Energetic jumps and graceful flow



Ex. 1 The first four bars of the Bourrée in Rebel’s Les Caractères de la danse (Rebel, 1715).


According to Dalen (2013), dancing the Bourrée is a ‘highly dynamic experience, and the frequent hops and springs have uplifting and exhilarating effect’ (p. 25). My observations of the pas de bourrée revealed some interesting counter-rhythms between the musical metre and the dance steps. The intuitively conceived bouncing accents in the first arsic bar (see the introduction to the terms arsis & thesis in Section V2aT4) were not always to be found in the dance steps. The pas de bourrée coincides with the musical accent only on the downbeat (élevé), but the rest of the bar is sustained up in the air by two simple steps. Thus, my assumed bounce in the middle of the bar is not mirrored in the pas de bourrée.

The thetic second bar functions as a repose - the feet join and the body sinks down in preparation for a new bounce. This is in agreement with the musical structure, the second bar having a single accent on the downbeat. In this case when the step-units consist of a series of pas de bourrée, the arsic impulse quality of the first bar, and thetic landing quality of the second bar, are expressed by the hierarchy of their downbeat accents.


Vid. 1 Pas de bourrée.


Apart from the pas de bourrée, the Bourrée dance structure often employs hops, leaps, and jumps (jetté) (Little & Jenne 1991, p. 36). The two-bar phrase in the dance consists of two jumps (jetté) in the first arsic bar, and the pas de bourrée in the second thetic bar, which has only one accent and a repose. This aligns with my assumed musical structure.


Vid. 2: A 'jumpy' Bourrée phrase (pas de sissonne)


When I played my 'jumpy version' of the Bourrée to dancers (with two arsic accents in the first bar), it did not seem to disturb the more gracious step-units of the pas de bourrée sequence, but rather, it created an interesting counter rhythm. Nevertheless, as soon as the dancers employed more energetic step-units consisting of jumps (jettés), I felt that the playing energy connected even better with the dancers.

A Soundist may shape the structure of the Bourrée with the sonic tools of articulation and dynamics.


Ex. 2: Aud. 2 The Bourrée structure is here executed in the Soundist strategy, by means of articulation and dynamics.


The beatbox version of the dance pattern activates the springiness of the bow action, supported by body movements. In a Gesturist rendition, the 'bouncing' arsic bar and the thetic 'landing' bar are created through the physicality of the body-floor relationship.


Ex. 3 &Aud. 2 The beat-box pattern informs the Gesturist performance of the Bourrée.


The lightness and springiness of the bow action is amplified by the body movements. The following video demonstrates the difference when these forces are activated through body movement, in comparison with the dance structure marked by sonic devises.


Vid. 1 The Bourrée pattern in a Gesturist reading.






Back to video essay V2b






Back to video essay V2b