A folk dance from the region of Auvergne, the musette derives its name from the musical instrument musette (a type of bagpipes), which was traditionally played throughout France. In the 18th century, the musette was a stage and theatrical dance performed to represent the figures of peasants and shepherds.
Performed in a 3-measure metre, the folk version of the dance was characterized by saltatory steps and a lighthearted, lively character. In 1703, the musette made its debut on stage in André Campra’s opera-ballet Les Muses
, and soon became a staple in the ballet repertoire, where it would be featured in outdoor scenes evocative of the romantic, sentimental interplay of dancers. Still, the musette retained its rustic, informal character. As can be seen in Musette à deux
from the opera Callirhoé
, choreographed by Pecour and transcribed in the Fuillet system, the musette is a beautiful showpiece composition, full of hop-steps such as the cabrioles
, and the chasses
. The operatic choreographies of the musette include figures similar to the minuet, e.g. the moulin
or the cercle à deux.
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.