The Role of Dance in the Political Ballets at the Court of Dresden

The Court of Dresden was one of the first residences where rulers copied the “ballet de cour”. Italian, English and French dancers had worked in Dresden since 1550 and the performances of the early dance pieces in 1615 were the start of a long ballet tradition.

It appears that the transfer of culture did  not  influence  response  selection  processes alone but also involved other themes. The Electors of Saxony used the genre ballet for political communication better than other German rulers. This was because their special position between the German Emperor and the Protestants required a high degree of diplomacy. In this context, the masters of dance designed pieces to suit the taste and political will of the Elector. This process culminated in the creation of the genre opera-ballet in 1678.

This paper gives an insight into the special stylistic forms of the political ballets with special focus on the role of dance. The intention of a contemporary study should be to show the different motifs in the “pas de deux” or “pas seul” in contrast to the “corps de ballets”. In this context, questions concerning the function of dance in politics are discussed.

Uta Dorothea Sauer studied Musicology, Social Science and History at the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science of the Technische Universität Dresden and Psychology at the Faculty of Science, Department of Psychology (TU Dresden). During this time (1999-2005) she had worked at the European Centre for the Arts in Hellerau and at the Medical Academy "Carl Gustav Carus" in Dresden. She is interested in Music Psychology, Science of Dance and European Music History (1600-1900), with a focus on Dresden Music. Her subject-study is about Johann Christoph Schmidt, a Dresden court conductor, focusing on music theatre in the 17th century, in particular the “Ballet de cour” and “opéra-ballet”. In 2009, she received a scholarship by the European Social Fund (ESF) to write her dissertation about the “Ballet” at the Dresden court. Her research was published in the proceedings Poet and Peaeceptor, Christian Weise (1642-1708) zum 300. Geburtstag (2009), Johann Georg Pisendel (2011), Seventeenth-Century Ballet (2011), and was presented at Congresses in Warsaw (2006), Zürich (2007), London (2010) and Rome (2010). Furthermore she is supporting the dramaturgy of Dresdner Kreuzchor (2010), of the Festival on Baroque Music during the celebrations “Dresden800” (2006) and of the Festival “Robert Schumann in Dresden” by the Sächsisches Vocalensemble (2010- 2014). Since 2008, she has worked at the Institute of Art and Music at TU Dresden in the context of Conferences on the composers Robert Schumann (2008, 2010), Richard Wagner (2013) and Richard Strauss (2014).


Uta Dorothea Sauer
Symposium Title: 
The dancer in celebrity in the long 18th-century 2014
Author affiliation: 
Technische Universität Dresden