This very basic web page provides links related to current projects and recent work. Most of the links are to copyrighted material. The availability of material here in no way implies permission to violate copyright terms and constraints. Feel free to contact me with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about the Ken Pierce Baroque Dance Company (which, despite its name, also offers performances of Renaissance dance), please visit my creativeground.org web page.
For information about Baroque Dance classes and workshops at the Integrarte studios in Boston, please visit the Integrarte web pages.
- The Dances in Lully's Persée, by Ken Pierce and Jennifer Thorp, in Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music, vol. 10, no. 1. The article includes links to video clips.
- Using a dance historian’s approach as a guiding concept in stage direction, presented at the Society of Dance History Scholars conference in Toronto, 2011.
- Choreographic Structure in Dances by Dezais, a paper resulting from a workshop presentation at the Society of Dance History Scholars conference in Saratoga Springs, 2008.
- Shepherd and shepherdess dances on the French stage in the early 18th century, a paper presented at the Society of Dance History Scholars conference in Evanston, 2005. (An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Interdisciplinary Symposium "Dance and the Pastoral" at New College, Oxford, April 20, 2005.)
- Beauchamp Sarabande paper and figures. Figures for, and a copy of, "Uncommon Steps and Notation in the Sarabande de Mr. de Beauchamp", paper presented at the Society of Dance History Scholars conference in Limerick, 2003.
- Ballet for 9 animations. Animations showing arrangement of dancers in Feuillet's "Ballet for 9" (1700), prepared for presentation at the Society of Dance History Scholars conference in Philadelphia, 2002. The same page also provides a link to the paper I presented at that conference, Choreographic Structure in Dances by Feuillet.
- Choreographic Structure in the Dances of Claude Balon, presented at the Society of Dance History Scholars conference at Goucher College in 2001.
- Repeated step-sequences in early eighteenth century choreographies, paper presented at the University of Surrey, Roehampton (UK) in 2001 and subsequently published in Structures and Metaphors in Baroque Dance: Proceedings of the Conference at the University of Surrey Roehampton, March 31, 2001.
- An article from MIT's Tech Talk about the baroque dance piece I made for MIT's Dance Theatre Ensemble in 2004: Exploring the Science of Baroque Dance.
- Information about Dance, Spectacle, and the Body Politick, 1250-1750, edited by Jennifer Nevile, which includes a chapter that I wrote, "Choreographic Structure in Baroque Dance".
- Book publication notice (with links and instructions for purchasing): F. Le Roussau A Collection of New Ball- and Stage dances, 1720: Facsimile with introductory notes by Jennifer Thorp (lulu.com, 2008). I helped the author with typesetting and image-scanning.
- Information about the 2017 Summer Early Dance Workshop will be posted as it becomes available. Please refer to information about the 2016 workshop for a general idea of the 2017 workshop structure and content.
Bio and additional information
Below are a bio and questions and answers with links to various resources related to baroque dance. Much of this is lifted from material developed for MIT's Dance Theatre Ensemble.
Ken Pierce trained in ballet and modern dance, studying on scholarship at both the American Ballet Theatre School and the Merce Cunningham studio. He has specialized in early dance—especially, late-Renaissance and Baroque dance—for over thirty years, as choreographer, reconstructor, performer, and teacher. Companies he has performed with include the Court Dance Company of New York, the New York Baroque Dance Company, Ris et Danceries (Paris), Danse Baroque Toronto, and the baroque dance trio Hémiole (Paris), of which he was a co-founder. He directs his own company, the Ken Pierce Baroque Dance Company, for which he has choreographed or reconstructed dances for performances with Tafelmusik, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, The King's Noyse, and the Handel & Haydn Society (Boston). Recent choreographies include dances for Les Élémens, Les Festes d'Hébé, Tirsi e Clori, and les Festes de l'Amour et de Bacchus; his choreographic credits also include King Arthur at the Boston Early Music Festival, and such twentieth-century premières as Le Carnavale Mascarade; Les Plaisirs de Versailles, with Ex Machina Baroque Opera Ensemble; the masque Oberon, at Case Western Reserve University; and le Mariage de la Grosse Cathos at the Amherst Early Music Festival. He was assistant choreographer for Quelques pas graves de Baptiste, Francine Lancelot's baroque-style piece for the Paris Opera Ballet, whose cast included Rudolph Nureyev. Mr. Pierce has taught at summer dance and music workshops in the U.S. and abroad. He directs the early dance program at the Longy School of Music of Bard College (Cambridge), and teaches classes and workshops at the Integrarte studio in Boston.
Here's a link that leads to three video clips of baroque dance, which accompany article "The dances in Lully's Persée" in the Journal of Seventeenth Century Music, on dances in Persée. Authors, and dancers, are Jennifer Thorp and me.
Questions and answers about baroque dance
What is baroque dance?
The term is used to refer to ballroom and theatrical dance of France, other Western European countries, and their colonies during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
Is baroque dance baroque (that is, highly decorated, ornamented, and so on)?
Well, sometimes. The steps can be highly decorated, curved shapes and paths are often used, and the choreographic thread is sometimes elaborately nonlinear. But it can also have elements of classical order and symmetry, and even simplicity.
So why is it called baroque dance?
Presumably, partly by analogy with music and other arts of roughly the same period, and partly because it does have baroque elements.
How do we know what dance was like way back then?
There are treatises from the period describing the dance style and giving instructions for many of the basic steps, and there were notation systems developed in the late seventeenth century which were used to record dances. Many of these notated dances have survived, and we can study and learn from them.
Here's a sample page of dance notation, the first plate of The Pastoral by Mr. Isaac. Notice the symmetrical floor pattern.
What are some of these treatises?
Some of the more common ones are available via the very useful Library of Congress web site at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/dihtml/dihome.html:
- Dufort, Giovanni Battista. Trattato del ballo nobile (1728).
- Rameau, Pierre. Le maître a danser (1725). A translation of this work: Essex, John. The dancing-master (1728).
- Tomlinson, Kellom. The art of dancing... (1735)
Where can I learn more about baroque dance notation?
The most straightforward way is to read the documentation:
- Feuillet, Raoul-Anger. Chorégraphie (1700). Both the first (1700) and second (1701) editions are available on gallica.bnf.fr. Here's a link to the 1701 edition. This is the first published work describing the notation system developed by Pierre Beauchamp, the system that was most commonly used. Feuillet is clear and concise, and he also provides examples of notated dances.
- A translation of this work: Weaver, John. Orchesography (1706). The copy at the LOC site also has notated dances.
Are there other notated dances available?
Yes. Some are available on the Library of Congress site linked above, or elsewhere online, for example at the very useful Bibliothèque Nationale site, gallica.bnf.fr. Others have been published in facsimile. The Harvard Theatre Collection and the Boston Public library have originals of notated dances. Photocopies of other sources can usually be obtained.