Contributed by: Seth
The picture depicts a scene from Lully’s opera ‘Amadis de Gaule,’ and right now I’m reconstructing a solo excerpt from that opera choreographed in England by Anthony L’Abbe. It’s called the “Chaconne d’Amadis,” and the notation was published in 1725. The original production of ‘Amadis de Gaule,’ if you believe what the Mercure de France says (and who doesn’t?), was the ‘Oklahoma’ of its day. Its day, or rather its year, being 1684. Supposedly this was the show that finally gave dance an important role in propelling the action of the story, though I guess it didn’t succeed for very long since that’s also what they say about ‘Oklahoma.’ And also what they say about lots of other shows.
If you ask me none of them ever actually succeeded in making a dance help tell the story so compellingly as the critics claim, since dance isn’t really very good at doing that. I mean after all it’s dance.
But the Chaconne d’Amadis is just great, very tough, with lots of intricate jumps and turns. The version I’m doing was performed in London originally by Louis Dupre sometime between 1718 and 1722. Dupre was a hot-shot dancer, much in demand, and here’s an awfully fishy story: he was in Paris in 1718 for the April revival of Lully’s ‘Amadis de Gaule’ and then returned home to England for more shows at John Rich’s theater, Lincoln’s Inn Field. And then a couple of years later out comes L’Abbe’s choreography for the chaconne from Amadis. I don’t know who the Paris choreographer was, but to have a famous soloist from the Paris production return to London and start performing a solo excerpt to music from that show with choreography by someone new….well, that just sounds like there must have been some stealing going on. In other words, Anthony L’Abbe is a big fat phony. Or maybe a fabulous choreographer. Probably both.
I’ll be showing my reconstruction in Wyoming at the Sense of Place Dance Festival and then in New York for a show that Sarah’s curating for early December. Details TBA.