Quarrelling Brothers: The establishment of the Académie Royale de Danse and changes in dance teaching

The foundation of the Parisian Académie Royale de Danse by royal decree in 1661 was, at first sight, a step towards enforcing welcome regulations which would ensure the creation and teaching of dances without the alleged ‘abuses’ from rogue practitioners. However, its establishment was shrouded by political and socio-economical intrigue and arguments, which saw members of the Confrèrie de Saint Julien – a slowly decaying institution heretofore responsible for jointly supervising (and taxing) musicians and dancers engaged in teaching and performing – stand in fierce opposition. The paper will investigate some of the arguments of the parts involved and what changes it posed in the teaching of dance. It shall also endeavour to highlight the ‘common good’ which both parts seemed to defend, but which unfortunately ended up embroiled in petty bickering by estranged confrères.  
Ricardo Barros has a mixed background in music and dance, and adopts an interdisciplinary approach in his academic output - most notably in his published thesis Dance as a Discourse: the rhetorical expression of Passions in French Baroque dance. Other research interests also include the inheritance of Iberian dances and street festivities in the contemporary Brazilian folk culture and the Carnaval parade. He is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, and also the chairman of the EADH-European Association of Dance Historians, which congregates an international membership of dance scholars and promotes academia through the organisation of conferences and the publication of its journal Choreologica. As a choreographer and performer he appears with his Mercurius Company, and as a guest Baroque dancer and teacher mainly in Holland, Germany and Italy.   


Nicolette Moonen grew up in Amsterdam and moved to live in London in 1992. She is professor of baroque violin at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and has led ensembles such as Collegium Vocale Gent, La Chapelle Royale, and Ex Cathedra. She has a special affinity for French music – dance music in particular – and from 1998 to 2013 she directed the baroque orchestra at Dartington, where the projects centred around the instrumental dance music of Rameau’s operas. In 1996 Nicolette founded The Bach Players of which she is the artistic director. The group’s concert programmes paint pictures of musical issues and themes of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe; eight of these programmes have been released on CD with the Hyphen Press Music label. More information can be found at www.thebachplayers.org.uk.  


Ricardo Barros
Nicolette Moonen
Symposium Title: 
Teaching Dance 2016
Author affiliation: 
Royal Academy of Music