Re-thinking “teaching dance” The dancing masters and “dances in characters”

From 1700 to about 1760, a publishing phenomenon spread in Europe, about and through Chorégraphie (that is, “the art of dancing by characters”) – following the publication of its principles in Paris, in 1700. Thanks to this scriptural art, hundreds of “dances engraven in characters and figures” were published. Those documents are well known by dance historians – but their link with new teaching projects remains to be explored. First, “dances in characters” is an educational project: they were meant to set the user’s body into motion through the very act of reading. What novel paths towards the self-reliance of this reader-cum-dancer do they explore?

Besides, for the dancing masters resorting to Chorégraphie, this new activity was a way to redefine their own assignments and statuses, by taking hold of the world of print, changing their ways of working, and setting the conditions for the exercise of critical and collaborative thinking: what does ‘teaching dance’ mean when dancing masters write texts instead of giving dance lessons? This abstract (which originates from my doctoral thesis defended in 2014 at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, under the title “Choreographic Enlightenment: European dancing masters at the heart of a publishing phenomenon, 1700-1760” directed by Georges Vigarello), sits at the crossroads between the history of the uses of the written word, the history of cultural exchanges, and the history of the body.

Marie Glon completed in 2014 her doctorate : Les Lumières chorégraphiques. Les maîtres de danse européens au cœur d'un phénomène éditorial (1700-1760), under the direction of Georges Vigarello (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris). From 2003 to 2015, she was editor-in-chief for Repères, cahier de danse, edited by the Briqueterie / Centre de développement chorégraphique du Val-de-Marne ( In September 2015, she was appointed ‘maître de conférences’ (teacher and researcher) by Lille 3 University. She continues her researches on dance, in its historical and aesthetic aspects, within the Centre d’Etude des Arts Contemporains, 

Marie Glon
Symposium Title: 
Teaching Dance 2016
Author affiliation: 
Université Lille 3