Saturday, May 5, 2018

Ballet and Noverre

From The Hindu:
A product of his times, Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), was very much a son of the era of French Enlightenment. He is believed to have been the man who literally took ballet out from the courts where it languished as a pastime or divertissement, as it was called in the day, and turned it into a vehicle of elegant storytelling, thereby helping it gain in stature as an independent art form to be reckoned with known as ballet d’action or ballet of action.

In order to truly appreciate Noverre’s beliefs and his motivation behind his most celebrated work ‘Lettres Sur La Danse (1760)’ it is important to understand the intellectual environment of the times that he lived in. Eighteenth century France was a nation in ferment with new ideas and thoughts, where writers and thinkers like Rousseau and Voltaire wielded much influence in artistic and cultural circles. Rousseau was an advocate of naturalism and in his La Nouvelle Heloise, criticised the ballet of the day, of being devoid of substance and dramatic reason, thereby lacking in purpose. Extending the idea of ‘naturalism’ to ballet, Noverre propounded that artificiality and empty movements be jettisoned in favour of expressiveness and emotionality. (Read more.)

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