'Dancing Words'? Mimetic Dance and its Text-interpretive Function

Dances are one of the earliest elements of the performing arts. Already in the 'Dionysia' of antiquity dancers, narrators and choirs interacted with each other. With the renaissance of the Roman comedy in the quattrocento, dance intermedia were used to interpret the dramatic stories. In the early modern period, mimetic dances often formed part of the scenes of comedies, tragedies or liturgical dramas. The sources partly contain choreographic instructions that allow a check of the coherence of text and dance. Thus, in this paper, it is to be discussed whether there was a choreographic pattern by which the meaning of certain words and passage were interpreted - similar to the musical figures of the baroque vocal music. Which poetic elements could be illustrated by dance as well as mimic, gesture and pantomime? Examples of these discourse include parts of intermedia, ballets de cour, opéra-ballets and drammi per musica. 

Uta Dorothea Sauer
Author affiliation
Technische Universität Dresden