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Abstract

To expand our knowledge of women’s contributions to ballet de cour, this essay presents the first scholarly edition of a previously overlooked eye-witness account of Marie de Medici’s 1605 ballet de la reine. Offering a transcription of the document and an English translation with annotations, the essay helps to settle basic questions of performance history and makes available a wealth of new evidence regarding specific visual iconographies, choreographed dances, musical innovations, and elements of audience response. Such evidence in turn challenges previous assumptions regarding an exclusively decorous and elevated tone for women’s court ballet of the early seventeenth century and indicates Marie de Medici’s active integration of ‘living, breathing luxury items’ such as dwarfs and foreign women singers into ballet de cour. In addition, the mansucript and its provenance testify to this ballet’s ultimate significance for its contemporaries as a ceremonial staging of political rule.

Author Biography

Melinda J. Gough (goughm@mcmaster.ca) is associate professor in the department of English and Cultural Studies and the graduate program in Gender Studies and Feminist Research at McMaster University. Her research interests include English and Italian epic, seventeenth-century gender debates, and women’s court performance in early seventeenth-century France and England. Her recent work focuses on the court ballets and masques of Marie de Medici and her daughters.

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