Le Ballet de la Merlaison

Creation date : 2011

recorded at the CND 31 March 2011


Le Ballet de la Merlaison (Le)

Lecture demonstration

Choreography and concept Christine Bayle

A choreographic and musical composition of the “Ballet de la Merlaison”, a ballet written and danced by Louis XIII in Chantilly and in Royaumont in 1635.

During the reign of Louis XIII, according to François de Lauze (1623), dance attained “the highest level of perfection”. Ballet was illustrated in every possible and imaginable form; the never-seen-before and fantasy reigned supreme. “Le Ballet de la Merlaison”, which tells the tale of a blackbird hunt, is exemplary of this period. Louis XIII, apparently, created the music, the argument, the poetry and the costumes for it.

Although the music from the ballet had been preserved in the Philidor Manuscript, it had to be restored. Patrick Blanc detailed it so that it would be in harmony with the dance, orchestrated it and adorned it in accordance with the “characters” that appeared to him in the score. The choreography itself has totally disappeared. With her company L'Éclat des Muses, Christine Bayle has created an innovational version, based on her research carried out on three dance treatises from the period. She has invented never-seen-before and fantasy choreographic compositions, based on a style that unveils itself from a repertoire that is unknown today, a blend of Renaissance and Baroque styles, already referred to as the “Belle Danse”. The artists from L'Éclat des Muses approach this ballet from a perspective that is both serious and burlesque, with distance yet totally investing themselves, with their contemporary sensitivity.

In this lecture demonstration, the audience was invited to discover extracts from the ballet prior to its stage-setting and prior to the creation previews performed in Royaumont Abbey in September 2011. At least seven of the nineteen “entrées” of the ballet are presented. Three highly-renowned historians also intervene. Nathalie Lecomte conjures up the dancing masters (30 March), Eugénia Roucher, the treatises (31 March) and Anne Surgers, the theatrical space and the body during the period (1st April).


8 performers Pierre-François Dollé, Caroline Ducrest, Irène Feste, Hubert Hazebroucq, Elyse Pasquier, Lubomir Roglev, Gudrun Skamletz, Emmanuel Soulhat
8 musicians from l'ensemble Passo Finto : flûtes et musettes : Patrick Blanc basson, flûtes à bec (30 et 31 mars) : Béatrice Delpierre, violons : Camille Antoinet, Céline Cavagnac, Pascale Clément, Michel Coppe, Hélène Platone harpe (1er avril) : Françoise Johannel
dance historians Nathalie Lecomte (30 mars), Eugénia Roucher (31 mars), Anne Surgers (1er avril)
choreography and concept Christine Bayle musical direction Patrick Blanc
music Suite de branles, du manuscrit de Kassel
extraits du Ballet de la Merlaison, Louis XIII :« Le Major », « Les Paysans », « Scerpiers », « Mascarin », « Les Trois nobles », « Les Fermiers », « Arbalestriers », « Picoteurs »
costumes models Thierry Bosquet costumes creation Atelier Costhéa, Bruxelles
a film by
Centre national de la danse
running time
102 minutes

Last update : October 2011

Bayle, Christine

Compagnie L'Éclat des Muses

Dancer, choreographer, actress and director, after having participated in the creation of “Ris et Danceries” alongside Francine Lancelot, Christine Bayle founded the Éclat des Muses Company in 1983.

A baroque dance company, the Éclat des Muses is also a team of researchers and a school. Musicians and dancers work hand-in-hand applying a state-of-the-art and multidisciplinary approach, to create performances focusing on the dance, the music and the theatre of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The company breathes new life into a totally-forgotten part of the history of the art where beauty is absolutely striking. Unclouded by the clichés of old and new, she quests to develop other modes of creation, from research carried out on the sources. These deal with repertoires that have been buried for long periods of time and focus on the consistency and interaction of baroque art, on developing the theoretical and practical knowledge. The Éclat des Muses transmits its practical know-how to a variety of different audiences – amateurs and many professionals.

For her research work into dance at the beginning of the 17th century, Christine Bayle benefited from the Aid for Choreographic Writing in 2002, the Aid for Reactivating Repertoires in 2006 and the Aid for Research and Heritage in 2009, awarded by the French Ministry for Culture and Communication. She takes part in a wide range of symposiums throughout Europe. She was named honorary member of the Posadas (Argentina) and Krakow (Poland) festivals.

Last update : September 2011

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Centre national de la danse

Centre national de la danse

Founded in 1998, the Centre national de la danse (CND) has advantages which make it a unique centre dedicated to dance. Its strengths come from its assets: the skills of its staff and the diversity of specialisation offered; a renovated and comfortable building in Pantin (Paris), twelve studios, three of which are open to the public for shows or performances, a multimedia library, a projection room, collections and a whole range of training courses, resources and services for professionals and companies. The Lyon/Rhône-Alpes CND provides continuity for all the projects in its region.

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