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New Directions in Ancient Pantomime$
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Edith Hall and Rosie Wyles

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199232536

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199232536.001.0001

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Ancient Pantomime and the Rise of Ballet

Ancient Pantomime and the Rise of Ballet

(p.363) 16 Ancient Pantomime and the Rise of Ballet
New Directions in Ancient Pantomime

Edith Hall (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

It was ancient pantomime's destiny to play a seminal role in the emergence of classical ballet, and subsequently, in the twentieth century, of avant‐garde Tanztheater. It is well known that the founding fathers of opera in the Florentine Camerata looked to ancient myth, and above all what they believed to have been the all‐sung form taken by ancient theatrical tragic performances, as the model for their new medium. But considerably less exposure has been given to the genealogy traced by the inventors of ballet in Enlightenment Italy, Spain, France and England, to the dancers described in the ancient texts on pantomime. The ancient dances, brought to such a high level of artistry and skill by the ancient star performers named Pylades or Bathyllus, Hylas, or Paris, fundamentally informed, many centuries later, the nature of modern dance theatre in Early Modern culture. The final chapter in this volume therefore briefly outlines some of the uses to which some late seventeenth‐ and eighteenth‐century dance theorists, such as Weaver and Noverre, put their knowledge of ancient pantomime in their treatises on dance.

Keywords:   pantomime, ballet, opera, Early Modern Culture, Enlightenment, treatise, Weaver, Noverre

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