Beyond the notation
As mentioned above, the rhythmical structure of the Rigaudon is practically identical to that of the Bourrée. It is hard to tell them apart from the musical notation.
Ex. 1: In musical notation the structure of the Bourrée (a) and the Rigaudon (b) look very similar.
The difference becomes clear only through the experience of the dance steps and the kinaesthetic energy in the body movements. By assimilating these movements into violin playing, the different character of these dances materializes in the resulting sound, despite the seemingly identical appearance of the notation.
This is an example of how misleading notation can be if the musical interpretation neglects the context of historical performance practice, and here, also the shared space of music and dance. What today is an object of study and reconstruction, was common knowledge for a violinist at the beginning of the eighteenth century . In this respect, the notation is as complete as it needs to be, implying the living tacit knowledge, either present in the existing performance practice (as it was in the eighteenth century), or reconstructed by HIP practitioners (as happened in the second half of the twentieth century).
Taking advantage of the rich information in the above mentioned musicological and performance studies, my thesis attempts to navigate beyond the reconstruction of the historical context for understanding and performing the specific dances. The historical information, and its practical application in performance, provides a springboard for acquiring an embodied gestural vocabulary that operates on the level of idiomatic and spontaneous musical interaction, rather than merely functioning within the regulatory scaffolding of established practices.
The French violinist JeanMarie Leclair (1697-1764) was a professional dancer as well as being a virtuoso violinist.