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Meet The Artists

Biography

Pierre Beauchamps

danse d’ecole / l’Académie Royale de Musique et de Danse / comédie-ballet

(1631-1705)

Pierre Beauchamps (also known as Beauchamp) was a central figure in the development of ballet in France during the 17th century. He was instrumental in the development of danse d'ecole or schooled dance, and directed l'Académie Royale de Musique et de Danse, which was established by King Louis XIV in 1661. The five classical positions of the arms and feet, the movements of the arms and ninety-degree turnout of the legs were introduced as part of the attempt to create a system of dance training.

Beauchamps is personally credited with developing new and technically difficult steps, particularly the tour en l'air – a turning jump. He also emphasized the verticality of the torso that has become a hallmark of ballet. Beauchamps's production of Le Triomphe de l'amour (1681) marked the first time that women were allowed to perform on stage as professional dancers.

While collaborating with the French playwright Molière, in plays such as Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (1670), Beauchamps helped to cultivate a new type of theatrical dance called comédie-ballet. In comédie-ballet, dance was integrated into the plot instead of merely serving as an interlude between scenes.

Learn more:

Harris-Warwick, Rebecca and Carol G. Marsh. Musical Theatre at the Court of Louis XIV. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.