How Louis XIV Affected Dance Culture Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

The French are known to be amongst the most courteous people on earth. Their sense of art and fashion stands them out among other cultures not just in Europe but in other parts of the world as well. They are easily identified with their fashion sense, magnificent architecture, mouthwatering cuisine, and elegant dance steps, to mention but a few elements of their rich cultural heritage. In France, the people have a firm grip to most of their age-long traditions and one of the most adorable and highly esteemed of these traditions is dance. The reason for this is not farfetched as it has been an old tradition passed down by the renowned men and women throughout French history. This article explores the exploits made by one of the past leaders of French, Louis XIV; his ascendency to the throne, his impact in the ballroom dance, and how he ruled the kingdom of France and influence Europe with the power of dance.

As it was a norm in ancient French, the nobility status and the monarchy position were always accorded with the highest honor in the land; and the throne was usually the citadel of nobility that would set the trend for all to follow. This had been the tradition when King Louis XIV rose to power in the 17th century. Like his predecessors, his subjects looked up to him as a representation of the customs of the land, and the monarch, in that regard did not fail to live up to their expectation. Being an avid dancer from an early age, the young king who rose to power at the age of five, after the death of his father, made an indelible mark in different cultural aspects of the French kingdom, including dance. Leaving the affairs of governance to Martizin, who was appointed as the minister of state by Louis’ mother, due to his young age. Louis XIV concentrated on the art he loved best - dancing, a skill inherited from his father. At the age of fourteen, he performed an exceptional ballet role where he represented the rising sun (“Dances of the Baroque Era"). The performance earned him his famous alias ‘the Sun King'.

His adorable adornment and dancing steps were usually a combination of beauty and talent which Louis XIV represented (Hilton). The young monarch though had his reign interrupted by a dissent group of nobles called Fronde. The Frondeurs, in their approach challenged the monarch and attempted to reduce the influence of his throne in the land. Their disruption brought a brief moment of distraction in the Louis XIV reign, which slowed down the theatric performances. However, as calm returned in the year 1653 when Louis XIV was then fourteen years old, there was a need for the throne handlers to reestablish people’s confidence in the young king Louis XIV’s government. What better way to do that than employing the adorable art the king was known for?

To bring life back into Paris, Mazarin put forward a very unusual and magnificent spectacle in February 1653 (Hilton). The astounding view of the spectacle and the brilliant performance was a thing of pride for both the nobles and the commoners in the land. It was grandeur to behold the regular theatrical displays and it brought back the enthusiasm in Louis and his people. This continued until March 1661 as this was when Mazarin passed away and Louis was just 23 years old. At this time, the young Louis fully rose to the throne and continued to show his affection for dancing.

The creation of Académie Royale de Danse (Royal Academy of Dance) was a perfect way for Louis to establish his reign in 1661. Having been a victim of the noble revolt which temporarily forced him out of France, the 23 years old King wanted a better way of engaging the nobles and kept them in sight. He believed that in case the noblemen were kept busy attending to issues of the state within the court, they would have no time to plan for another revolt ("The Art of Power"). The academie creation made that possible as dancing skills (which even though had been one of the prerequisites for noble position in France) became more significant, and a requirement for the noblemen to maintain their relevance. The nobles were more engaged perfecting their dance skills like never before.

The academie, however, was not just for the nobles but to the benefit of everyone in France as it was an avenue to prepare the French for involvement in the high society of the French court Rinehart (2017). This made the two most popular dance genres in the court of Louis XI, namely, ballet and ballroom dancing. Both these forms become fashionable to a point where they became a national pride; and “were heavily focused on etiquette, prestige, high society, and on bringing glory to France” (Reinehart 2017). With the active involvement of the king himself, the nobles, and professional dancers in France, Paris became a paragon of art throughout Europe. The dance academie was made one of the best in Europe as it gave space for the nobles and professional dancers to dance side by side. Loiuz, to also affirm the premium he paid on art, appointed ministers for bourgeoisies, in his determination that “his nobles be ornaments, not rivals, to the throne” (Hilton).

The Academie’s Impact in His Government & All over Europe

The academie became a potent instrument of leadership during his reign; it was successful not only in keeping the nobles in check as proposed, but it also kept them happy as well. Yielding better results than Luioz had anticipated, the dance initiative became accepted to everyone; both the commoners and the nobles, without being forced on them. The people were eagerly happy to be part of the dance or spectators watching exceptional dances at the King’s court. The nobles, the professionals and the king himself were always at their best during each performance making everyone happy. The people started to idealize the King as they started cherishing the prowess of the king…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

English, D. N. Dance As A Community Of Practice: Exploring Dance Groups In The Kansas City Area Through The Lifespan. Faculty of The University of Missouri-Kansas City 2015. Accessed 28 Feb. 2019. https://mospace.umsystem.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10355/46424/EnglishDanComPra.pdf?sequence=1 )

Rinehart, A.P. French Society Abroad: The Popularization of French Dance throughout Europe, 1600-1750. Music and Worship, Cedarville University. Musical Offerings. 21 Sep. 2017. Accessed. 28 Feb. 2018 https://digitalcommons.cedarville.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1075&context=musicalofferings

Hilton, W. Dance of the Court & Theatre: The French Noble Style 1690 – 1725. Accessed. 28 Feb. 2019 http://artisanrenovation.com/Baroque_Dance_For_Musicians/Course_Materials_files/Hilton%20Chapter%201.pdf

Powers, R. Dances of the Baroque Era. Accessed. 28 Feb. 2019. https://socialdance.stanford.edu/Syllabi/baroque.htm

Schmid, G. The Art of Power”: How Louis XIV Ruled France …….. With Ballet. The Mag. 15 Mar. 2017. Accessed. 28 Feb. 2019. http://mentalfloss.com/article/93297/art-power-how-louis-xiv-ruled-france-ballet


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