The shortest way to describe this mammoth 10-year-in-the-making work might be to say it's the resource you've always wished someone had written. The longer way might be to say there are 10 chronologically framed volumes, all just short of 740 A4 pages (approx. 7,300 pages across the whole series and approx. 1,000 dances dealt with in detail).
Each volume is divided into five parts.
- In Part 1: Dance Context I consider the social, political and geographic context in which dance and the institution of the ball was evolving.
- In Part 2: Dance Forms I explore the nature and evolution of the period’s main types of dance.
- In Part 3: Dance Technicalities I offer sections on ‘Style’, ‘Etiquette’, ‘Honours’, ‘Holds’, ‘Formations’, ‘Figures’ and ‘Steps’.
- In Part 4: Dances in Detail—the longest part—I offer my reconstructions of, and music for, between 60 and 140 dances of the period.
- In Part 5: Dancing Masters I discuss developments in dance teaching, notation and publication, and offer an annotated bibliography of primary sources.
In every part of every volume I build my discussion around original sources and hundreds of included facsimiles, transcriptions, translations and illustrations.
At the beginning of each volume there is a preface orienting the reader. At the beginning of the first volume there is also an 'Introduction to the Series' and at the end of the last there is a 'Series (Secondary Sources) Bibliography' . For the benefit of those who might note be buying the whole series, I reproduce these here, along with and a series relevant Essay 'The Persistence of Ideas' (in the form they took in 2013-have not yet updated to 2015 version).
~ Introduction to the Series ~
~ Dedication & Plea ~
I would like to dedicate these Volumes to all those scholars who years ago kindled my love of philology. Though I never danced a step with them and have hardly seen any since, this book would not have been possible without their inspiring teaching and example. Though none would know the use to which I have applied their lessons or how lasting my gratitude for their early guidance in a field seemingly far from dance, they are as much my master as have been the wonderful dance teachers (both inside and outside of books) from whom I’ve learnt, and as Juan de Esquivel Navarro wrote in his 1642 Discursos sobre el arte del danzado
Si en ellos el lector hallare algun acierto, el loor de el se le deve a mi maestro, mas si apuntare algunos yerros, considerelos por mios, pues aquel nacio de su enseñança, y estos de mi unsuficiencia:
If in these matters the reader finds some wisdom, the praise is due to my master, but if any errors are noted, consider those my own, since the former was born of his teaching, and the latter of my insufficiency.
After many years labouring on these 10 volumes of ‘working notes’ I feel as exhausted as Fabritio Caroso must have been when he wrote at the beginning of his 1600 Nobiltà di Dame
that improving upon the earlier edition of his dance manual had involved disrugginare il mio ingegno, & studiare notte, e giorno
, ‘racking my brains and studying night and day’, but unfortunately I do not yet share Caroso’s sense that perfection has been achieved. In this respect I feel more like Saltator who wrote in A Treatise on Dancing
, Boston, 1802:
The first design of the work was intended for private friends; but having found nothing of the kind in public, this is now presented with all its imperfections.
Fortunately, however, perfection is not a prerequisite for utility, and my great hope is that my volumes will help address a pressing need.
~ Note on need ~
Imagine if our classical music inheritance was lost. That only a few knew the names of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven and still fewer had any knowledge of their works. Or imagine the same with art and Rembrandt, Renoir or Van Gough, or literature and Shakespeare, Austen and Tolstoy. Imagine all that was left of football, cricket or basketball was a vague notion that you kick, hit or hand a ball around and we weren’t really sure which you did in which, let alone how to organise a game. This is the situation we are in with one of western civilisation’s greatest cultural inheritances—that of the 1450 to 1900 ballroom. We might read in Shakespeare of galliards, in Molière of minuets, in Austen of cotillions and in Tolstoy of the mazurka, but who today has any understanding of what these dance forms involved—let alone of the artistic language at play within the thousands of variations within these forms. As glorious the achievements of those years, it’s an inheritance that has all but been lost and modern dance forms and imagined folk dance forms now have almost nothing to do with it.
It’s not simply a matter of fashion having moved on. There has been a complete change in expectations, definitions and understanding. A gulf has opened up between artist and community, show and participation, ‘dance’ and ‘dancing’, knowing and doing, stage and ballroom—indeed our understanding of what constitutes a ballroom has changed (they can even be a carpeted venue with a small optional portable floor). Between 1450 and 1900 the participatory dance of the ballroom was an art people spent years studying and in which the leading choreographers of the day created works. Dancing masters moved between the court, the theatre, the assembly hall, the private manor house and the village—and everybody, no matter what their capacity, shared the estimation that they should know more and be able to acquit themselves better—and the latter included the understanding that they should be able to not only follow but also when necessary improvise, invent and take a turn at leading everyone else. Books and pamphlets with social dance choreographies and guidance on how to dance, improvise and lead sold like tune downloads today. In some places in some seasons social life and the economy revolved around this dance. For example, the Paris Opera in the 1770s made more money from their public balls than from their Operas and many plays and novel had scenes set at these dances—but how much of the relevant music and dance is performed today?
Thanks to the efforts of many over recent decades, valuable ground has been gained in recovering our pre-1900 ballroom dance heritage. But where today do those who want to learn more and teach/research for themselves go? For music, art and sport we have academies with libraries and facilities, but what do we have to help bring back to life our rich ballroom inheritance? Dance books, though central to the ballroom art-form for 450 years, have for many years been seen almost as the antithesis of what dance is about. Those interested in our dance heritage might learn a dance at a workshop, enjoy one at ball or see one on a video, but without ready access to the original texts and sound discussion, might have no way of pondering interpretations for themselves, let alone of confidently passing on interpretations to others or doing fresh research of their own.
Over recent years many have been doing a wonderful job writing-up dance reconstructions or presenting, transcribing and translating primary sources, but we are all at the beginning of the task of bringing this world back to life and the two types of writing are often happening at some distance from each other. There are exceptions, but printed works tend to offer either recreationally-worded dance instructions without presentation of sources, problems or context, or academic attention to sources, problems and context without venturing reconstructions of use to would-be dancers. I’ve felt we need to fill the gap and offer danceable reconstructions while paying attention to sources, problems and context (including the broader one of dance evolution).
