Category: Dance culture

The Reasonable Amount of Sweat Theory


Dancing = Sweating. To become a dancer, there is no other way than practicing, practicing and again, practicing. Which simply put, comes to sweating, sweating and more sweating. Thus the quote claiming that a genius is the result of 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration can be taken quite litteraly for dancers.

Of course the quote doesn’t apply universally. It is even a rather moralistic one. Because, for instance, it makes the claim that with just hard work you can achieve anything. And of course that never is true for 100%. Succes depends enormously on the place where you were born, or who your parents were. But one thing is sure: you never become a top-dancers without having sweated a great deal to master your trade.

And yes, talent is important and in-born, etc. And yes, that’s why the difference between a realy great dancer and a slightly less good dancer is sometimes so obvious. But believe me, they both will have sweated a great deal before they got there.

So why did I started all this? Well, because recently I read the astounding memoirs from the Comte de Mérode de Westerloo, were I could again discover how much dance training and lessons were required in the early regency periode. On pg 128 – 130 he brightly describes how he got to know the new dancing style of the quadrille in Charlesville (France) in january 1803. The new dances and the accompagning music were introduced by the local army band. They had direct relations with the greater world in Paris, where the new fashionable dancing style took the salons by storm

What surprized me the most, while reading these pages, was how clear it was that you couldn’t take part in any ball without taking lessons seriously. The background didn’t even give you the edge or advantages as before (the young count de Mérode belonged to the highest ranks of nobility). You simply had to sweat it out and thus, I count it as very illustrative for my self invented ‘Reasonable Amount of Sweat’ (TRAS) Theory.

Baroque Dance & Theatre Courses with Christine Bayle

I know, I know, it has been very quite on this blog lately. And then this late announcement… I promise to better my life and post some more in the near future.

Bur nevertheless, for those being around in Paris for the week-end and wishing to have fun with Baroque Dance during a two days course with Christine, here it is:

Prochains Stages avec Christine Bayle et Arts et Mouvement:


samedi 8 – dimanche 9 novembre 2014 ouvert à tous, tous niveaux

Pas de base et codes de bras selon Le Maitre à danser, Pierrre Rameau, 1725 : chorégraphie: La Sarabande d’Issé


Samedi 29 – dimanche 30 novembre 2014 ouvert à tous, tous niveaux

Ouvert à tous où alternent mise en route, exercices de voix, prononciation, d’imagination dans des jeux et des textes, qui alternent avec la stylistique et la rhétorique de l’« éloquence du corps »* et étude de textes baroques. Apporter et mémoriser une Fable de la Fontaine, puis une scène, un poème, un air, cantate, etc…


Dans les 2 cas, en relation avec la grève des employés municipaux, l’adresse du samedi 8 novembre est bien au Centre sportif Buffault, 26 rue Buffault, 75009, Paris, salle de danse, 3e étage par l’ascenseur au bout du couloir de droite. 16h-19h45

et dimanche 9 novembre : au Centre d’animation Mars-Sangnier, 20 avenue Marc-Sangnier, 75014, salle de danse, 1er étage au fond du Hall et par l’escalier sur la droite: 10h-13h comme prévu.
Ces horaires et lieux seront les mêmes pour le stage des 29-30 novembre.

A samedi 8 novembre !!!

Annonce spéciale:

Nous vous annonçons également la reprise du Ballet de la Merlaison
au Théâtre Montansier à Versailles, les 9 (matinée scolaire), 10 et 11 avril 2015.

Si vous voulez voir des extraits de cette création:


Series – The Story of a Single Ball – Part 2: You find the ballroom


The ball of 20/08/1861 took the stage in the Antwerp Variété Theater as is clearly shown on the above engraving. This imagery was published in the London News of 30/08/1861, proving contemporary digital editions sometimes aren’t that much quicker. Besides British interest, eyewitness reports from Holland and France are known to exist, having been published the year after the event.

This type of international exposure obviously was quite rare at the time. But what do we actually know about the venue framed here? The Antwerp Variété Theater was build in 1829 to temporarily replace the demolished city Opera which had to be rebuild by city architect Bourla, but which only opened in 1835. That the temporarily construction would survive until 1898 was far longer than originaly expected. The nice thing about this theater is, that it happened to be a sort of public-private enterprise of its time with on one side the city government and on the other side a proficient enterpreneur. The witness of which one can consult today in the city archive of Antwerp. The papers offer a unique insight in the venue’s exploitation.

Digging through the papers I unearthed this particular plan proving the Antwerp Variété to offer a classic Italian theater layout (horse shoe), embelished with a vast foyer at the street side. Just as in the opera of Ghent today, visitors could arrive safe and dry in their carriages underneath the foyer and swiftly enter the undisturbed peacefull variété world.


A remarkable feature, nevertheless, is the continuation of rooms behind the theater scene as is clearly shown on the engraving and the plan alike. Needless to say, this spacious construction offered vast possibilities for large scale events like the one of 1861. Virtually every European theater venue of the 19th century disposed of a ballroom construction that could be set up covering the parterre and orchestra pit, leveling it with the scene, thus shaping a vast dance space. In this particular case, the dancefloor was enlarged by the rooms behind the scene, a feature I consider a novelty regarding it’s construction around 1829. I personally am not aware of any similar theater layout in Europe before 1850, even not in London, Paris or Vienna, considering the lively ball-culture of this capitals in these days.


Unsurprizingly the Antwerp Variété Theater offered a multi-functional theater space, albeit a bit ahead of its time in the way it was conveived. I can’t deny that I suspect this building to have stood model for the Vlaamse Schouwburg (Flemish Theater) on Kipdorpbrug that opened in 1874. Notice for instance the very strategic emplacement of the orchestra, yards above the dancefloor. Johan Strauss Jr. would have loved the spot, perched as an eagle high above the dancers. A position causing some practical problems I will return to later in this series.

Mailath-Pokorny stellt Strauß-Festwoche "Tanz-Signale" vor


Interior Variété Theater:Courtesy of Frans Lauwers Collection

Floor plan Variété Theater: Stadsarchief Antwerpen MA#8811

Flemish Theater: Oude Postkaarten

Strauss: Wikimedia Commons