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Claude Ballon


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(b Paris, 1671; d Versailles, 9 May 1744)

French dancer, teacher, choreographer, and chancellor of the Académie Royale de Danse. He joined the Paris Opera in 1690, making his debut in Cadmus et Hermione, and rapidly became the most fashionable dancer of his day. In 1699 he performed in London. In 1712, or thereabouts, he retired from the Paris Opera to work at the Duchesse du Maine's court at Sceaux where in 1714 he performed (with great personal success) in Apollon et les Muses, a work widely considered to be a forerunner of the ballet d'action. In 1715 he became dancing master to the 5-year-old Louis XV; in 1719 he was appointed composer of the king's ballets. Also in 1719 he succeeded Pierre Beauchamps as head of the Académie Royale de Danse. In 1731 he was named Dancing Master to the Children of France. As a teacher, his private pupils included Marie Sallé. He is said to have been both handsome and charming, while exceptionally talented as a dancer. The roles pictured in his surviving portraits include those from Amadis de Grèce (1699) and Le Carnaval et la Folie (1704). Several of his duets with Marie Thérèse de Subligny were recorded in Feuillet notation, thus ensuring their survival. Often (but incorrectly) referred to as Jean Ballon (or Balon).

Subjects: Performing artsDance

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