Fifth International 'Music on Stage' Conference

  • Russell Millard (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


18-19 October 2014, Rose Bruford College

Dancing To His Tune: Controlling the Feminine in Daphnis et Chloé A particularly uncanny moment in Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé (1912) is that in which Chloé dances under the control of Daphnis’s flute in the ballet’s third tableau. Aside from evoking memories of the balletic versions of the Pygmalion myth by Molin and Petipa, as well as Delibes’s Coppelia, this scene also recalls Ravel’s fascination with automata, memorably discussed by Carolyn Abbate in her article ‘Outside Ravel’s Tomb’ (1999). Throughout Daphnis femininity is portrayed as a problem in need of control; in particular, the entrance of the character of Lyceion – described by Vladimir Jankélévitch as the ‘Salome of Greece’ – not only leaves Daphnis feeling ‘very disturbed’, as the libretto has it, but sets in motion a sequence of dances which figure women dancing under the increasing manipulation of men, culminating in Chloé’s dance for Daphnis. This paper takes a musical-narratological approach to the issue of control in Daphnis; in particular, the process is examined as an example of transvaluation – a change in the narrative hierarchy. A close analysis of significant moments in the score demonstrates the variety of musical devices employed to articulate the transvaluative course.
Period18 Oct 201419 Oct 2014
Event typeOther


  • Maurice Ravel
  • Ballet
  • Ballets Russes
  • Musicology
  • French Music
  • Gender
  • Narratology
  • The Uncanny