Burlesque Ballet, a Ballad and a Banquet in Ben Jonson's <i>The Gypsies Metamorphos'd</i> (1621)

Marie-claude Canova-green

in Dance Research

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748635849
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671120 | DOI:
Burlesque Ballet, a Ballad and a Banquet in Ben Jonson's The Gypsies Metamorphos'd (1621)

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In summer 1621, George Villiers, then Marquess of Buckingham, invited the king and an exclusive circle of courtiers to inaugurate his newly restored countryside residence Burley-on-the-Hill in Rutland, Lincolnshire. On this occasion, he commissioned Ben Jonson with a masque, The Gypsies Metamorphos’d, in which he himself and various friends performed as dancing, pick-pocketing and palm-reading gipsies. The Gypsies Metamorphos’d was a risqué piece which experimented with innovative features, some of them outrageous. In particular, Jonson and his collaborators drew upon French-style ballet and banqueting fashions which they combined with traditional English music and song. This essay explains the reason for these artistic choices.

Keywords: Ben Jonson; burlesque ballet; ‘Gypsies Metamorphos'd’ (1621); influence of French Court Ballet; the English Masque

Chapter.  5373 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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