In addition to all the above is the pressing need to get young people involved and to bring on the next generation of dancers, leaders and researchers. Some people’s instinct for achieving this is to make things simple. In my experience, it’s not simplicity that attracts and keeps the attention of young people, its fun and romance and physical and intellectual challenge. These are not mutually exclusive and you get neither by dumbing things down. I believe we do better by being ourselves fit, competent and engaging, by being alert to young people’s interest in dress, in famous setting of the past, in socialising, in being simultaneously inside and outside the mainstream and in doing something that is simultaneously weird and wonderful, by being able to point to illustrations which help connect what they are doing with what young people did centuries ago, by being prepared to add in details of etiquette and steps, by being prepared to do things that might exhaust us, by giving them (and ourselves) something to practice, and by making them part of solving interpretational problems—indeed by doing all the things people did in the past.
Pondering the above has encouraged me get this resource of mine out for use. It’s far from definitive or polished but may help enhance people’s understanding of our historic ballroom inheritance while at the same time enhancing their capacity for sharing and enjoying it.
~ The purpose of dance ~
The historian William H McNeill in his 1995 book Keeping Together in Time argued that although dance in other species (and indeed our own too) may be about relieving tension or impressing or challenging others, it is only in humans that rhythmic movement has become sufficiently prolonged and co-ordinated to produce feelings that strengthen social bonds and contribute to shaping the group, and that this end has played back into shaping the nature of that movement.
Whether dance was a subconscious genetically-driven urge to express oneself or a product of a positive feed-back loop offered by the physical experience, it seems dance long ago become essential part of human life, a part linked with social ceremonies and spiritual rituals, with law, rites of passage, sympathetic magic and healing. All the time it was also working as an agent for communal cohesion, helping people understand their relationship to each other and the world beyond, helping both transmit belief and confirm beliefs by acting them out, helping to communicate identity and to reinforce it.
It was long ago that the seeds of some influential beliefs were sown—the belief that mimed movement can bring luck, that stomps and kicks enhance fertility, that a circle can generate community-nourishing energy (especially when about an object of reverence), and that a particular dance might be appropriate to a particular time of year, or type of celebration or invocation. Such beliefs, crossed with a myriad of needs, gave rise to a variety of dance types common in European folk traditions—sung circle dances, intricate chain, serpent and spiral dances, processional dances, seasonal maypole dances, mumming, hobby horse and horn dancing, initiation/rebirth ‘thread the needle’ dances, earth fertility-associated hopping, stomping and leaping dances, vocation-associated work dances, weavy pattern dances and, the latest-of-all, the courtship couples dance.
Arising in parallel with the folk dance have been the dances of ‘the ballroom’ that are the focus of my study. Understandings of original purposes fell away and dance became an entertainment, a means by which people affirmed their social status, a way young people met, and a way heritage was transmitted inter-generationally. All who could, insisted their children be taught dancing, and the dancing master was a central to social life. Dance became a form of personal expression, but in the context of communal communication—and just as conversations are shaped by an intersecting of language and interests, with both of these in constant flux, so too social ballroom dance over the 450 years covered by these Volumes was shaped by an intersecting of the meanings that came to be attached to certain movement choices and changing contemporary political and social contexts.
The purpose of dance and the nature of dance are thus equally simple and equally complicated.
~ The purpose of this work ~
These volumes have grown out of the research I’ve done, handouts I have prepared, notes I have made to myself and lessons I have learnt in the course of running dance classes, socials, balls and displays over the last 25 years. They were not planned or written in one go. Although initially my notes simply reflected dances we were doing, soon the dances we were doing were reflecting the latest corner of dance history I was exploring in my notes. Throughout this two-way process these notes have progressed, and they are still notes in progress. I’d like to revisit most pages, fill many gaps and make many more connections, but that might take more years than I have in me and people interested in our dance heritage deserve every possible tool now. So I’ve ‘hit print’.
Hopefully through this work people already involved in dance will gain a deeper appreciation of the art and discovered how the pleasure of socialising can be enhanced by an understanding of period etiquette, the pleasure of exercising enhanced by an understanding of period style and technique and the pleasure of dressing up enhanced by doing dances that were fashionable when the dress was fashionable. Hopefully they will also be tempted to try dances across the full breadth of our social dance inheritance, knowing that the dance of any one period and place was never just made up of dances of one formation, style, step and level of challenge. I’m not averse to dancing purely for the enjoyment or for the performance but feel if you add in a little understanding you can enhance both, and better to inspire others to create more enjoyment and performances.
I should note that I’m not averse to playing with, inventing within, building upon, and going beyond that which tradition or sources offer us. I did it myself when writing the 64 dances in my 2002 The Christmas Carol Dance Book
and when writing the 128 dances and 400 tunes in my Lost Dances of Earthly Delights
Volume 1 and 2 published with 8 accompanying CDs in 2005. I feel, however, that to create a meaningful conversation with the past, it helps to first understand something of the tradition which one seeks to go beyond.
I should also note that although I have tried to synthesise relevant scholarship, I do not intend my notes substitute for it, and have not attempted to match the rigour of the referencing etc found in scholarly works devoted to particular topics or primary sources. My notes are intended to be just one means by which to better understand that beautiful institution that is the ball and that under-appreciated side to our culture that is social dance—and by bettering that understanding help people keep this institution and this side of our culture alive.
~ Approach to the subject ~
Living in Canberra, Australia, so far from the longer-established and more populous northern hemisphere dance scenes, my wife Aylwen and I have had to create the dance scene in which we’ve been able to enjoy and develop the material here presented. Though this has meant a lot of organising and a lot of learning by myself with nothing but my books to aid me, it has also meant I’ve been unencumbered by dance practises and approaches which have evolved inside some dance scenes overseas and remained in place even when knowledge has moved on. In our dance scene, as in my writing, I’ve never felt the need to put dances into boxes labelled ‘Renaissance’, ‘English Country’, ‘Baroque’, ‘Contra’ and ‘Vintage Ballroom’. I have thus never been tempted to divide up dances so that when doing those in one box I forget all about footwork and just enjoy the figures, and when doing those in another I not see the simple figures for all the concentration on footwork, when doing those in one box I overlook anything that is quick or couples dance oriented and when doing those in another I overlook anything that is slow or formal. Although such boxing has clearly been a useful way for different clubs to delineate that which they do and attract people who want to do just that, it has nothing to do with how dance was divided in the 450 years covered by these volumes. The ballroom dance of every period and place was a combination of couples and set dances, some slow some fast, all with opportunities for either easy or fancy steps and figures, for uniformity and improvisations.
