both ballroom and theatre repertoires.

Two collections of dances published in 1700 record four dances set to music from ballets de cour of the 1650s and 1660s. Among them is Feuillet’s own composition of a dance set to the music for the King’s solo as le Soleil in the Ballet de Flore of 1669, a ballet which was revived by Pierre Beauchamps for performances at Versailles in 1688. This paper discusses Feuillet’s dance of 1700, and the possible light it might throw on what the King himself may have watched in 1688 or even danced in 1669.

Jennifer Thorp
Symposium Title: 
Roi Soleil and Soleil Dieu – 2003
Author affiliation: 
Regent’s Park College, Oxford