‘Formeront le Bosquet’: Teenage Future Dance Icons on the Jesuit Stage in Paris

The Jesuit theatre has scarcely been suspected of having been a high-quality baroque dance scene so far. And yet, in the Parisian Jesuit College Louis-le-Grand, well-known professional dancers, choreographers and composers of the Opéra – like Beauchamp, Dupré or Campra – have been in and out for several decades (ca. 1680–1760). What seems to have been missed heretofore is the fact that among the names listed in the ballet scenarios are a few very famous ones: Camargo and Prévost (1728), Noverre (1741 and 1742), and Vestris (1748). Considering the dates of these appearances, one may assume that the Jesuit stage functioned as a rehearsal stage for the teenage future dance icons of the Opéra.

My   paper   aims   at   presenting   and   discussing   the   respective   documents,   also spotlighting the context and aesthetics of Jesuit ballets, with a special focus on the fruitful (one-way) transfer between the Opéra and Louis-le-Grand.

Hanna Walsdorf received her M.A. in Musicology from the University of Bonn (Germany) in 2006 and her Ph.D. in Musicology and Dance Studies from the University of Salzburg (Austria) in 2009; thesis: “Political Instrumentalization of Folk Dance in the German Dictatorships” (published as Bewegte Propaganda, Würzburg: K&N, 2010). From 2009–2013, she was a postdoc research fellow at the Collaborative Research Center 619 “Ritual Dynamics” at the University of Heidelberg (Germany), main publication: Die politische Bühne Ballett und Ritual im jesuitenkolleg Louis-le-Grand, 1701–1762 (Würzburg: K&N, 2012). She now teaches history of dance at the University of Heidelberg and at Mannheim University of Music and Performing Arts. In December 2013, she was awarded the Emmy-Noether Grant by the DFG to set up her independent research group; Project: Ritual Design for the Ballet Stage: Constructions of Popular Culture in European Theatrical Dance (1650–1760). Her research interests include Folk Dance past and present, Baroque Dance and Theater as well as cultural and aesthetic transfer between these fields.



Hanna Walsdorf
Author affiliation
University of Leipzig