~ Approach to sources ~
My intention in these works has not been to offer a definitive overview of dance, taxonomy of forms, glossary of terms, set of instructions and bibliography. It has been to offer readers windows into the process of understanding dance by context, form, technicalities, instructions and writers, and to explore a range of possible understandings while producing a work that can be put to practical use. To this end I have attempted to frame my discussions, arguments and interpretations around words and illustrations drawn from historic sources. I’ve felt this important for three main reasons.
Firstly, although many teachers, performers, participants and audiences are happy to imagine what they are enjoying is historical dance without feeling any need to appreciate the limits of their engagement with the relevant history or dance, to more seriously understand historical dance the choreographers’ intentions and participants’ expectations which went into its development, and the limits of our knowledge of the same, I think it is useful to look closely into the historic material that offers a window onto the past. Direct quotes from sources help keep this window open.
Secondly, everyone will have different dance interests, experiences and competencies, and these are all likely change over time, so rather than writing different set of notes for all possible permutations, I have chosen to write a single set of notes which, layered as they are with source material, translations, commentaries and summaries, can be used in different ways.
Thirdly, I believe sources help transport the reader back to the times under consideration, and this can be simultaneously entertaining and stimulating, as the reader both enjoys the pleasure of time travel and starts to ask his or her own questions.
Fourthly, I hope that by giving the reader the primary source material upon which I am basing my translations, understandings and reconstructions, they will be empowered to correct and improve upon my work, and as these are just working notes, perhaps some will share their corrections and improvements with me.
~ Approach to presentation ~
In an effort to make this work as useful for both private study at home and public presentations as possible, I’ve tried to include enough citations for the pursuit of private study, but not too many to cloud easy public use. I’ve tried to make maximum use of space on every page, but not so cram content as to make public use in dimly lit halls difficult. In such situations I feel dance leaders need to be able to quotes text, read instructions, point to scores and show dancers illustrations with minimum fuss. To this end, I have used a small font for this preface that you will not need to consult in public, but a relatively large font for everything else. Rather than footnoting or end-noting all credits, references or extra points, I’ve opted for no such linked text. Rather than putting quotes from original sources in a smaller or italicised font, I’ve put them in more conspicuous bold font. Rather than reproducing source pictures or illustrations in their entirety, I have cropped them to focus on the elements of most relevance to the point being made. Rather than reproducing source texts at original sizes, when font size allows I have reduced pages so that several can be shown, studied or played from at one view, and where the original text is too small to read easily, I have enlarged it. I’ve tried to offer detail contents and cross-referencing. For technical reasons an index has not been possible.
~ Transcriptions & Translations ~
With readability of transcriptions in mind I have expanded most standard textual contractions, replaced obsolete characters with modern letters, italicised words in a language foreign to the source, favoured minimum capitalisation, and offered my own paragraphing. My transcriptions of tunes have been similarly guided by purpose and, for those who need to see the original dance or tune text, facsimiles are included nearly time.
When it comes to translations, I have tried to minimise the use of capitalisation and italics so the eye can more easily pick up those foreign dance terms I do make a rule of italicising and those key expression I have chosen to underline. Where the original text has an abbreviation I have in most instances expanded this out in the translation. I have also avoided introducing abbreviations of my own into my translation, except occasionally when a text is very dense I might use M or W instead of ‘gentleman’ or ‘lady’ or equivalent, and except that for ease of spotting, I put most numbers pertaining to steps into numerical form. So that the eye does not double count, where an expression of step numbers is followed by a qualification of how many steps in this direction and how many in that, I will express the overall number as a numeral and the subset number as words. Where the original text is using future tense to offer a dance instruction, I have often rendered it in the present tense, this seeming more natural in English, so instead of ‘They will do 2 steps’, I might have ‘They do 2 steps’, and then to highlight the imperative within this for calling purposes I might underline the expression thus: ‘They do 2 steps’. Where the original lacks a direct verb and just has participles I have occasionally change a participle to a present tense verb or imperative (e.g. instead of ‘doing 2 steps’, I might say, ‘He does 2 steps’ or ‘Do 2 steps’).
I usually put my translations of original texts in plain font, but where the translation I’m presenting is a period one, and thus to some degree became a primary source in its own right, I have presented it in bold.
~ Abbreviations ~
Throughout the Volumes A1, A2, B1, B2 etc denote successive playings of successive tune strains or part strains—and their corresponding dance section. 1M, 1W etc denotes the first man and woman in a set, with the identity of 2M, 3W etc depending on the set formation and number system specified.
Further abbreviations are used in my Part 4 summary boxes (and occasionally in tabulation tables and discussion notes). There are orientation ones such as:
l.f. left foot
l.h. left hand
l.o.d. line of dance, acw round or straight up
l.sh. left shoulder
r.f. right foot
r.h. right hand
r.sh right shoulder
There are also step specific abbreviations. I have tried to confine my use of these to my summary box and to spell them out more fully elsewhere. Most can be deduced from context. There are just a couple of ambiguities that come to mind and are worth mentioning.
When dealing with 15th century Italian, or 15th or 16th century French or English texts, S might stand for sempio
, or simple or single, and D for doppio
, double or double, but when dealing with 16th and early 17th century Italian dance texts, P might stand for passo
, an unclosed single while S stands for seguito ordinario
or ‘the ordinary sequence’, which is more like a double.
When writing on French bassedances B might stand for branle and R for slow single or compound reprise, but when writing on late renaissance Italian dances B might stand for battuti
or beaten step and R might stand for a much quicker ripresa
. You cannot assume that even when the abbreviation is standing for the same word in a language, that the word has the same meaning in texts of from different eras. Thus the C for continenza
in Volume I might imply a short branle-like step but in Volume II it might imply a fuller/slow longer.
In the busy late 16th early 17th century Italian texts I have used F for fioretto
, T for trab(b)uchetto
, Sp for spezzato
(or seguito spezzato
), short word forms such as riv. for riverenza
, gall. for gagliarda
/galliard, trang. for trango
, cad. for cadenza
etc. I have also been inspired by Negri to use an * to vary the meaning of some abbreviations. Thus my P* stand for a passo puntato
and S* for a seguito
ornamented with a semi-doppio
Similarly, when dealing with ‘classical’ French terms (from late 17th to the 19th century) I might use bal. for balancé or balance step, rig. for rigaudon
or rigadoon, bour. for pas de bourrée
, and when dealing with pattern dances of any era prom. might stand for ‘promenade’.
Abbreviations might be italicised if thought in context to be derived from a foreign language word.
My abbreviation practice is not be perfectly consistent throughout all 10 Volumes—these working notes have evolve over many years and my summaries are intended to be used in conjunction with my fuller notes.
