With the term la belle danse we mean the dance style that gradually took shape in France in the first half of the 17th century, fully developed under Louis XIV (his personal reign 1661–1715) and gradually flooded the whole of Europe. It withdraws to the background towards the end of the 18th century. It was a noble style, more technically demanding compared to the previous forms of dance, systematically elaborated on an academic footing (the Royal Academy of Dance founded by Louis). It was used both in ballroom dancing and in the theatre. In ballroom dancing, the refined elements of this style gradually disappeared in the second half of the 18th century, whereas in theatre dancing, the original la belle danse absorbed other influences and gradually evolved into the form of today’s classical ballet. — This qualification is necessary, because some of the mentioned dances were danced under the same name but performed differently, both in other time periods and in the folk environment.
Often the term “baroque dance” slightly inaccurately denotes what really is the style la belle danse. However, it should be remembered that additional dance forms existed during the baroque period. In particular, a significant phenomenon was the counterdances that will be the focus of three evenings of the course.