Book Project

Ballet in the Age of the Encyclopédie

Emphasizing Enlightenment ballet’s construction through print culture, Ballet in the Age of the Encyclopédie shows how ballet’s definition evolved over the second half of the eighteenth century and how the recycling and recombining of discourses about movement directly affected the process of defining ballet. Tracing the multiplication of dance theory texts between 1751 and 1810, the project examines how dance theorists relied on literary models for their reforms, how dance was taken on by thinkers focused in other disciplines, and how ballet shifted from being conceived of as a form of theater emphasizing the body to being defined as narrative dance. Finally, it recounts the manner in which the dissemination of these ideas, through dance treatises, encyclopedias, and piecemeal publications of articles, helped to shape the changing balletic landscape. Ballet in the Age of the Encyclopédie asks: Why was ballet so highly valued by prominent thinkers during the Enlightenment? Why did this cease to be the case in the nineteenth century? How did this shift contribute to the fashioning of ballet into its modern form? And how did the ways in which these discourses circulated shape the discourses themselves?