Dancing with Bach
Historical Peformance Practice and the Six Suites for Solo Cello
François-Antoine Pomey, Le Dictionnaire royal, augmenté de nouveau, et enrichi d'un grand nombre d'expressions élégantes ... Dernière édition, nouvellement augmentée de la plus grande partie des termes de tous les arts... 1671
At first he danced with a totally charming grace, with a serious and circumspect air, with an equal and slow rhythm [cadence], and with such a noble, beautiful, free and easy carriage that he had all the majesty of a king, and inspired as much respect as he gave pleasure.Then, standing taller and more assertively, and raising his arms to half-height and keeping them partly extended, he performed the most beautiful steps ever invented for the dance.
Sometimes he would glide imperceptibly, with no apparent movement of his feet and legs, and seemed to slide rather than step. Sometimes, with the most beautiful timing in the world, he would remain suspended, immobile, and half leaning to the side with one foot in the air; and then, compensating for the rhythmic unit [cadence] that had gone by, with another more precipitous unit he would almost fly, so rapid was his motion.
Sometimes he would advance with little skips, sometimes he would drop back with long steps that, although carefully planned, seemed to be done spontaneously, so well had he cloaked his art in skillful nonchalance.
Sometimes, for the pleasure of everyone present, he would turn to the right, and sometimes he would turn to the left; and when he reached the very middle of the empty floor, he would pirouette so quickly that the eye could not follow.
Now and then he would let a whole rhythmic unit [cadence] go by, moving no more than a statue, and then, setting off like an arrow, he would be at the other end of the room before anyone had time to realize that he had departed.
But all this was nothing compared to what was observed when this gallant began to express the emotions of his soul through the motions of his body, and reveal them in his face, his eyes, his steps and all his actions.
Sometimes he would cast languid and passionate glances throughout a slow and languid rhythmic unit [cadence]; and then, as though weary of being obliging, he would avert his eyes, as if he wished to hide his passion; and, with a more precipitous motion, would snatch away the gift he had tendered.
Now and then he would express anger and spite with an impetuous and turbulent rhythmic unit; and then, evoking a sweeter passion by more moderate motions, he would sigh, swoon, let his eyes wander languidly; and certain sinuous movements of the arms and body, nonchalant, disjointed and passionate, made him appear so admirable and so charming that throughout this enchanting dance he won as many hearts as he attracted spectators