The chaconne is a theatrical dance originating in South America and later transplanted to Spain. The peak of its popularity came in the 17th and 18th century France when the chaconne was featured in ballet and operatic performances upon its transformation into a major dance composition with theatrical components.
In the three-measure metre, the chaconne is performed in a moderate tempo and may assume a playful (or serious, solemn and ceremonial) character. The original compositions were intended for ballet dancers and accompanied solo displays of skills delivered by the ballet and dance masters. The most famous examples of the chaconne include Chaconne de Phaëton and Chaconned’Arlequin, which feature elements of theatre rhetoric and expression adequate to the characters depicted in the performances. At the same time, chaconne choreographies display a uniquely high level of dancing technique, virtuosity and acrobatics. Aside from the basic steps, i.e. the contretemps de chaconne, the chaconne includes all steps featured in the Belledanse repertoire. Towards the end of the 18th century, the chaconne – by then considered to be a mini-ballet in its own right – transformed into a type of Ballet-Pantomime performed as part of the Ballet-Pantomime pieces.
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Larousse-Bordas, Dictionnaire de la danse, Paris, 1999.