Pierre Boulez, in his characteristic oracular fashion, once declared the ballet Jeux to be “a sort of Afternoon of a Faune in sports clothes.” In this article, I contend that his pithy observation—characterizing the difference between Faune and Jeux in sartorial terms—has diverted historians ever since from asking the right questions about the later work. I examine belle epoque tennis culture to argue that the ballet's disjunct expressive registers—a diaphanous, cerebral score coexisting with sportive, avant-garde choreography—have their roots in belle époque social anxieties about what it meant to be appropriately masculine, but they also foreshadow the problematic place of danced works in current musicological scholarship.

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