Ballet de Cour : A Quest for Perfection
Ballet de Cour arose in at a time of revolutionary scientific and artistic progression. The essence of the age was that everything in the universe abided by logical principles that could be understood with the use of systematic , intellectual reasoning. This was the core ideology at the time of the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. As a consequence, this principle of logic and systematic reasoning was applied in everyday life in the form of etiquette. Beautiful art flourished at this time as well. No establishment better embodied the marriage of technique and artistry in the pursuit for perfection better than the Academie Royale de Danse and the Academie d’Opera , later redubbed the Academie Royale de Musique.
The reign of King Louis XIV brought about numerous advancements in the arts but particularly dance. His interest in dance was sparked at an early age. In 1653, at the age of 14, King Louis XIV starred in his first ballet, La Ballet de La Nuit, as Apollo (the Sun King). He then later established Academie Royale de Danse as well as Acadamie Royale de Musique and Academie d’Opera (The Royal Academies of Dance Opera and Music respectively) . The first dance institution , Acadamie Royale de Danse , was established in 1661. The main standard of the school was, as declared by King Louis XIV, “to restore the art of dancing to its original perfection and improve it as much as possible.” King Louis appointed Pierre Beauchamps as the school’s director. Beauchamps was instrumental in the creation of the chorographical basis of ballet we are familiar with today. Beauchamps was responsible for codifying the five positions for feet and arms.
Another instrumental figure in the world of ballet was Jean Baptista Lully, originally named Giovanni Baptista Lulli. After Pierre Perrin the director of Academie d’Opera at the time(1669) went bankrupt, King Louis XIV appointed Baptista to take Perrin’s position as director of Academie d’Opera which he later renamed Academie Royale de Musique. Jean Baptista Lully composed numerous Operas and ballets in which King Louis XIV starred in. He established a dance institution within Academie Royale de Musique that still exists today as the ballet of the Paris Opera.
Les Arts Florissants presents: Atys- Tragédie en Musique (1676)
This 2011 rendition of Jean Baptista Lully’s Atys will give more of an insight on what the Academie Royale de Musique at to offer. This Opera depicts the tragic love triangle between Sangaride, a wood nymph, who is in love with Atys ,a sheperd, who in turn is loved by the vengeful goddess Cybele.