~ Note on limitations ~
These Volumes, as comprehensive and dense as they are, are not a complete guide to all dancing.
With respect geography, I am only dealing with western European traditions—though often these lead us as far east as Russia, west as America and south as Australia.
With respect function and social context, the focus is on the dances that were designed for ballrooms—even if danced also in palace courtyards, manor houses, etc. I do not consider all the martial, ritual and acrobatic dances that may have been had a place in other settings. The focus is also on social dances—though this can include everything from a renaissance sword dance intended as a contribution to a masquerade to a baroque ballet intended to be displayed at a ball. Although mention will be made of ecstatic dance or theatrical dance, the main focus is choreographed (or at least choreographable) social dance.
With respect chronology, I have restricted myself to dance sources from between 1450 and 1900. Although the dance traditions with which I am concerned almost certainly stretched back before 1450 and some elements persisted beyond 1900, so different was the landscape off in these directions that I have resisted following the trail.
I have also not attempted to offer any comprehensive survey of anti-dance treatises and have kept my focus on those much more numerous sources in all the periods which reveal the high degree to which dance accomplishment and knowledge was valued.
Even within the above parameters this work is necessarily incomplete. The sources that survive are of limited geographic and social provenance, missing explanations of elements the author assumed we’d know, and have generally not been as fully considered by scholars over the last century as much as have the sources for the musical, theatrical and visual arts.
~ Note on dance reconstruction ~
I hope readers might not only use the reconstructions I offer but attempt their own of dances not here presented. In doing either it may helpful to ponder the following:
What was the purpose of the dance description? Is the writer simply intending to offering a mnemonic (such as John Ramsey is perhaps doing when in Source D from the Inns of Court manuscripts we find him describing the cinque-pace as One, two, three, four, & five, or are they clearly trying to describe ever step and movement? As more often than not, a dance writer is doing something part way between these two extremes, what do they seem to be happy to assume the reader understands? Is the writer in an explicit or implicit dialogue with others in his profession, others who perform the dance or even himself? Considering such questions as these may help us when it comes to judging whether what is being described is what was being done or what the writer thought should be done, and how much freedom we might have when it comes to solving problems and filling out detail.
What is the purpose of the dance? Do you imagine what is being described was intended for virtuosic theatrical presentation, the formal showing-off of aristocratic grace early in a dance event, or the fulsome enjoyment of all at the end of party? As a dance may enjoy parallel lives in slightly different forms suited for different contexts, and as a dance writer may sometimes betray an awareness of this being the case in with respect a dance he’s describing, what seems to be the main function of the dance which the writer is describing? Considering such questions as these may help us when it comes to making judgements about dancers’ orientation and the level of complexity that might be expected/accepted.
What is the dances’ essence/theme/storyline? Several writers commented on how their dances told stories reflected in their titles (e.g. Cornazano writing of his balli. Mercantia and Sobria and Blasis of the quadrilles presented under Blasis’ New Quadrilles (see Volumes I and VIII). Sometimes the storyline changed as the dance evolves or inspires different versions (see my discussion of various dances under the name Menuet de la Cour), but every dance, be it a popular one of uncertain origin which survives in many forms or a paper invention with no record of ever being danced, has to some extent a simple distinguishing theme. Too often reconstructors (by themselves being dancers capable of doing the most complicated hard-to-remember patterns) miss the essential beauty and simplicity which the original choreographer was try to achieve, or (by themselves being too narrowly focused in their own interests) miss the analogous dance to which the choreographer is referring. Having identified a dance’s essential story-line, meaning or allusion, it may be possible to bring out this dimension in the judgements made in the course of the reconstruction. This gives the dancers who follow your reconstruction an opportunity to bring out the perceived story-line when they perform/enjoy the dance. Trying to be faithful to the meaning that was once put into a dance is also, I believe, a necessary part of showing respect to the artists who created the dance, to those of our ancestors for whom it was created and to the dance itself as an artistic creation in its own right.
What is the purpose of your reconstruction? When faced with several different descriptions of what seems to be essentially the same dance, are we trying to represent a possible original form that may lie behind several textual descriptions, are we trying to produce a dance which captures the most common form a dance might have taken? When faced with several different possible interpretations of a text are we trying to create a dance which brings out themes which we believe were once believed to be central to the dances’ identity or are we trying to create a dance which gives us the best physical sensation? For those dances which would seem to have had both a theatrical manifestation and an easier social manifestation, are we trying to capture the form in which experienced dances might express it or a form that which novices will find accessible?
How do we capture, reconstruct and bring to life the embellishment and improvisation that we know was such an import part of all the dance forms considered?
How do we teach what we are reconstructing? Dancing is not just about the feet, but also about using the ears, eyes brain and heart—and about having an enjoyable physical, social, emotional, intellectual and aesthetic communal experience while moving and relating to music, a partner and a group, so how do we factor all this into deciding, writing up and teaching our reconstruction?
Considering questions such as these may help us when making our own judgements and attempts, and may help us be more generous in our assessment of other people’s judgements and attempts. Of help to us as well may be some understanding of how ideas persist, on which I’ll now offer some thoughts.
~ Series Bibliography ~
For the dance-related primary sources used in the preparation of these Volumes see the annotated bibliography at the end of Part 5 of each Volume. Here I list the post-1900 secondary sources work that I have consulted in preparing these Volumes (without separating by Volume of greatest relevance as most works are relevant to more than one Volume). Those works that are translations of earlier works, are listed under the name of the editor or translator, and the surname of the original author given in italics, un-transcribed and unedited editions of earlier work under the works author.
I have not listed here or in Part 5 any of the dozens of not-primarily-dance-related sources I have referred to or quoted from, be they plays, poems, ballads, librettos, reminiscences, memoirs, diaries treatises, and biographies. I have simply cited these as I go.
This bibliography is not yet complete. I have not, for example, due to problems presenting Cyrillic script and not yet having had time to fully digest the contents, listed the many articles that feature in the proceedings edited by Evgenija Eremina-Solenikova of the annual St.Petersburgh conference Materiali chetvertoj konferentsii po voprosam rekonstruktsii ebropejskix istoricheskix tantsev XIII-XXvv., for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. This bibliography does, however, cover most consulted work and copies of all works named are in my dance library (as also are the primary sources named in Part 5 of each Volume).
The web-pages of Colonialmusic, Early Dance Circle, Greg Lindahl, Katherine Davies, Mixed Pickles, Richard Powers and Victorian Lace.
The web-sites, publications and videos of Rendance.org, DanceTime publications, and Regencydance.org.
