Monstrous performances

  • Dancers:  Moira Goff, Ken Pierce, Jennifer Thorp
  • Musicians: David Gordon, Evelyn Nallen

Apollo commands amazement and respect with an entrée full of complex jumps, beats, and turns. Venus charms and seduces in an intensely expressive passacaille.  Dryades mark out precise rhythms in a danced canary, while Bacchantes subvert the same dance type with apparently wild steps and attitudes.  These are some of the tours de force, monstrous performances in terms of virtuosity and expressiveness beyond the ordinary, which were demanded of leading dancers by audiences in Paris and London by the early eighteenth-century, and which were recorded by the notators of the day. The use of gesture appropriate to monstrous characters can also provide clues to the likely visual impact of stage movement and dances for which no choreographies survive. This presentation explores the surprising effects which early eighteenth-century dancers were able to achieve, and looks at ways in which these theatrical choreographies can be restored to, or inform what might happen on, the modern stage.

Airs and Graces, UK
Symposium Title: 
Gods, Men and Monsters – 2001