Pierre Rameau


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(b Cirea, 1674; d Nanterre, 26 Jan. 1748)

French dancer, ballet master, and theorist, whose books are a crucial source of our knowledge of 18th-century dance. He danced at the Lyon Opera (1703–5) and possibly at the Paris Opera (c.1710–13) and was dancing master to the pages of the Queen of Spain. He was later dancing master in the house of Louise Élisabeth de Montpensier (second dowager Queen of Spain). In 1725 he published Le Maître à danser in Paris which became the standard dance handbook of the age, including detailed descriptions of the floor patterns, steps, and structure of many social dances as well as their style of execution. These, invaluably, flesh out the rather basic dance notations which have survived from the period, written in the Beauchamps/Feuillet system. Six months later he published his own modification of that system in Abrégé de la nouvelle méthode de l'art d'écrire ou de tracer toutes sortes de danses de ville, although this book had much less public success. An English edition of The Dancing Master was translated and published by C. W. Beaumont (London, 1931).

Subjects: Dance.

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