The Library of Congress web-site: An American Ballroom Companion, Dance Instruction Manuals c. 1490-1920, for its facsimiles, transcriptions, articles and videos.
Robert M. Keller’s on-line and CDrom database The Dancing Master, 1651-1728: An Illustrated Compendium.
Many other digital sources of information and inspiration.
Anonymous writer, editor or translator.
Anon, ‘The dancing-master, a satyr’, Historical Dance, Volume 2, Number 6, 1988-91, pp.21-23.
Anon., Dance, a Very Social History, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rizzoli, 1986.
Anon., The Assembly Rooms Bath, The Authorised Guide, Published by the Bath & North East Somerset Council in association with the National Trust.
Anon., The Dance. Historic Illustrations of Dancing from 3300 B.C. to 1911 A.D. by An Antiquary, London, John Bale, Sons & Danielsson, Ltd, 1911.
Anon., The Favour of Your Company, Tickets and Invitations to London Events and Places of Interest c.1750-c.1850, Museum of London, 1980.
Various note contributors, ‘A New Treatise on the Art of Dancing’ First published in “The Lady’s Magazine” (I: Volume XVI) in Six Instalments (February, March, April, May, June, July 1785)’, Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research, Vol. 11, No.2 (Autumn, 1993), pp.43-59, pp.3-59.
The Rudiments of Genteel Behavior, Francis Nivelon, Forward by Paul Holberton, Afterword by Hugh Belsey, Paul Holberton publishing, London, 2003.
‘Arglwydd Dafydd Cyhoeddwr’ (John White), ‘An Introduction to the Lovelace Manuscript’, presented at Known World Dance Symposium 8, Bloomington, Indiana, 2011.
‘Arglwydd Dafydd Cyhoeddwr’ (John White), ‘Two Non-Playford English Country Dances from Lovelace’, presented at Known World Dance Symposium 8, Bloomington, Indiana, 2011
‘Arglwydd Dafydd Cyhoeddwr’ (John White), ‘The Lansdowne 1115 (“Moot Book”) manuscript’s dances’, presented at Known World Dance Symposium 8, Bloomington, Indiana, 2011
‘Baroness Jessa d’Avondale’, ‘Hearts Ease: Some Reconstruction Notes’, Letter of Dance Volume 2 and on-line.
‘Bjálfi Thordharson’, ‘Instructions for “Dargason”’, Letter of Dance Volume 2 and on-line.
‘Dani of the Seven Wells’, ‘Parson’s Farewell’, in Letter of Dance Vol. 1 and on-line.
‘Dani of the Seven Wells’, ‘The Origin of English Coutnry Dance’, in Letter of Dance Vol. 1 and on-line.
‘Daniel of Falling Rocks and Roselyne de l’Estrangere’, ‘The Brusels Manuscript: Transcription & Translation’, Letter of Dance Volume 2 and on-line.
‘Daniel of Falling Rocks, ‘Burgundiant Basse Dance: A Reconstruction of the Brussels MS, Letter of Dance Volume 2 and on-line.
‘Delbert von Straßburg’ (D. Elson), Del’s Dance Book, and The Music for Del’s Dance Book, 6th Edition, March 2003.
‘Felice Debbage’ ’32 Scempie Mutanze’ presented at Known World Dance Symposium 8, Bloomington, Indiana, 2011.
‘Fiammetta di Antonio di Donato Adimari’, ‘Anello’, Letter of Dance Volume 3 and on-line.
‘Fidelico de Rocheforte’, ‘John Playford, a Brief Biography’, Letter of Dance, volume 3 and on-line.
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Cruickshank, Diana, Danzare Et Sonare. 15th Century Italian Dances, arranged and played by the Longslade Consort. Dances interpreted by Diana Cruickshank.
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Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, A Lively Shape of Dauncing - Dances of Shakespeare's Time, published for Summers School 1994.
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Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, From Rout to Regency—Dances for the fashionable assembly in Britain and Europe, from Louis X1V to the Prince Regent, published for Summer School 2008.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, Georgian Delights—Dances from England c.1728, published for Summers School 1990.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, Georgian Delights—Dances from England c.1728, published for Summers School 1990
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, Il Ballarino—16th century Italian dances, published for Summers School 1886.
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Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, In the Italian Manner—Dances from the Royal Courts of Europe c.1600, published for Summers School 2007.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, L'arte perfetta del danzare—Dances of the 15th century, published for Summers School 2005.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, Minuet to Mazurka 1745-1845 Book and supplement, published for Summers School 2001.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, New Worlds, New Steps—Social Dancing 1780-1900 from Europe and America, published for Summers School 2004.
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Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, Princely Masques and Revels—Dances of the Stuart masque c.1611, published for Summers School 1991.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, Revels for 1588—English dances of the Armada year, published for Summers School 1988.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, Sonare et Balare—Dances of the 15th century, published for Summers School 1989.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, The Art of Dancing—Early Georgian dances 1714-1760, published for Summers School 1985.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, The First Refinement—Dances of the Early Nineteenth Century, published for Summers School 1997.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, To Celebrate a Prince—Dances of Lorenzo de' Medici's court, published for Summers School 1992.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, Una Festivita della Danza—Dances at a northern Italian court c. 1500, published for Summers School 2000.
Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society,... and then take hands—Dances of the court of James I, published for Summers School 2003.
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~ The persistence of ideas ~
From the late 15th to the late 19th century there were few arts or activities more exalted in western Europe than dance. Dance became an obsession, most visibly in surviving sources among the upper classes, but also clearly among the middle and lower classes as well. It became an essential ingredient in any aspiring person’s education, in any marriage arrangement and in any earnest social interaction or important celebration. Teachers became famous, dance schools proliferated, instruction books were best sellers and balls became media events. The upper, middle and lower classes snatched up each other’s choreographic ideas. Dance became a fashion, with the past revered and the new worshipped. In my 10 Historic Dance volumes I look closely at dance, dancing and dancing masters (the ball, the dance crazes, the technicalities, the repertoire and the manuals) as they took shape or manifested themselves across the whole of this period. At every turn we see change, fashion and invention. It’s useful, however, to sometimes step back and view the period as a whole from a distance. We then start to see the continuities which run through ballroom dance tradition from 1450 to 1900. Eras and dances start to fade away and in their place we see tendencies and propensities. In short we see the persistence of ideas. We see these ideas manifested in the persistence of the essential ball format, the persistence of imperatives influencing holds and orientations, the persistence of formations and mechanisms, and the persistence of figures and motifs. Together they make four dimensions of continuity.
