9. A king of dancers
Louis XIV was fond of everything that brought pleasure to life: grand cuisine, stunning visual and decorative art, music, theater, and dance. This last one was considered, at the time, an important part of social interaction –so much, that most nobles employed a Dance Master to instruct them in the art of court dancing. A talented dancer himself (and proud of his taut legs, as can be seen in Rigaud’s famous painting), he owed his sobriquet –the Sun King– to his role as god Apollo in a dance performance given in 1653.
Louis’ favorite composer, Giovanni Battista Lulli (naturalized in 1661 as Jean-Baptiste Lully), brought his Italian musical culture and, by mixing it with amorphous elements that preexisted in his new country, created the distinctive ‘French style’ in music and catapulted court ballet into inconceivable heights. The King himself wouldn’t hang his dancing shoes before the turn of the 18th century, when his physical condition didn’t allow him such exertion anymore.