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Dancing was a popular form of entertainment during the Baroque Era, and musicians were often employed to perform dance music. The tradition of Baroque dance solidified under King Louis XIV of France, who was an avid dancer and encouraged the development of social and theatrical dance in his court. The theatrical dance that King Louis XIV encouraged eventually grew to become what we know as ballet.

Dance Notation

We know a lot about the steps and choreography that was used for Baroque dance due to the existing dance notation. Dance notation, such as Beauchamp-Feuillet notation, indicates the steps that are used and the movement of the dancer across the floor. The notation is often a thing of beauty itself, but was designed to accurately record dance steps.

Dance Types

Some common Baroque dance types are listed below. As you watch the videos and listen to the music in them, think about the tempo and character of the music, as well as the nature of the dancing. Do the dancers do a lot of energetic leaps, or is it more elegant and gliding? How would you change the way that you play each dance to reflect what the dancers are doing (separated notes, connected notes, how loud or quiet)?


A Suite is a multi-movement musical work where each movement is a dance. The dances in a Suite are generally in the same or in closely related keys (e.g., relative major and minor).

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