Mime, Music and Drama on the Eighteenth-Century Stage

Ballets that tell stories are taken for granted today. But in the early modern period, the ballet d’action (or ‘story ballet’) was one of the most controversial – and successful – forms of theatre. A curious hybrid of dance, mime and music, its overall and overriding intention was to create drama. It was danced drama rather than dramatic dance, musical drama rather than dramatic music.

Most modern critical studies of the ballet d’action treat it more narrowly as stage dance and very few view it as part of the history of mime. Little use has previously been made of the most revealing musical evidence. This innovative book does justice to the distinctive hybrid nature of the ballet d’action by taking a comparative approach, using contemporary literature and literary criticism, music, mime and dance from a wide range of English and European sources. Edward Nye presents a fascinating study of this important and influential part of eighteenth-century European theatre.

Follow these links to the Contents and the Index, or read the Introduction and an Excerpt.

Cambridge University Press, 2011. Hardcover and Ebook available, 332 pages.