Jean Favier (choreographer)

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Jean Favier (born March 25, 1648 in Paris ; † possibly 1719 ) was one of the leading, professional, French dancers at the court of Louis XIV. In addition to his acting activities , he composed and recorded his choreographies with a dance notation attributed to him , the Diderot in his Encyclopédie compared with that of Feuillet . Favier was a dance teacher at the royal court.


Jean Favier came from a family of musicians. His father Jacques (around 1605–1691) was a violinist with the court orchestra grands violons and a dance teacher. Jean Favier was twelve years old when he danced in the role of a monkey at the performance of Cavalli's opera Xerxès in 1660 in an interlude composed by Lully . This was followed by appearances in roles that fit a young dancer, and at the age of eighteen he took on several roles in the Ballet des Muses - according to his versatility.

After a younger brother also enriched the dance scene, Jean was referred to in the Livrets with the name "Favier l'aîné " (the elder). Another brother appeared in the libretto of Lullys Isis in 1677 as "Favier de Zell", which may be due to the fact that he was mainly employed at the court of Celle . At the performances of Lully's operas, Jean Favier was regularly to be found among Pierre Beauchamp's dancers. It is unclear whether Favier was there when Robert Cambert wanted to set up a “Royal Academy of Music” in London in the early 1670s. In any case, both of them presented a divertissement with ballet and music to King Charles II in February 1674 , the first reference to Faviers Activity as a choreographer.

In January 1675 he was back at the French court for Lully's opera Thésée , and the following year his father decided that he should inherit his position at the grands violons . In fact, Jean Favier sold the position to another violinist in 1691 - he could not have danced and played at the same time. But his skills as a musician would have been sufficient.

After the Dauphin Louis de Bourbon had married Princess Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria in 1680 , Favier was appointed dance teacher to her pages, the young sons of country nobility, who were sent to court to perfect their education. Guillaume Raynal was the Dauphine's dance teacher when he was appointed, but apparently Favier did the job - and publicly called himself “Madame la Dauphine's dance teacher”. This was helpful in attracting students who were necessary with his rather low salary.

In 1695 he was listed as maître à danser de première classe (first-class dance teacher) with the dance teachers' guild , and a year later a Favier was elected a member of the Académie Royale de Danse - it should have been Jean Favier l'aîné . The list of members also gives the only indication of a possible year of death: 1719. He had married at the age of 42, and he performed at court at least until he was 51 years old. His son Jean (* 1694) followed in his footsteps, became the dance teacher of Maria Leszczyńska and then “first dancer” at the court of Dresden , one after the other with August II and August III.


Determining the exact scope of his works is made more difficult by the fact that several Faviers were active and it is often not possible to tell from the information whether he choreographed, danced, made music or composed. In any case, Le Mariage de la Grosse Cathos from 1688, a collaboration with André Danican Philidor , is remarkable because it is the only play from the court of Louis XIV that has been preserved in all its components (music, choreography, spoken and sung text). Similar to the Feuillet notation, Favier had developed his own system that was used in this mascerade , taking into account up to nine dancers who also moved unevenly, such as a single dancer versus a group of four.


  • Rebecca Harris-Warrick, Carol G. Marsh: Musical Theater at the Court of Louis XIV. Le Mariage de la Grosse Cathos . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1994, ISBN 0-521-38012-X , pp. 21-29.
  • Carol G. Marsh:  Favier, Jean. In: Grove Music Online (English; subscription required).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Louis-Jacques Goussier : Chorégraphie . In: Diderot and d'Alembert: Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers , Paris 1753, pp. 367–373 (and 1762 with two additional illustrations)