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Dotlačilová, Petra. "Picturing Horror: Costumes for Furies on the French stage from 1650 to 1766."

Dotlačilová, Petra. "Picturing Horror: Costumes for Furies on the French stage from 1650 to 1766." In Terpsichore and her Sisters: The Relationship between Dance and other Arts [Proceedings of the Early Dance Circle Conference held on 8-10 April 2016], edited by Georgina Boyes, 51-66. Cambridge: Early Dance Circle, 2017.


Scenes of hell or underworld were common moments (occasions?) for dancers to appear on the 17th and 18th century stage. From the ballet de cour Les Noces de Pélée et de Thétis (1654) to Noverre’s ballets d’action such as Medée et Jason (1763), from Lully’s tragedies Alceste and Thésée (1675) to Gluck’s Orpheo ed Euridice (1762), the infernal characters appeared in most of the tragic stories inspired by mythology. Such scenes demanded exaggerated expressiveness in movement and design alike. Furies and demons were supposed to scare the heroes but also the audiences: their dance was fast and wild, full of high leaps and turns; acrobatic routines were not unusual.

Another group that I would like to include in this presentation will be the principal characters of sorceresses, Armidas and Médeas, fascinating personalities that are of high status and evil at the same time.

Thanks to the great amount of visual material that is preserved in French and Swedish archives, we can follow the development of the art of depicting these horror creatures. My main questions regarding these sources are: Which symbols and signs were characteristic for them? How did the movement influence the designs? Were there any constant features that prevailed through all the researched period? Was the representation of these creatures rather traditional or might it be seen as revolutionary in relation to development of balletic costume design?

Year of publication: 2017

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