In the 1760s, a change in the meaning of the French word 'chorégraphie', coined by Feuillet in 1700, coincides with the coming of age of the ballet d'action. At the time when Jean-Georges Noverre, Gasparo Angiolini and others are developing mime dance into a highly elaborate and aesthetically complex stage art, their contemporaries are beginning to use 'chorégraphie' to mean the dramaturgical structure of the work rather than a system of notation. The semantic shift suggests that drama is as fundamental to the ballet d'action as a Feuillet transcription is to danse noble. The analogy is sometimes taken further so that 'chorégraphie' probably refers to a written plot summary or ballet programme. This has many consequences for the way we think about the ballet d'action. Firstly, we should regard the ballet d'action as danced drama rather than dramatic dance, and secondly, ballet programmes are not peripheral to performance, but provide what contemporaries understand to be 'choreographic' information.


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pp. 42-59
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Archived 2009
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