Publication Date

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Art History


Anne Simonson


Art History, Ballet, Ballet de la Nuit, History of Dance, Louis XIV, Reconstruction

Subject Areas

Art history; Dance; Performing arts


This thesis researches the ballet de cour spectacles of the seventeenth century French court, with a careful examination of the political and social importance of such spectacles in anticipation of reconstructing Louis XIV’s Ballet de la Nuit (Ballet of the Night), originally performed February 23, 1653 at the Louvre’s Salle de Petit Bourbon. This ballet de cour was a visual spectacle that combined music, dance, poetry, and allegory with elaborate staging and costumes. Such spectacles were first produced in France during the sixteenth century and involved the royal court not only as spectators but also as performers. The Ballet de la Nuit was influential in numerous aspects. This ballet marked for the first time in the history of the ballet de cour, a work presented as a complete and united whole. This meant the libretto was a unified piece, expertly divided into four veilles (watches of the night) and a concluding grand ballet. The entire ballet moved toward a single goal: the rising of the Sun (King). This influential court ballet changed the direction of ballet from a court etiquette requirement to a professional performing art. The reconstruction, The Sun King Dances, performed at San José State University on February 22nd and 23rd, 2018, 365 years after its original performance, showcases the developmental changes from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first, all while allowing the original production to come alive once more.