Jean Georges Noverre - Encyclopedia

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JEAN GEORGES NOVERRE (1727-1810), French dancer and ballet master, was born in Paris on the 29th of March 1727. He first performed at Fontainebleau in 1743, and in 1747 composed his first ballet for the Opera Comique. In 1748 he was invited by Prince Henry of Prussia to Berlin, but a year later he returned to Paris, where he mounted the ballets of Gliick and Piccini. In 1755 he was invited by Garrick to London, where he remained two years. Between 1758 and 1760 he produced several ballets at Lyons, and published his Lettres sur la danse et les ballets. From this period may be dated the revolution in the art of the ballet for which Noverre was responsible. (See Pantomime and Ballet.) He was next engaged by the duke of Wiirttemburg, and afterwards by the empress Maria Theresa, until, in 1775, he was appointed, at the request of Queen Marie Antoinette, maitre des ballets of the Paris Opera. This post he retained until the Revolution reduced him to poverty. He died at St Germain on the 19th of November 1810.

Noverre's friends included Voltaire, Frederick the Great and David Garrick (who called him "the Shakespeare of the dance"). The ballets of which he was most proud were his La Toilette de Venus, Les Jalousies du serail, L'Amour corsaire and Le Jaloux sans rival. Besides the letters, Noverre wrote Observations sur la construction d'une nouvelle salle de l'Opera (1781); Lettres sur Garrick ecrites a Voltaire (180n); and Lettre a un artiste sur les fetes publiques (1801).

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