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...