The Story of Johann Baptista Danese – Dancer and Ballet Master of Private Noble Theatres in Bohemia and Moravia

After the fabulous coronation festivities in 1723, when Charles VI of Habsburg had been crowned in Prague as King of Bohemia, the nobility of the Czech Lands fell in love with Italian opera. Most of them started to establish their own private noble theatres at their estates in Bohemia and Moravia.

Among them was Johann Adam Questenberg who had a castle in South Moravia called Jaromeritz (Jaroměřice nad Rokytnou in Czech). There he established a serf theatre and started to seek adequate dancers and a ballet master, as for this profession he could not engage anybody from his home serfs (unlike from the singers, musicians and even a composer). He found Johann Baptista Danese from the quite famous dynasty of theatre artists, who was in his service for 17 years, but had to work also as a forester.

My paper will follow the destiny of this artist, how he fled from the service of Questenberg to Vienna to open a coffeehouse there, how he worked for other noblemen and finally begged Count Questenberg to take him back into service after he lost all his property.

Against the background of this unhappy case I will try to reveal the situation of the professional dancers in Central Europe, who did not belong to the Court Theatre but at the same time were not members of the travelling companies; they were “something in between”, trying to find good service at the palace Theatres of the nobility.

Helena Kazárová
Symposium Title: 
Living, dancing, travelling, dying... 2013
Author affiliation: 
Academy of Performing Arts in Prague