2014, “Le Triomphe de Bacchus dans les Indes” (1666) & “Le Triomphe de l’Amour”” (1681): Two French court ballets

In this paper I will analyze the court-ballet “Le Triomphe de l’Amour”, as a typical example of displaying the political power through the dance and theater’s idioms and conventions of the time. Created after 15 years of French presence in India, it was represented for the first time in 1681 to celebrate the marriage of Louis XIV’s son. In the history of French court-dancing it also signed the first appearance on the stage of four female professional dancers. I my presentation I will show that the ballet’s aim was mainly to display mythological stories of victory and self-celebration in order to emulate Louis XIV’s recent commercial campaigns in Asia. By playing on the mirroring effects of performers and audience admiring and celebrating themselves as ‘divine beings’, on and out of the proper stage, this ballet uses a quite interesting dramatic effect of playing a “play within a play”, as in the case of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Here, dancers and spectators are at the same time actors and observers of the play, and the actual space of the stage get extended to the totality of the hall where the distinguished guests, the foreign aristocrats and the large retinue of the Louis XIV’s invited, his entire court itself. I will also show that the rules and regulations of older Italian Renaissance literary works and manuals are here fully adopted and enacted in the apotheosis of the king Louis XIV. The monarch is therefore represented as a true ‘Principe e Cortigiano’ that is expected to be a valorous warrior, a lover of pleasures and beauty, and a generous patron of arts as well.

Tiziana Leucci