Daye, Anne. "Dancing at Court: ‘the art that all Arts doe approve’." In Performances at Court in the Age of Shakespeare, edited by Sophie Chiari and John Mucciolo, 137-149. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
This chapter discusses the nature of court dancing in England, placing it in the context of European court culture and changes across time. The chapter focuses especially on the court masque, with an emphasis on continuity and change from Tudor to Jacobean practice. The court dancer was at the heart of the performance, as a masque transformed social dancing into a theatrical performance: in other words, a ballet de cour. Elizabeth maintained the practice of masquing for seasonal celebration and significant hospitality. However, James I enhanced the genre to underpin and consolidate the new Stuart dynasty. Investigation of the Jacobean masque from the perspective of a dance historian reveals the efforts to make the dance entries more histrionic, leading to the professional antimasque, in order to convey more vividly the central message or moral of the masque to an audience of diplomats. In developing a new mode of pantomimic dancing, a rich vein of invention in dance emerged. The new form of mute expression was swiftly adopted by Shakespeare into plays after 1609; as other playwrights followed his innovation, the dance content of drama expanded.