Tag Archives: Louis XIV

March 2nd

On this day in 1717 The Loves of Mars and Venus opened in London. It was the first ballet to be performed in Britain.

The ballet was created by John Weaver who was a dancer, choreographer and pantomime performer. Up until The Loves of Mars and Venus the “ballets” that had been performed in Britain contained singing and speaking. Despite getting a good reception, no one was that bothered about seeing any more ballets and the art form pretty much petered out in the UK until the 19th century. Hardly surprising, given that the performers wore masks, heavy clothes and the women pranced about in high heels. La Sylphide it was not. In fact, although dance  historians like to have a little jig of joy about this early ballet, it’s hard to know why. At this stage of the evolution of ballet the female dancers could barely move, their “prancing” about was very limited; the masks worn by all the dancers

Louis XIV giving it large in his ballet gear

meant that you might as well have been looking at a big old puppet lumping about the floor.

There is very little evidence left of Weaver’s ballet. We know that it was based on classical stories, that people quite liked it and there was no singing or speaking, but that’s it.  It wasn’t until much later in the century that the first ballet that is still performed was created. That was La Fille Mal Gardée, although to start with there wasn’t any getting up en pointe and gliding around. The first dancer to do that was Marie Taglioni in about 1822. She was also the first dancer to perform in something akin to the modern tutu. She did not dance The Loves of Mars and Venus because she thought it was shit and she didn’t want to hide her face behind a mask.

Before we leave the hallowed world of skinny bints and men whose padding gives the impression of a mighty large package, I should tell you that before ballet got professional and really rather good, people like Louis XIV would get up and prance around in ballets. If anyone was fool enough to tell the Sun King that his performance was a bit flat he would hand them over to Mazarin, who had learned how to be a really good torturer and henchman under Cardinal Richelieu.

Although the ballet  has not been performed or thought about for nearly 300 years, it is understood that some idiot told John Gray about it and told him he should write a book about it. We all know what happened next.

Today is not the birthday of

Sam I-Am,

So no mention of green eggs and ham.

But Dr Seuss today was born

He had no teeth so could not eat corn

Dr Seuss liked hunting for strange imaginary creatures

But he  soon knew how to rhyme

And that he did all  of the time

He saw a cat

He saw a hat

We all know what happened  after that.

He then had an idea about a Grinch

Who stood far higher than an inch

And stole a special  holiday

A particularly jolly day

He liked to write  exciting stories

Wasn’t bothered by  silly glories.

He was a most admired chap

He would never give  you the clap

So send some happy cheer his way

On this his very special day

Be glad, be funny and be gay

And all that merry type of stuff

And as a final by the way

Old Seuss did really love the muff

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