The New York Baroque Dance Co. | “A second facet of heaven

Baroque Dance music

Baroque Music Elements / August 15, 2022

Recent scholarship has shown that performers who understand dance characteristics in Johann Sebastian Bach's music can apply a more nuanced approach to the performance of that music. Though many performers would likely welcome the opportunity to learn more about expressing dance qualities in performance of Bach's music, few resources exist to guide them. This dissertation aims to encourage performers of Bach's cantatas to explore the richness of the dance elements in them.Investigation into the context of the dances, the technical details of the dance steps, and their qualities of momentum, helps build a vocabulary with which to discuss specific instances of dance characteristics in Bach's cantatas. When the performer can identify ways in which a dance influences a musical composition, he has gained an array of specific musical insights about the piece, which will help him make expressive decisions about articulations, ornamentation, affect, and other musical issues. Interpretations gain greater clarity and shape, and the infectious kinesthetic quality of the dance comes to the fore in the music.The dissertation focuses specifically on the impact on Germany and Bach's music of French Baroque dances popularized in the court of Louis XIV. Study of French Baroque cultural influence on Germany will also expose a practice in musicology of dismissing and suppressing French influence on German music and culture, especially in the works of Bach.Bach's titled dances have prompted fruitful discussions on the significance of the dance in performance of Bach's dance-influenced music, and this paper will closely examine this topic. The dissertation will focus most intently on Bach's sarabande- and minuet-influenced titled dances and cantata movements. Several dances and movements will be explored for their dance characteristics, and implications for dance-inflected performance will be discussed.

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