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Lauchery, Etiennelocked

  • Sibylle Dahms

(b Lyons, Sept 1732; d Berlin, Jan 5, 1820). French dancer, choreographer and teacher. He was an influential figure in the history of the ballet en action. A pupil of his father, Laurentius (1713–83), an actor and dancer at the Mannheim Hoftheater, he probably studied in Paris, and then worked as a dancing master and ballet dancer at the Mannheim court (1756–64). In about 1763 he began his career as a choreographer at the court of Hessen-Kassel, creating more than 50 ballets. A printed collection of these ballets (Recueil des Ballets de Cassel, Kassel, 1768, GB-LbI) suggests that he was familiar with the theories and practical works of Noverre. The music for most of these ballets was composed by his former Mannheim colleagues Christian Cannabich, C.J. Toeschi and Ignaz Fränzl as well as by Noverre’s collaborators at Stuttgart, F.J. Deller and Rudolph. Lauchery wrote his own music for at least two of his ballets and, as in a letter by Leopold Mozart (11 December 1777), he also composed violin duos. From 1772 to 1778 he directed the ballet and ballet school at Carl Theodor’s court in Mannheim, reviving his most successful ballets from Kassel and creating a series of new ones. In 1778 he moved to Munich with Carl Theodor, but soon returned to Mannheim (1779–81) and then Kassel (1781–87). The establishment of a ballet school at the recently renovated Royal Opera House, probably modelled on that at Mannheim, offered him the opportunity from 1788 to cultivate the new dramatic dance style in Berlin as well.

In total Lauchery created about 100 ballets. The music for many is lost, but the large number of surviving texts reveal the variety of subjects treated by him. Lauchery clearly had an affinity to the comic genre, but he also went his own way in the serious and heroic ballet, even while acknowledging Nouverre’s example. His work, which approached the beginnings of Romantic ballet, was continued by his son and pupil Albert (1779–1853).


  • R. Kloïber: Die dramatischen Ballette von Christian Cannabich (Munich, 1928)
  • S. Dahms: ‘Etienne Lauchery, der Zeitgenosse Noverres’, Mozart und Mannheim: Mannheim 1991, 145–55
  • S. Dahms: ‘Das Repertoire des “Ballet en action”: Noverre-Angiolini-Lauchery’, De editione musices: Festschrift Gerhard Croll, ed. W. Gratzer and A. Lindmayer (Laaber, 1992), 125–42
  • S. Dahms: ‘Ballet Reform in the Eighteenth Century and Ballet at the Mannheim Court’, Ballet Music from the Mannheim Court I, ed. P. Corneilson and E.K. Wolf, RRMCE, 45 (1996), pp. ix–xxiii
  • P. Corneilson and E.K. Wolf: ‘Mannheim Ballet Sources, 1758–1778’, Ballet Music from the Mannheim Court I, ed. P. Corneilson and E.K. Wolf, RRMCE, 45 (1996), xxiv–xxxiii