• By: Tisna Tini

Thirteen Strings awakens 17th century France with “Les folies de Versailles”

Photo credit: Sébastien Ventura

Shall we dance? Why not! On Friday, March 22, Thirteen Strings explores the world of dance-loving King Louis XIV, Le Roi Soleil in “Les folies de Versailles”. The performance will feature works by di Gatti, Geminiani (Corelli), and Campra, as well as Les Caractères de la danse by Jean-Féry Rebel and Stravinsky’s French-inspired Apollon musgète.

To round up this rich concert repertoire three of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s compositions will be performed including Le Bourgeois gentilhomme. Strongly associated with Louis XIV, Jean-Baptiste Lully assumed sole control over dramatic music at the royal court. He became director of the Sun King’s Academy of Music and is considered the founder of the comédie-ballet and French opera.

This concert wouldn’t be complete without dancing! Director, choreographer and baroque dancer Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière will be performing various dance forms of 17th century France against the musical backdrop of Ottawa’s premier professional chamber orchestra.

“The baroque era is a very important period for the development of La Belle Danse”, says Lacoursière. “Because of the dance notation, we know what they were dancing. Depending on the context, in an opera, at court, in a ball, or as part of a big celebration organized for the King, the dances of this period have different styles and messages. The link to its music is a big part of its identity.”

Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière is the co-artistic director of Les Jardins Chorégraphiques and Le Nouvel Opéra in Montréal as well as the stage director and choreographer with the opera productions of Clavecin en Concert directed by Luc Beauséjour. They recently received an Opus Prix for “Best Concert of the Year” for their opera production of Blow’s Venus and Adonis.

“I started dancing jazz and ballet when I was young,” says Lacoursière. “My interest in historical dancing grew as I was doing my bachelor in music at University Laval in Québec City in the beginning of the 90s. I was curious to know how to dance the minuets and gavottes that I was playing on the piano. So I enrolled in a baroque dance class that was offered at the University. Then I started to attend international historical dance workshops.” 

Marie-Nathalie also specialized in mask work and was invited at the opera of Nice. She will also attend the Boston Early Music Festival to play Harlequin which she will be choreographing at their next festival opera production of Steffani’s Orlando furioso this June. 

Lacoursière says that her goal for the future is to, “collaborate with artists that love this period” and that together they can, “communicate this rich and wonderful music and dance.”

The music and dance of the concert will be interspersed with readings, in both French and English (courtesy of Marie-Nathalie and Thirteen Strings’ Music Director Kevin Mallon), about The Court of Lully and the Sun King, baroque dance and social etiquette in the17th century.

This concert is sure to transport all who attend to the world of Lully and King Louis XIV.

Concert tickets for Les Folies de Versailles on March 22 are available at Leading Note, Books on Beechwood, Compact Music and at www.thirteenstrings.ca.