From Tragicomedy to Epic: The Court Ballets of Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin

Jérôme de la Gorce

in Dance Research

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748635849
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671120 | DOI:
From Tragicomedy to Epic: The Court Ballets of Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin

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Please Provide (as in Journal Copy) It was customary in the seventeenth century to assimilate court ballet with drama, as both art forms were seen to strive for a common aim: the imitation or representation of nature. However, critics were also keen to point out their essential differences, for, unlike tragedy, ballet disregarded the rules of new-classical aesthetics and its only concern seemed to be to please and to entertain. This was particularly evident in the court ballets written by Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin between 1639 and 1641. Unsurprisingly, they were singled out for special criticism by theorists of the ballet, who highlighted their dramatic shortcomings, and failed to see that they constituted another form of dramatic aesthetics, which was conspicuous precisely because of its emancipation from the structures of Aristotelian theory. It could be said that the ballets of Desmarets had all the hallmarks of contemporary tragicomedy: irregularity of construction, diversity of action, disregard for the unity of tone, etc., but in adapting the principles of this new aesthetics to the ballet, Desmarets ran the risk of transgressing the boundaries of tragicomedy and even of drama, approaching a genre which was no longer dramatic but narratice, i.e. epic poetry.

Keywords: Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin; French Court Ballet; Choreography and Dramatic Forms; the inheritance of Aristotle's rules

Chapter.  5869 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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