Grotesque dance

Grotesque dance (French: danse grotesque; Italian: ballo grottesco Italian: danza grottesca) is a category of theatrical dance that became more clearly differentiated in the 18th century and was incorporated into ballet, although it had its roots in earlier centuries. As opposed to the danse noble or "noble dance" performed in royal courts which emphasised beauty of movement and noble themes, grotesque dances were comic or lighthearted and created for buffoons and commedia dell'arte characters. In 16th and 17th centuries grotesque dances were often presented as an anti-masque, performed between the acts of more serious courtly entertainments. Likewise, the 17th century ballet a entrées (a series of loosely connected tableaux rather than a continuous dramatic narrative) sometimes contained grotesque sequences, most notably those devised by the Duke of Nemours for the court of Louis XIII.

Some of the grotesque performers were physically deformed, but the Italian tradition of ballo grottesco, typified by the dancer and choreographer, Gennaro Magri whose career was at its apex in the 1760s, involved a high degree of virtuosity and athleticism. Ballets which contain grotesque dances or consist solely of grotesque dance include Campra's Le jaloux trompé and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé (Dorcon's dance in Part 1). Dancers who excelled in the grotesque genre besides Magri included Margrethe Schall and John D'Auban


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