Canterbury Music Club

jointly with

Canterbury Festival

London Handel Players with Dancers

“Dances fit for a King”


The London Handel Players and their baroque dancers, Mary Collins and Steven Player, are renowned for their impeccably researched revivals of original choreography and gesture from the baroque period. Audiences are offered a rare opportunity to hear this music in its original setting and experience the immense variety of dance music from this period in the manner in which it was originally presented.


This programme introduces dances written for royalty, both in England and in France, dances which proved to be a huge inspiration to composers such as Lully, Campra, Corelli, Handel and Bach and which became so popular that they found their way into many aspects of eighteenth-century society.


The London Handel Players

Rachel Brown, flute & recorder

Adrian Butterfield, violin

Oliver Webber, violin

Rachel Byrt, viola

Sarah McMahon, cello

Nathaniel Mander, harpsichord


with Mary Collins and Steve Player, dancers


Dance played a hugely significant part in the emergence of the style of baroque music in the period 1600-1750. The main reason for this was that Louis XIV of France (who reigned from 1643 to 1715) was absolutely passionate about dance and thus the whole of the French Court had to learn to dance too. Louis reigned for so long and became so powerful in Europe that by the end of his life the royal mâitre à danseur, Pierre Rameau, could boast that 'there is not a single court in Europe where the dancing-master is not French.'


For the nobility and gentry a knowledge and proficiency in dance was crucial to social status. French baroque dance was very much about display, about showing oneself off to best advantage. This could help in making a good marriage in order to gain wealth and the power it bestowed. Looking one's best was as important then as it is today for celebrities who understand the importance of striking the right pose for the cameras on the red carpet.


A great deal of music was written specially for dancing and, with encouragement from the King, a specific method of notating the steps was devised which means that today we can read and reproduce many of the original choreographies of the time. Composers such as Bach wrote a great number of dance suites of music based on the famous dances of the day. Despite the fact these suites were not designed specifically to be danced to, it is clear that Bach had an intrinsic knowledge and experience of the popular dance forms of his day, allowing him to use these templates as a basis for extending and extemporising their characteristic features to create his highly sophisticated compositions.  We know that Bach, when he was a teenager at school, studied dancing with a French dancing master from King Louis XIV’s court and as an adult he was presented at court many times so if we learn about the individual dances and their characters we can recognise their distinctive attributes and perform his music in the way it was intended which will in turn, we hope, inspire our audiences to want to get up and dance themselves!




Lully (1632-87) Pavane des Saisons from Idylle sur la Paix LWV 68


The Presentation of the King

Jacques Cordier (1580-1653) La Bocanne (Courante)

Mary Collins & Steven Player


The Royal Court

The King listens to music

Couperin (1668-1733) Concerts Royaux, Deuxième Concert in D major for violin and continuo

Prélude gracieusement


J.S. Bach (1685-1750) Menuet 1 from Orchestral Suite No.1 in C major BWV 1066

Solo Menuet

Mary Collins


Purcell (1659-95) Minuet from King Arthur Z628


Handel (1685-1759) Minuet from the Water Music Suite No.2 HWV 349

Ballroom Menuet

Mary Collins & Steven Player


Lalande (1657-1726) La Grande Pièce Royale

Un peu lent - Doucement - Gracieusement - Gaiement - Vivement


‘The King’s Theatre’


Steven Player


Campra (1660-1744) from L'Europe Galante

Premier Air, pour les Espagnols (Loure)

Mary Collins


Lully (1632-87) Dances from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme LWV 43

Gavotte; Gigue; Chaconne d’Arlequin


Lully Persée LWV 60


Mary Collins & Steven Player




Handel Scipio HWV 20

Overture and March ('Queen Caroline', choreography by L'Abbé)

Mary Collins & Steven Player


Handel Trio Sonata Op.5 No.4 in G major HWV 399 for 2 violins, viola and continuo



Sarabande pour un homme non dancée à l’Opéra

Steven Player


Campra La Forlana

Mary Collins


J.S. Bach Orchestral Suite No.2 in B minor BWV 1067

Rondeau; Sarabande; Bourée; Polonaise; Menuet; Badinerie


Corelli (1653-1713) Violin Sonata Op.5 No.12 in D minor La Folia

Mary Collins & Steven Player