historical dances    /    17th-18th century


historical dances

Originating from England, the gigue has retained the characteristic steps of the folk gigs, danced to this day in the British Isles. The fastest of all Baroque dances, the gigue is animated, lively and nimble. Danced by men and women alike, the gigue has also been featured in theatre, adding to highly expressive characters in ballet performances.

> Read more
As a court dance, the gigue appeared as early as in the 16th century in the Elizabethan interludes and comedies, and made it to the French court in the mid-17th century. Following its initial success as a theatrical dance, the gigue waned in the second half of the 18th century. In England, the gigue was danced as a comical, at times acrobatic dance in the form of burlesque, while in the French ballet compositions it became an example of the finest dance technique and virtuosity. The gigue was abundant in difficult hop-steps, pirouettes and cabrioles. Some of the best known choreographies, transcribed in the Feuillet notation, come from such ballets as Lully’s Roland and Campry’s Tancrède and FêtesVenitiennes. Measured in the 6/4 or 6/8 metres, gigues are usually fast-paced, lively and frantic in terms of their character.

The steps of the gigue are based on hop-steps and endless spins, above all the pas de gigue, pas de passacaille, sissonne, jetté and the quick chassé.



Agnel Romana, Podstawowe formy tańca dworskiego w okresie Baroku [Basic Forms of Court Dances in the Baroque Period], [in:] W kręgu tańca barokowego [In the Circle of the Baroque Dance], ed. P. Grajter, Lodz, 2007.

Conté Pierre, Danses anciennes de cour et de théâtre en France, Paris, 1974.

Drabecka Maria, Choreografia baletów warszawskich za Sasów [Choreography of Warsaw Ballets During the Saxon Reign of Poland], Cracow, 1988.

Larousse-Bordas, Dictionnaire de la danse, Paris, 1999.