Maurmayr, Bianca. "Venetian Theatrical Dance in Paris: Italian Influence on French Ballet during the Seventeenth Century." In Tanz in Italien, italienischer Tanz in Europa 1400-1900. Für Barbara Sparti (1932-2013). 4. Symposion für Historischen Tanz Burg Rothenfels am Main, 25.-29. Mai 2016. Tagungsband, edited by Uwe Schlottermüller, Howard Weiner and Maria Richter, 121-134. Freiburg: "fa-gisis" Musik- und Tanzedition, 2016.
This paper is about the cultural exchange between Venice and Paris during the Seventeenth-Century, particularly in dance culture, by groups of itinerant artists. In this context, the influence of Venetian artists on Parisian aesthetics in opera and theatrical dance will be analyzed, in a frame of seventeen years (1645-1662). A first encounter with the Venetian theatrical production dates back to 1645, when La finta pazza was performed in Paris. The two main agents of this cultural exchange are the famous set-designer Giacomo Torelli and Giovanni Battista Balbi, one of the most imitated ballet composers of the time in Venice. Which impact did this first choreographic exchange have on French culture? Which characteristics were adopted and which ones were refused? Except from the young dancers who played in La finta pazza, did Balbi encounter other French dancers and/or ballet masters? We will stress on Balbi's significant role in demonstrating dance versatility, expressiveness through pantomime, and fancifulness in France. As Le Nozze di Teti e di Peleo were performed in 1654, France had seized the eclectic aspects and the expressive strength Italian theatrical dance could represent. Especially, France had integrated the idea that song and dance were essential parts of the drama, and had to look for unity of action. As far as Venetian opera was commercialized, networks were created between important cities, as Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples; the French version of Ercole amante (1662) should therefore also be recalled, as an adaptation of Italian theatrical production: Buti's verses were still sung in Italian, but the entrées de ballet were fully French. Stressing on the variety of subjects and styles of Venetian balli, this paper underlines that ballet was not mainly a French invention. Even, it reveals the central role of Venetian artists in the development of French theatrical dance during the middle of the Seventeenth-Century.