Before I consider the above four dimensions of continuity in turn, I might note the following.
Firstly, the seeds of some of these ideas may have been sown by the folk beliefs and practises long before the period, but the only treatment of that subject which I propose is that I’ve offered in the introductory section on ‘The purpose of dance’.
Secondly, the examples offered are just the first ones to come to mind, and the names offered are those used for entries in these Volumes and are not necessarily the same as used in source texts.
Thirdly, I’ve not attempted to fully explore every idea or fully explain the relevance of every example. My aim here is simply to stimulate the readers’ thinking before they read and dance their way further into my Volumes.
Fourthly, I am not arguing dance didn’t change, even experience revolutions, or that formations and figures didn’t evolve or fall into or out of fashion. I’ll just be suggesting that there are continuities that can be traced and ideas that persisted. Understanding this may enhance the readers appreciation of individual dances, repertoires and periods and help when making reconstruction, performance and dance leading judgements.
The persistence of the essential ball format
Every era had its formal dances to open balls, its staid dances for early on, its frolicsome ones for later. Every era had its dances for both sets and couples, dances which don’t progress and ones which do. Every era had dances characterised by restraint and others involving gestures. Indeed, if you let your eyes follow the threads, you see that stretching from 1450 to 1900 is an institution we might simply call ‘the ball’. This term, from the Italian ballare, ‘to dance’, was used in a related form in most European languages. A ball might be anything from a small casual occasions in a private home, through larger but still private celebrations at a residence, to end-of term presentations of students by dancing masters, to public but select subscription assemblies, to large scale public ‘opera’ balls, to highly regulated court affairs at which designated dancers perform in a proscribe order, to elaborately staged spectacles that include masquerades offering well-rehearsed choreographies, before at the end bringing onlookers into a social dance. Whatever the context, for 450 hundred years the ball had roughly the same structure.
The beginning of the ball would establish the community. They were either everyone in dances such as basse danse, branles, polonaises or grand marches or formal displays establishing credentials, such as pavans, Old measure, courants, minuets.
The middle of the ball would tend to consist of an alternation between dances in different formations, to different rhythms and with different tempos, be it pavans into galliards, branles into gavotte, country dances to solo jig or hornpipe, cotillions and couples allemandes, quadrilles and couples dances—and often the variation would be achieved within one suites or sets, such as in a multipart Italian ballo, a French branle suite with additions, and multi-rhythm square set.
The end of a ball would feature dances which involve mixing, chaining and/or chance. These dances were invariably described towards the end of a dance manual. Thus Chiaranzana (a weavy progressive longways dance) and Piantone, a mixer where you slip away from one partner and take a new) are the second last and last dances in Caroso’s 1581 work (both in Volume II), Caccia d’Amore (a chasing dance) and Catena d’Amore (a chaining dance) are the second last and last dances in Negri’s 1602 work (both in Volume III), The Slip (related to part of Catena d’Amore) the last in Playford’s 1651 work (Volume IV), La Chasse (related to the chaining dances above) and La Chaine the 3rd and 2nd last dances in Feuillet’s 1706 contredanse book (both in Volume V), Roger de Coverley and La Boulangere (both dances which involve ‘stripping’ all those of opposite gender in the set and both in Volumes VII and later ones) known as ‘Finishing dances’ in Regency England, and in the late 19th century would involve cotillion dance games, which not surprisingly often include mixing through chaining or chance .
Persistence of imperatives influencing holds and orientations.
When you take a distant view of dance, you see that the dance which emerged in the renaissance did so as an extension of chivalric etiquette, and the underlying imperative of etiquette continued to be shape the evolution of ballroom dance for the next 400 years. Five main imperatives influenced the dance floor holds and orientations which evolved in Renaissance times and which continued to influence dance through to this century.
The first was to have the woman on the man’s right hand side. It may have come about as a consequence of most men being right handed and thus needing to have their sword on their left side. Out of this imperatives comes the propensity for couples to form upward facing sets with the woman on the man’s right.
The second was for the man to have the sense that he is leading the woman. Contemporaries were conscious of this, for as Arena commented 500 years ago, a man should not let his woman go too fast, nor lag behind him lest ‘a wolf carry her off’. This imperative is also clearly seen in dances that seem to break the rule. Thus, three person dances intended to function as files led by the left hand end dancer, are usually described as being for a woman between two men (i.e. a man starting out on the left hand end—see, for example, Domenico’s description of Jupiter, Volume I) and those which are designed for three starting in an upward facing cross-dance-space line are often described as for a man between two ladies (thus giving the man the chance to lead both women equally (see for example La Vita di Cholino, Volume I).
There is no strict rule when it comes to either the above (for example, Bellezze d’Olimpia in Volume II is described as starting with the woman on the man’s left, and Voltati in ça Rosina in Volume I is described variously as with the man or woman in the middle), but out of the combination of these two imperatives might have come the seemingly contradictory ballroom propensities for couples to circle clockwise (she following him to the left) and for couples to promenade anti-clockwise (she being led by him around the longer route, with a satisfying tension in their hold).
The third imperative was to share leadership between the genders, and one of the earliest and simplest ways to do this was to give the woman the opportunity to do whatever the man did. Thus in the later part of the 15th century when we do not seem to have as well developed sense of ‘the presence as we have in the late 16th and 17th century, a dance may be lead in one direction and then, with the woman leading, in the other. If arranged in couples you can wheel about as couples (as I suggest for the front couple in Anello (Volume I) and as Arbeau suggests when wanting to make a return in a basse dance). You can also, as many 15th century texts imply, simply turn as individuals on a final riverenza/reverence, pair of continenze/branles or final step onto right foot). After such as turn the woman might be able to assume the man’s role when it comes to leading a promenade or figures. Which was the primary imperative, to change direction or to change leader? I suspect the later, for we see many dances trying to factor in a rotation of roles.
The fourth imperatives, particularly with the advent of aristocratic indoor dancing, was fitting rectangular dance spaces. Thus while the Almain dance form seems to have been born in the open air and carried into later centuries a propensity to have couples circulate in a wide arc around a dance space, the French basse danse and the Italian bassadanza and ballo seem to involve rectilinear movement. In these ‘ballroom’ dance forms there is always some action across the vertical axis (either individual sideways steps or changing places with partner) but most movement is up and down the main vertical axis and if there is to be significant ‘story-line’ separation of partners, it is invariably along this vertical axis. The only time that it is conceivable that dancers might go about in a big circle would seem to be in those lively final free-travelling ‘after-dance’ sections of basse danses and balli which seem to be a relic of an earlier dance heritage so are the exception that proves the rule.
