[ dancer with castanets ]

Early Dance in Cambridge

Summer Workshop 2015
Sunday-Friday, July 26–31

Instructor: Ken Pierce

An intensive workshop in baroque dance (European ballroom and theatrical dance of the late 17th and early 18th centuries). Classes in technique, repertoire, and dance notation, with opportunities for independent projects.

The 2015 workshop will focus on the dances of Guillaume-Louis Pécour, dominant choreographer at the Paris Opéra during the first decades of the 18th century. Workshop repertoire includes menuets, gavottes, sarabandes, bourrées, and other baroque dance types.

All classes will be held at Green Street Studios, 185 Green Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA).

[ Habit de fantaisie pour un bal ]

Schedule Outline

Sunday, July 26

Baroque dance technique. An introduction to baroque dance basics: placement, step vocabulary, connection to music.

Monday–Friday, July 27–31

Warmup and Baroque Dance Technique. Warmup, basic steps, and practice step sequences.
Baroque Dance Technique, continued. Further work on steps and step sequences, in preparation for the afternoon’s sessions.
Lunch break.
Baroque dance repertory. Ballroom and theatrical dances reconstructed from notation.
Repertory (continued) and topics in Baroque Dance choreography and reconstruction. Topics may include: the relationship between music and dance; dance notation systems; theatrical contexts for choreographies; Pécour’s legacy and influence on later choreographers.

Note: The schedule may be adjusted from day to day to allow for an efficient use of space, time, and energy.


This course is for students who have a serious interest in baroque dance. Experienced baroque dancers are welcome, as are dancers and dance teachers from other dance genres, such as ballet or modern dance, or musicians who have had some dance training. No prior experience with early dance or with dance notation is required, but some dance background is essential. Classes may be split into separate groups to accommodate students’ interests and abilities.

About the Instructor

[ dancer Ken Pierce as harlequin ]

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 twenty-five 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, Handel & Haydn Society, and the Boston Early Music Festival. Choreographic credits include dances for Les Élémens, Les Festes d’Hébé, Tirsi e Clori, and les Festes de l’Amour et de Bacchus; 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.


Green Street Studios is located in Cambridge’s Central Square Cultural District, a short walk from restaurants and shops and close to the Central Square Theatre and MIT. Public transportation (the MBTA, or “T”) allows easy access to other areas of Cambridge and to downtown Boston.


Students may request housing in Lesley University dormitories. For details, and a link to the summer housing application, please visit http://www.lesley.edu/residence-life/summer-housing/. Students will be housed in dormitories subject to availability. The Lesley dormitories are located close to Massachusetts Avenue, between Harvard Square and Porter Square. (See the Lesley interactive campus map.) Travel from the dormitories to Green Street Studios is easy using public transportation, either bus or subway. The walking distance is about 1.7 miles.

Those wishing to explore other housing options might visit MIT’s temporary housing page or Harvard’s list of short-term accommodations.

Tuition and Registration

Tuition for the workshop is $350.

To reserve a space in the workshop and request registration instructions, please send an e-mail message to Ken Pierce (kpierce@mit.edu) with subject “summer early dance workshop in Cambridge 2015”. Please include your full name and contact information. If you have not previously attended a workshop with Ken Pierce, please also include a short paragraph describing your dance background.

For Further Information

For further information about the workshop, please contact the instructor, Ken Pierce, at kpierce@mit.edu.

Please note that schedules and other program details outlined above are subject to modification.