French Dance

Medieval French

During the French Revolution, Theroigne de Mericourt was a commander of one of the armies of the Faubourg. In 1518 in Guienne, France, The Protestant Garrison, a group of 350 girls, built and defended fortifications. There are many more famous defenders. France had approximately 38 Celtic tribes. There is still some living there today.

Some of the same medieval dances were done all throughout Europe. The Branle came from the French word Branleu, which means, swing side to side. During the Renaissance era new French dances were introduced: the Galliards (a lively aerobic dance), Tourdions, etc. During the Baroque era more new French dances were introduced: the Minuet, Gavotte, Gigue, Musette, Rigaudon, etc. Everyone traded dances and made their own versions of some of the dances. The minuet of the 17th century came from the Branle of Poitou. It was one of the most popular court dances of the era. Originally there were only 4 Minuets: The Queens Minuet, Le Minuet de Dauphin, Le Minuet d’Exaudet, Le Minuet de la Cour (still popular today). The Rigaudon is named after a dancing master of Marseilles, who brought it from Provence. No man entered the society of pretty women, without being skilled in courtly dances.

The Baroque dances were in the court of Louis XIV of France. He was dedicated to the arts and developed choreographed dances for stage and court. Male and female courtiers were taught dances from and early age. The usual sequence of dances in Louie’s palace started with the Branle group dance, then the duets (one couple at a time), in sequence according to court rank. The ball ended with all dancing a Contra dance, English Reel, or Virginia Reel. Dance was more than a fun pastime. It was recognition of education and status. Louie founded the Academy of Royal Dance. Theater ballet came out of Court ballets. Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIV developed a more dignified ballet.