Jean-Georges Noverre and his luxurious ‘job application’ to Warsaw

In the course of his illustrious carrier, Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810) was employed as a ballet master in Lyon, Stuttgart, Vienna, Milan, Paris and London. Since 1766, when he finished his engagement at the court of the Prince of Wurttemberg, Noverre was always searching for another employer who would be able to offer him such a good conditions as he had in Stuttgart. Nevertheless, according to his own writing, this search was in vain. Noverre was very well informed about the cultural situation in Europe and so the applications he sent to the different sovereigns were definitely not random. Already in 1766 Noverre sent a huge,

eleven-volume manuscript in red leather with examples of his work to the Polish King Stanislas August Poniatowski, a big lover of the arts. This document included a revised version of Noverres Lettre sur la danse (under the different title Théorie et Pratique de la Danse simple et Composée etc.), the programmes and music scores of his ballets, and the ballet costume designs by Louis-René Boquet. It is still the biggest and the most complete collection of Noverre’s work, which is still not quite accessible and well studied. Detailed research of this document unveils remarkable differences between the hand-written Théorie et Pratique de la danse and other editions of Lettres sur la danse – the title itself indicates slightly different approach of the author who was probably seeking for more “scientific” appearance. Interesting is also the part where Noverre reflects his Stuttgart period. Regarding the costume designs, some of them are provided with detailed descriptions of how the clothes are made, including the prices of the materials. Curiously enough, despite his own progressive theories about the costumes, the designs seem to be rather old-fashioned, comparing to Boquet's designs later which are part of the so-called “Stockholm manuscript” from 1792. In my paper I would like to present my research on the “Warsaw manuscript”, its quite adventurous history (which is connected with the sad history of the city of Warsaw) and its contents that provide us with yet more information about ballet master Jean-Georges Noverre and his work.

Petra Dotlačilová graduated from the Italian-Czech Lyceum and the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University, Prague. Currently she studies the doctoral programme in Dance Studies at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. In 2009/2010 she spent a year as an Erasmus student in France (Université Blaise Pascal Clermont-Ferrand, Université Paris X Nanterre - Paris), during which she helped organise the Dance Festival ZOOOUM #1 Evénement Danses Contemporaines. In October 2010 she participated in the Paris International Conference dedicated to Jean-Georges Noverre and presented a paper on his influence on Czech ballet in the 18th century. She also took part in the Erasmus programmes on Dance Movement of Past and Present (IPEDAM) at the Norwegian University of Science

and Technology in Trondheim in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Her research specialization is 18th century ballet in the Czech Republic, France and Italy; she is working on analyses of theoretical texts and ballet librettos from this period, and has published in several dance and musical periodicals and anthologies (Tanec a společnost, Živá hudba, Musicorum). In 2013 her master’s dissertation was published in Prague under the title Vývoj baletu-pantomimy v osvícenské Evropě. She is a regular reviewer of ballet and dance performances for the internet dance magazine Taneční

Petra Dotlačilová
Author affiliation
Academy of Performing Arts, Prague