Johann Sebastian Bach often used the “Bourrée” in his suites as one of the optional dance
movements that come after the sarabande but before the gigue; he also wrote two short
bourrées in his Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. George Frideric Handel, a
contemporary of Bach, wrote several bourrées in his solo chamber sonatas. In the 19th
Century, composers such as Frédéric Chopin and the Auvergne-born Emmanuel Chabrier
wrote “Bourrée’s” for the piano (such as the latter’s splendid Bourrée fantasque,
composed 1891). The Victorian English composer, Sir Hubert Parry included a bourrée in
his Lady Radnor Suite (1894). Another famous bourrée is part of Michael Praetorius‘s
The Dances of Terpsichore.
The “Bourrée” is also a ballet step consisting of a rapid movement of the feet while en
pointe or demi-pointe. A pas-de-bourrée consists of bending both legs, extending one,
then stepping up, up, down, finishing with bent knees. It is more commonly known as the
‘behind side front’ or ‘back side front’. A pas-de-bourrée-piqué picks up the feet in
between steps. The “Bourrée” has been utilized as a form by a number of pop and rock
music bands. Progressive rock band Jethro Tull included an instrumental track inspired
by Bach’s “Bourrée” in E minor on their 1969 album Stand Up.