Conferences & Dance

Anacréon Study Day                                           

The Classics Faculty, University of Oxford

2pm, 9 November 2012

Hosted by Fiona Macintosh and the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama, Oxford, this exploration of the Rameau/Cahusac acte-de-ballet Anacréon of 1754 was held to coincide with the first complete performance of Anacréon in modern times. Papers were given by Felix Budelmann, Graham Sadler, Roger Savage, Roger Scruton, Peter Smith and Jennifer Thorp. The Study Day was followed by a concert performance of Anacréon given by Jonathan Williams and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford.

Jean-Philippe Rameau: International Anniversary Conference

The Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford

11–14 September 2014

Conveners: Graham Sadler, Shirley Thompson (Birmingham Conservatoire) and Jonathan Williams

To mark the 250th anniversary of Rameau’s death on 12 September 1764, the Rameau Project organised the Rameau International Anniversary Conference, the UK’s first major symposium on Rameau. Almost a hundred modern-day Ramistes attended the four-day event to hear forty pre-eminent figures in French Enlightenment research sharing the very latest research undertaken on Rameau’s life and work.

The Rameau International Anniversary Conference was made possible through the generous support of the University of Oxford’s John Fell Fund, St Hilda’s College, the Maison Française d’Oxford, the Birmingham Conservatoire French Music Research Hub and M. Patrick Florentin.


Some of the most compelling of questions concerning the performance and understanding of Rameau’s operas exist in the role played by dance and pantomime. The Rameau Project is therefore seeking to explore the choreographic idioms and approaches to staging that might have been employed at the Paris Opéra during the three decades Rameau worked there. With none of the original choreography existing, this is no easy task. Numerous questions arise: how closely should the dance mirror the music? Will Baroque dance speak to a modern-day audience? And just how does a menuet convey meaning? What stage action took place outside the dances during, for example, the entr’actes? What did the members of the chorus do on stage? What how might a better understanding of movement, gesture and narrative inform tempo, phrasing and characterisation, and vice versa? And might the experience change our perception of the genre?

This approach is simply one which has asked us to apply the same rigour to stylistically-appropriate performance of dance as has been applied to that of music of the period. It depends on the conductor and choreographer working closely together to unlock the contemporary sources and to integrate the work’s musical and choreographical vocabularies. It demands that we understand the aesthetics and influences which shaped the operas. In turn, it draws attention to the indispensable role that gesture and movement must play if our understanding of these works is to progress.