Académie Royale de Danse

This article is about a former French dance institution. For the English institution founded in 1920, see Royal Academy of Dance.
The Academy's founding letters patent

The Académie Royale de Danse, founded by letters patent on the initiative of King Louis XIV of France in March 1661, was the first dance institution established in the Western world. It was an association of thirteen dancing experts whose purpose according to the preamble of the King's letters was "to restore the art of dancing to its original perfection and to improve it as much as possible".[1] The group was intended to codify court and character dances and to certify dance teachers by examination,[2] but since no archives of the organization have been found, it has not been possible to evaluate in detail its activities and accomplishments.[1] The Académie Royale de Musique, originally founded in 1669 as the Académie d'Opéra, was a closely related opera and ballet company,[3] and although the two institutions never merged, members of the dance academy were also associated with the opera. Along with many other royal institutions, the dance academy ceased to exist at the time of the overthrow of the monarchy in 1789,[4] but the opera and ballet company survived and today is known as the Opéra National de Paris.[5]


The dance academy's members (académistes) formed part of the king's entourage and court and were, for the most part, simultaneously both dancers and musicians. It was this that motivated the fraternity of musicians of Saint-Julien to publish a virulent factum against the "prétendus Académiciens" in 1664. This long plaidoirie, entitled Le mariage de la musique avec la dance, was signed by Guillaume Dumanoir, "violin player to His Majesty, one of the 25 members of his "grand' Bande", and also holder of the Office de Roy of the Instrument Players, and of the dance masters of France". The quarrel was settled in 1695, by a decree according the same rights to both parties.

Although the object of the Academy was to reflect, analyze and normalize matters of dance, no document relating to its activity or to this theorization has survived. Little by little, recruitment of dancers into the royal entourage gave way to recruitment into the ballet-corps of the Opéra. This little by little altered the Academy's profile, making it and its members more dedicated to dance training alone.

Founding letters patent


  • 1662 (foundation)
  1. François Galant du Désert (director)
  2. Florent Galant du Désert
  3. Jean Renauld
  4. Guillaume Renauld
  5. Guillaume Raynal
  6. Jean Raynal
  7. Guillaume Quéru
  8. Hilaire d'Olivet
  9. Thomas Le Vacher
  10. Nicolas de Lorges
  11. Jean Piquet
  12. François Piquet
  13. Jean Grigny

  1. Antoine Bandieri de Laval (director)
  2. François Marcel
  3. René Malter
  4. François-Antoine Malter
  5. François-Louis Malter
  6. Antoine Dangeville
  7. David Dumoulin
  8. Louis Dupré
  9. Jean-Baptiste Javillier
  10. Antoine Matignon
  11. Denis Dupré
  12. Jean-Barthélémy Lany
  13. Gaétan Vestris
  1. Pierre Beauchamp (director)
  2. Jean ou Guillaume Renauld
  3. Florent Galant du Désert
  4. Guillaume Quéru
  5. Bernard de Manthe
  6. Guillaume Raynal
  7. Jean Raynal
  8. Nicolas de Lorges
  9. Jean ou François Piquet
  10. Michel Blondy
  11. Romain Dumirail
  12. Joseph Ferrand
  13. François Marcel

  • 1778 (last known mention)
  1. Michel Laval (director)
  2. François-Antoine Malter
  3. Jean-Baptiste Javillier
  4. Jean-Denis Dupré
  5. Jean-Barthélémy Lany
  6. Gaétan Vestris
  7. Lyonnois
  8. Maximilien Gardel
  9. Jean Dauberval
  10. François Duval dit Malter
  11. Jean-Georges Noverre
  12. François-Louis Malter

See also



  1. 1 2 Astier 1998, pp. 3.
  2. "Académie Royale de Dance, L'" in Craine and Mackrell 2000, p. 1.
  3. Christout 1998, p. 86; Harris-Warwick 1992, p. 856.
  4. Astier 1998, p. 4.
  5. "Histoire de l'Opéra national de Paris" (in French) at the Paris Opera website. Retrieved 19 July 2011.


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