Pierre Beauchamp (1636-1705)

Pierre Beauchamp (1636-1705) was a French musician and dancer, coming from a family of the same artistic background. In 1650 King Louis XIV made him superintendent of the ballet. He danced many times with the King in the ballet de cour. Lully appointed him director of the Academie Royale de Danse. He was credited with the invention of the five positions, but he may only have codified an established practice.

Thornot Arbeau, who was born in 1519, wrote ORCHESOGRAPHIE, published at Langres in 1588. In this book he described the principle of turned-out legs, and feet with the weight equally distributed on both feet. This was the foundation of the absolute positions of classic dance formulated by Beauchamp a century later.

Beauchamp choreographed many operas for Campra and Lully. He resigned his position at the Academie at the time of Lully's death (1687). Beauchamp had a brilliant technique--it is said that he was the first to perform tours en l'air.

(First published January 1991)

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