"Hearing the Body in Motion: Mozart's Ballroom Dances"
Focusing on the Redoutentänze that Mozart composed for the Imperial court balls held during carnival season, this talk examines the music, choreography, and habits of ballroom dancing in Vienna during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Mozart was an accomplished and enthusiastic dancer. If one wishes better to understand the formal designs, musical gestures, and expressive meanings contained in these dances, it is helpful to be aware of the bodily rhythms upon which they are based and the social contexts in which they were performed. Dance music is a component within a multimedia art form, a form that involves the mutual interaction of physical motion, mental attitude, music, architecture, and dress. Moreover, the activity of participating in a ball involves a dynamic network of modalities (sight, sound, bodily awareness, touch, and smell); and these modalities can be experienced from a variety of perspectives (as a dancer, as a spectator, or as a musician).
Eric McKee is author of Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz: A Study of Dance-Music Relations in 3/4 Time (Indiana University Press, 2011).