The Styles of Eighteenth-Century Ballet
(2003 Scarecrow Press)

Styles of 18CThe current notion of ballet history holds that the theatrical dance of the eighteenth century was simple, earthbound, and limited in range of motion, scarcely different from the ballroom dance of the same period. Contemporary opinion also maintains that this early form of ballet was largely a stranger to the tours de force of grand jumps, multiple turns, and lifts so typical of classical ballet, owing to a supposed prevailing sense of Victorian-like decorum. The Styles of Eighteenth-Century Ballet explodes this utterly false view of ballet history, showing that there were in fact a variety of different styles of dance cultivated in this era, from the simple to the remarkably difficult, from the dignified earthbound to the spirited airborne, from the gravely serious to the grotesquely ridiculous. This is a fascinating exploration of the various styles of eighteenth-century dance covering ballroom and ballet, the four traditional styles of theatrical dance, regional preferences for given styles, and the importance of caprice, dance according to gender, the overall voluptuous nature of stage dancing, and finally dance notation and costume. Fairfax takes the reader on an in-depth journey through the world of ballet in the age of Mozart, Boucher, and Casanova. (Click here or here to buy).


Well-researched . . . Recommended (CHOICE)

A scholarly, well-researched, but very readable work on the development of ballet in the 1700s . . . Even non-history buffs will want to invest in [this] book. (Dancer)

An enormously valuable work of scholarship. (Eighteenth-Century Studies)

This forthright book addresses many misconceptions surrounding eighteenth-century dance. Its author, schooled in music, fashion design, languages, classical ballet and Baroque dance, is well placed to address these myths . . . Fairfax’s careful selection and shaping of copious quotations from primary sources should convince all but the most blinkered reader that this period’s dances and dancers were anything but primitive . . . a wealth of new material and interpretations . . . This book is planned as the first in a series of three studies: volume two will consider technique, while the final volume will cover pantomime ballet. Fairfax has challenged many of our perceptions with a clear-sighted approach to constructing history, working from the declared philosophy that a historical document read in isolation is not actual “history”. Given Fairfax’s striking conclusions and the breadth of his reading, we can anticipate that the other volumes will also break new ground in dance history. (Eighteenth-Century Music)

Explores an important subject that has received little attention in the past, has been treated piecemeal when it did, and is finally tackled here with confidence, over a broad base of data . . . The project is colossal, the material is rich, and the book is dense with quotations, packed with fascinating information that the reader must absorb at the frenzied pace set by an author who capers his way up and down the eighteenth century and back and forth across European borders . . . Fairfax’s gift to dance history is substantial. (Dance Chronicle)


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