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Meredith Ellis Little

(fl early 18th century). French dancing-master and author. He was dancing-master to Elisabetta Farnese (1692–1766), who became Queen of Spain on her marriage to Philip V in 1714. Rameau wrote two important works on French court dance, both published in Paris in 1725. The first, entitled Le maître à danser, is the most authoritative exposition of the early 18th-century French style of dancing, a style which was performed throughout Europe because of its elegance and refinement. The book was read and approved by Louis Pécour, dancing-master for the Paris Opéra, and may thus be taken to represent the central French practice of its day. It gives a clear and detailed account of such matters as the correct way to stand, move and ask a lady to dance, etiquette at court balls and the movements and steps of dances, as well as a complete description of the minuet. It is directed primarily towards the needs of social dancing, and does not discuss virtuoso practices peculiar to ballet. The book, which was several times reprinted, contains many excellent drawings which clarify the verbal descriptions. John Essex translated it into English in ...