Chalemie: Early Music - Baroque Dance - Commedia dell'Arte

[photo from Jack Spriggins]

Commedia dell'Arte and 18th century English pantomime; baroque dance and theatre music from the London stage. Musicians, dancers and singers recapture something of the flavour of real musical performance in times past.

Chalemie is a group of musicians, dancers and actors whose aim is to explore the theatrical side of early music - from the dance and pantomime of eighteenth century London to the court spectaculars of earlier centuries.

Chalemie is motivated by a belief in total theatre; the combining of different performance arts to create new dramatic forms. Its own particular focus is on early music, dance and commedia dell'arte. With these as its primary materials it seeks to create a style of theatre that is close to the popular stage of the early 18th century.

Our Shows

"Old-fashioned" they may be, centuries old in fact, but the dances, songs and comic routines of the 18th century have lost none of their power to enthral an audience. Small travelling theatre companies, performing in theatres and fairgrounds, had to cater for people from all ranks of society; the buffoonish antics of Harlequin and Columbine were mixed with elegant dances from the French stage; broadside ballads and street music with songs from the opera house.

Working from original sources (dance choreographies as well as songs and music), Chalemie's aim is to create an historically accurate, yet entertaining account of the great variety of public entertainments of the early eighteenth century. Theatre songs, broadside ballads and street music, stage and ballroom dances, commedia and mime, all combine to create exuberant and colourful shows, fully costumed and with fine period detail. For its shows the company draws from a flexible pool of musicians, dancers, singers and actors who specialise in early music and early dance performance. With their wardrobe of over 100 costumes (complete with props), and their arsenal of early and ethnic instruments, Chalemie's humorous and visually lavish performances have been rapturously received by promoters and audiences alike.

Festival of Early Music and Dance

The Chalemie Christmas Festival of Early Music and Dance at London's South Bank Centre is in its 6th year.

Summer School and Workshops

Although Chalemie is primarily a performing company, it also has an active teaching programme, with a Summer School and a series of workshops for schools. Members of the company are all professional musicians, dancers, actors and writers, with many years experience in the arts, both as performers and teachers.


An offshoot of Chalemie, Chalemina specialises in small-scale productions for children from the ages of 3-10. They have also produced a show for even younger children (2-6 years) - Little Bo Peep.

With its own lighting system, props and staging Chalemina is able to perform in a variety of places, from theatres to schools and village halls.


Members of Chalemie also perform at outdoor events, at heritage sites and summer festivals, as well as corporate entertainment events and weddings - either giving short performances, or simply being musicians.