The persistence of formations and mechanisms
Across the 450 years under consideration, some formations and mechanisms fell out of use (for example. the moving set), some came into fashion (for example, the free turning couples dance) but most simply evolved slowly and persisted. Nearly all in any case can be explained in terms of the interplay between the above imperatives and a dozen ideas that lasted. They include:
1. The idea of codify then repeating figures. Ballroom dance in this period was not freestyle expressionism, but rewarding arrangements of easy to remember figure and step units. These were not just haphazard or inevitable consequences of having two arms and two legs. They were the consequence of developing propensities. A figure or step sequence may be repeated by different dancers (as in the relaying of figures down a line in many 15th century dances in Volume I, or up and down a column (as in Black Nag in Volume IV) or in a quadrille where the lead passes around the square). They may be repeated by the same dancers on a different axis (in a Renaissance ballet the rotation is likely to be 180 degree, in a Barque one 90 degree, in English whole set dance it might involve 180 degree rotation (as in Lansdowne no.4, Goddesses, Ten Pound Lass (1) in Volume III, Argeers, Aye Me, Fain I would, and Prince Rupert’s March in Volume IV, and The Royal Galopade in Volume VIII), in a French or English contredanse à deux it might involve repeating the figure with the next person around the circle, and in squares of all periods it might involve doing something with one’s partner then doing the same in counterpart with one’s corner). Figures and steps may be repeated by the same lead couple but with new opposites (as in the longways duple and triple minor country dance and their offspring). They might be done first by one gender then by the other. They may be repeated in a verse-chorus arrangement (as in the 4 person Bizzaria D’Amore and Bianco Fiore in Volume III, 6 person Brando di Cales in Volume III, many English country dance sets in Volume III and IV, in Cotillion de Fete de Thalie in Volume V and in all the Cotillions in Volume VI), or, if a couples dance, in a chorus-mutanze (‘variation’) arrangement (see Canario (1) and (2) in Volume II and III). Often the repetition of a figure and or step sequences in a new orientation, in new company or in question-and-answer succession correspond to the repetition of a musical phrase or idea (and this holds for both sets and couples dances).
2. The idea of making suites that progress from simple to more flashy figures, steps or holds. This, in a way, is idea 16 in the section below (‘The idea of ‘the feign before the full’) writ large. We see it in the progression through the Old Measures suite in Volume II, through Branles—opening suite (1) in Volume II and (2) in Volume III, in the progression through some of the joined progressive contredanse figures in dances such as Lavena, Maiden Lane and Jamaica / La bonne Amitié in Volume IV, and in such early 19th century couples dances as Waltz (1) in Volume VII, Polka (1), Polka (3) / Grand Baden Polkas and Redowa (2) in Volume VIII. Even inside what might be thought of as a single improvised dance the same principle of the dividing sequence with progressively quicker and fancier steps holding in Canario (1), Galliard (1) and (2), Pavan (1), Pavaniglia / Spanish Pavan (1) (all in Volume II), in Canario (2) in Volume III and in Pabana / Spanish Pavan (2) in Volume IV.
3. The idea of randomly changing partners or cutting-in. This can be found as much in late renaissance dances as in 19th century dances. Thus the partner changing in the dances I’ve presented under Courante, Ballo del Fiore (1), Ballo del Fiore (2) / Branle du chandelier (2), and Galliard (2) in Volume II and under Caccia d’Amore and Piantone in Volume III. Thus the same in La Perigordine and the Polonaise (both in Volume VII) and in the Russian practise of making a couples dance just once or twice around the ballroom before changing partners.
4. The idea of slipping away from a set. This can be found in Arbeau’s Gavotte (1) (Volume II), Negri’s Catena d’Amore and De Lauze’s Gavotte (Volume III), Playford’s The Slip and The Dancing Master’s Cushion dance (Volume IV)—with the latter still popular 150 years later (Volume VII), and the idea is also manifest in the ‘Final’ figure of mid-19th century Cotillion-mazurka for many (see Volume VIII).
5. The idea of the ‘snowballing’ a two person dance sequence. Instead of one retiring after doing the sequence, both dancers would activate another dancer, and this would continue to all were dancing. A progressive 2 person figure being done first between partners at the top of a set and then with the next of the opposite gender in line till all are ‘snowballed’ in, can be found in Part 6 of Chiaranzana (Volume II) and such contredance à deux of the later English and French tradition as A Health to Betty (Volume III), in The Cobbler’s Jig, Irish Trot and Joan’s Placket (Volume IV) and in La Coquette, Moll Peatley the New Way, Parson upon Dorothy (2) and Le Pistolet (Volume V).
6. The idea of visiting. One or two dancers progressing around the inside of a circle greeting and figuring with other dancers in turn is the essence of A Rose is a Rose and Jack’s Pudding (both in Volume III) and of The Chirping of the Nightingale (2), Kemp’s Jig, Mill-field Peppers Black and Put on a Smock on a Monday (all in Volume IV), and is an idea still at play in quadrilles such as Mazurka Quadrille (2) and the Fancy Quadrille Figures (both in Volume VIII) and in modern day Appalachian running sets and western square dances.
7. The idea of a leader choosing those to participate. Selecting first members of one sex, then partners to join them, can be found as much in Caroso’s Contrapasso (2) in Volume II as in late 19th century cotillion dance games.
8. The idea of following a graceful step-sparse group-oriented ‘low’ processional dance with an exuberant step-busy couples-oriented ‘high’ dance. We find it in the pairing in the 15th century of bassedance with saltarello (see Volume I), and in the 16th century of pavan with galliard (see Volume II). We find it still in the 19th century pairing of the polonaise and the waltz (see Polonaise (3) in Volume VII and Polonaise (4) / Grand March in Volume X) and of quadrilles in the early 19th century by a waltz and in the late 19th century by a galop. Sometimes these pairings are hidden inside the same dance—for example, in Pavan Matthei in Volume II, where a pavan like opening is followed by lengthy galliard variants, and in Magri’s Contradanza XXXVIII and Winterschmid’s Neu Figurirte Polonoise presented as Polonaise (2) (both in Volume VI), where the leading up, crossing over, casting, and turning down (‘teutscher’) of the later can all be found in the ‘taice’ section of the latter. It might be no surprise that, in the dance presented under Polonaise (3) in Volume VII Chivers follows his March not just with a waltz but with the liveliest form of waltz, a ‘Sauteuse’. Possible expressing the same need in a more oblique way, are all the balli and ballets of 16th to 18th century Italy and France that end with a sciolta or lively passage, and such later ‘medley’ dances as Quatre Saisons (in Volume VI) and Highland Laddie and Mr Chivers’ Fancy (in Volume VII).
