Pastoral and the ballet-pantomime

Can you have a 'pastoral' ballet-pantomime? Pastoral is notable for its lack of action (love is always doomed to succeed, satyrs doomed to fail in their efforts to frustrate lovers, and happiness inevitably revived), whereas ballet-pantomime has nothing but action (no récit, no récitative, no words or lyrics). Pastoral is remarkable for its limited gamut of emotions, ranging from light gaiety to tenderness, yet the ballet-pantomime is capable of staging anything from elation to tragedy. Pastoral is one of the most rigidly conventional, not to say stereotyped genres, yet ballet-pantomime is in constant evolution in the eighteenth century and thrives on eclectic compositions. Despite these salient differences, the fact is that pastoral themes are recurrent in the works of Hilverding, Noverre and Angiolini. This paper will explore this phenomenon and suggest ways of understanding the ballet-pantomime pastoral.

Edward Nye
Symposium Title: 
Dance and the Pastoral - 2005
Author affiliation: 
Lincoln College, Oxford