The King Who Danced Dec14

The King Who Danced

Louis the XIV, known also as Louis the Sun King, was the King of France from the year 1643 until he died in 1715. He remains the longest-reigning monarch of any European country and was responsible for a great many feats, for better or worse, including the building of Versailles. But he is less well known as a dancer who often starred in performances of the ballet at the time. It is conjectured that Louis’ mother, the Queen, spent so much time with him at the theater and enjoying fine cuisine that, from a young age, Louis XIV also gained a passion for these pastimes as well. The King became the chief patron of the Académie Française. He supported the advancement of Classical French literature and became the backing to such writers as Molière, Racine and La Fontaine, names that we know even now, especially Molière, who’s gifts of satire were unrivaled in Paris. Louis was also the patron of many exceptional artists of the period, including Charles Le Brun and Pierre Mignard. But in the realm of music, composers and musicians such as Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jacques Champion de Chambonnières, and François Couperin were the backbone of the King’s personal interests and these musicians, Lully especially, often contributed to the production of ballets. Louis was a danseur who performed around eighty roles in forty different ballets. It could be argued that King Louis was practically a professional dancer as the number of performances rivals those of a truly dedicated artist. Louis not only performed in traditional ballet but also took roles in Molière’s comédies-ballets, which were an art form that combined drama with dancing. At one point in his dancing career, King Louis performed as Apollo and Neptune in the same performance of a...

Baroque and The Three Musketeers Nov09

Baroque and The Three Musketeers...

If you are a big fan of The Three Musketeers, whether through various movie adaptations or because you’ve read the works of Alexandre Dumas, then you’ve certainly remarked that unmistakable flair in costume and setting that comes with the novel’s particular genre. The Three Musketeers is an action and adventure story set during the reign of King Louis XIII and set in the middle of the French Period of Baroque art. In short, we revisit the seventeenth century as we dash around a pastoral French countryside sporting royal blue and fighting with crimson red. During this century, art took on a much more lively form, or a style, that brought about a kind of drama and opulence rarely seen in art before. A good analogy would be to compare art before the Baroque period to a high school choir, and art during the Baroque period to going to your first operatic performance of Wagner in a grand theater. It’s big and it’s showy like a fantastic opera. The Baroque style of art was just beginning in Louis’ father’s final years, around the start of 1600. It’s useful to know that Louis’ father, Henry IV was a protestant in a Catholic country during the Protestant Reformation, and later converted to Catholicism in order to keep his state. The personal tale of a King and his future son threads into the larger story of a Catholic Church which had decreed during the Council of Trent that art should express religious themes with grandeur and more dramatic tension in order to evoke strong emotion. In other words, they wanted people to have the feels. Parisian architecture was not exempt from this and there are entire books devoted to the subject of Henry IV’s architecture and urbanism before...