Mar 03 2011
It is hard to imagine that French ballet would really take off without constant patronage, funding and financial support of King of France Louis XIV called The Sun King. People may view his life and policies negatively but we do not intend to go into that in a simple blog post. There is just one thing we know for sure – Louis loved ballet and ballet dancing.
The Sun King frequently danced in court ballets during the early half of his reign. He danced four parts in 3 of Molière’s comédies-ballets. When Louis danced at court ballets, his performances were accompanied by majestic music by Jean-Baptiste Lully and lyrics that expressed royal power and benevolence of the king. Louis danced as long as he could until he gained weight and could not perform anymore.
Philippe Beaussant the most famous expert on French baroque music created a biography of Jean-Baptiste Lully which served as the basis of the film Le Roi Danse (The King Is Dancing). In the year 2000, Belgian director Gérard Corbiau made a beautiful film which is a must see for any ballet lover and anybody who would like to learn more about history of ballet. This extravagant and this lavish costume drama depicts the rise of the Sun King through the eyes of the composer Jean-Baptiste Lully. King’s power and growing influence are presented through the elaborate ballet dance routines.
It took several years for this film to get the English titles, so now it is available to English-speaking audience as well as French. Here is an extract that we found for you. It is in French but it shows some of the best dances in the movie and the birth of the official French ballet.