Jean Dauberval


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(orig. Jean Bercher; b Montpellier, 19 Aug. 1742; d Tours, 14 Feb. 1806)

French dancer, choreographer, and ballet master. He studied at the Paris Opera Ballet School with Noverre and danced in Bordeaux and Lyons before joining the Paris company in 1761. Between 1762 and 1764 he danced under Noverre in Stuttgart as well as working at London's King's Theatre as dancer and choreographer (1763–4) and dancing in Paris where he was promoted premier danseur demi-caractère in 1763 and premier danseur noble in 1773. In the same year he was also appointed assistant ballet master, first to Vestris and later M. Gardel, resigning following differences with the latter in 1783. He was renowned as a dramatically expressive dancer but is now best remembered as a choreographer. He created his first work in 1759 during a season at Turin but his most famous ballet, La Fille mal gardée, was created in Bordeaux where he was ballet master (1785–90). Influenced by Noverre's theories of the ballet d'action, Dauberval was one of the first choreographers to create ballets about ordinary people—handling both serious and comic subjects and weaving together dance and mime with unusual subtlety. His other works included Le Déserteur (1784) and Le Page inconstant (after Beaumarchais's Le Mariage de Figaro, 1787). His pupils included Didelot, Aumer, and S. Viganò and he was married to the dancer Mlle Théodore.

Subjects: Dance.

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