By going into print, the ballet master, dancer, and writer on dance, Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), helped to set the tone for major reforms in theatrical dance and furthered the development of a style of dramatic pantomime-ballet which would become known as ballet d’action. His dancing style and his ballets were taken up by some of his pupils, several of whom became leading choreographers in their own right, and thereby increased the impact of Noverre’s work during and after his lifetime. His major publication, Lettres sur la danse, is a key text which is the primary reason for interest in Noverre today, and its first English translation, The Works of Monsieur Noverre translated from the French, which appeared in 1782, is the focus of this volume. Lettres sur la danse was completed in the autumn of 1759, with a publication date of 1760, and appeared in numerous editions including those of Vienna (1767), Amsterdam (1787), St Petersburg (1803-4), and Paris (1807). The text, which is presented as near as is possible to its 18th-century form, is accompanied by an introduction and commentary, and by eight illustrated essays by dance historians and musicologists, which shed light on aspects of Noverre’s career, and on the development of his theories.
Michael Burden, New College, University of Oxford
Michael Burden is Professor in Opera Studies at Oxford University, and Fellow in Music at New College, where he is also Dean. His published research is on the stage music of Henry Purcell, and on aspects of dance and theatre in the London theatres of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. He is currently completing a volume on the staging of opera in London between 1660 and 1860; his five-volume collection of opera documents, London Opera Observed, and his study of the London years of the soprano Regina Mingotti were both published in 2013. A new volume - edited with Jennifer Thorp - entitled The works of Monsieur Noverre translated from the French: Noverre, his circle, and the English Lettres sur la danse has just been published; it includes the 18th-centruy English translation of Noverre’s seminal text. He is the Past President of the British Society for Eighteenth-century Studies, a Visitor to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and Director of Productions of New Chamber Opera, www.newchamberopera.co.uk
An archivist and dance historian with a particular interest in seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century dance for court and theatre in France and England. For a number of years she performed in baroque ensembles and opera productions in the UK, USA, and Europe, and taught baroque theatre dance at Middlesex University, Bedford Campus. She has contributed numerous articles to academic journals and works of reference, and has a long-standing research interest in the careers of the dancing-masters Mr Isaac and Anthony L’Abbé, and in other French dancers who worked in London between 1660 and 1760. Her edition of F. Le Roussau’s manuscript collection of New Ball- and Stage Dances of 1720 was published in 2008, and she is currently working on a book-length study of Mr Isaac.