9. The idea of taking a turn leading a dance. The rotation of dance leadership can be a rotation between sexes. Thus in 15th century Italian texts there are often calls for a whole dance sequence to be done first with the man leading and the second time with the woman—sometimes in the opposite direction. This is particularly the case with the bassadanze (for example Alexandresca, Amaroso, Belriguardo, Castelana, Grazioso, Lauro, Lioncello vechio (all in Volume I), but it is occasionally also the case with sets (for example, Anello and Pizochara (both in Volume I). The rotation of dance leadership can also be a rotation between who out of three takes the lead position (see, for example, the Italian described Belfiore and Petit Rhinense (Volume I), the English described Eglamowr (Volume I) and French described Branle de la Hey (Volume II). You also find rotation of dancer leadership in more complicated settings such as Mercantia (Volume I). We find change in gender leadership accompanied by a change in travel direction in Coranto d’Espagne and Boon Companion (in Volume III) and Lord of Carnavan’s Jig and third figure of The Irish Trot (both presented in Volume IV). The desire for ‘even-handedness’ in leading dances or parts of dances persists all the way through to 19th century quadrilles.
10. The idea of starting a multi-part couples dance side-by-side near the entrance, and with symmetrical figures moving toward the presence, separating, reuniting, then return to point of commencement. Whether it be mirror or parallel, in step or figure, or a combination of all, the symmetry is there in all Renaissance Italian balli and Baroque French ballets, and it is still subtly there when the couples dance revolution of the late 18th and early 19th century reoriented the ‘entrance’ and ‘presence’ to a continuous ‘line-of-dance’ around a dance space.
11. The idea of the man going up toward the present and the woman going down. The propensity, when genders separate, for the man to go up and the woman down (ready to perform some facing figures on that vertical axis), persists through several centuries. The propensity can be seen in dances such as Amaroso (for 2), Grazioso and the Gresley ms Libeaus Desconus (all in Volume I). The propensity might also be at play in a minor way in all those dozens of dances where it is the man first who goes forward before the woman joins him. It may also be at play in all those 3 person dances where the middle goes forward first and then the ends join them—e.g. Gioioso for 3, Lioncello Nuovo and Voltati in ça Rosina (all in Volume I). In dances such as these the middle has inheriting/adopted the man’s couple dance role, even if the middle’s role is danced by a woman. In late 16th century dances in which couples are instructed to separate to different ends of the room it is not always specified who goes to which end but in Caroso’s Barriera (Volume II), Negri’s Torneo Amaroso (Volume III) and Lupi’s Alta Carretta (Volume III) it is specified that the man goes to a forward position and the woman back towards her starting position. In set dances too we find separations of genders where the men go up first, and are then joined by the women—see for example The Friar and the Nun (Volume III) and Scotch Cap (in Volume IV). We find the same in all the 18th and 19th minuet variants presented under Minuet (1) & (2), Menuet de la Cour (1) and Congo Minuet in Volumes V, VI and VII.
12. The idea of having the 1s start improper in a longways set. Many early country dances contrived to have the 1s improper soon after the commencement of a sequence (see for example Bellamira / The Baulk (1) and Mr Beveridge’s Maggot in Volume IV) and soon they were starting improper (see for example the King of Poland and Lorin’s version of Valentine’s Day). The popularity of the quadrille encouraged still further couple-facing-couple starts and the popularity of the Écossaise, Mescolanze, Spanish, Sicilian and Circassian dance forms, along with the bending of the column into a double circle and the simultaneous start.
The persistence of figures and motifs
Though terminology and context might change, most ‘building block’ figures persisted for nearly the entire 450 years under consideration (be it arming, arching, back-to-back, casting, changing, circling, clapping, crossing, gypsying, kissing, leading, meeting, retiring, setting, milling or turning), and many ‘building blocks’ that seem to fall out of use (for example, ‘up and back’ and ‘siding’ which start to disappear from sources in the last quarter of the 17th century) or come into fashion (for example, the allemande, poussette and turning corners which start to appear frequently in sources in the last quarter of the 18th century) can, upon closer inspection, be found to have a longer life than term use would suggest. I will not discuss the history of any of these figures here—referring the reader instead to the figure section of Part 3 of my various Volumes. What I would like to here flag are some perennial pattern propensities that are rarely captured in a single word but often seem to be the essential reason for a dance. They include:
1. The idea of following-a-leader into and out of knots. It is manifest in Chirintana (Volume I) through such courtly medleys as Caroso’s Chiranzana (Volume II) and Negri’s Caccia d’Amore and La Catena d’Amore (Volume III), to the ‘snail’ figure in Polonaise (2) / Neu Figurirte Polonoise (in Volume VI) and Polonaise (4) in Volume VIII and in such 19th century Cotillion figures as ‘Le Colimaçon (or The Snail)’ and ‘The Labyrinth’ presented in my entry Cotillion with circles and columns (in Volume VIII) and quadrille finales as the Farandole (see Volume IX and X). We see it in a contained form in the ‘go compass’ figure in Adson’s Saraband in Volume IV and La Cométe and La Maison du Bois, both in Volume VI, and in the one file around another in Goddesses in Volume III and Le Tourbillon and Pleasure of the Town (1) in Volume VI. Not unrelated is simply coming out or leading off in a file as respectively happens the Negri balli Il Pastor Leggiadro and Ballo nuovo fatto da sei Cavalieri, both in Volume III. The latter also contains in its 3rd part the same idea of two follow-the-leader lines weaving through each other that we have in the 19th century cotillion ‘The Serpent’ in my Cotillion with mixing entry in Volume X, and which may have been one of the ways heys first originated.
2. The idea of having a follow-the-leader line bend back on itself. We see this in Belfiore and Vita di Cholino (Volume I), Branle de la Haye (Volume II), and Hunt the Squirrel (Volume V). The idea of 2 such lines meeting head-to-head can be found in the 3rd part of Negri’s Ballo nuovo fatto da sei Cavalieri (Volume III), Dargeson (Volume IV) and such 19th century cotillion figures as ‘The Serpent’ (Cotillion with mixing Volume X)—and in these phenomena we glimpse the beginnings of the hey that figures in a thousand dances.
3. The idea of ‘stripping’ a set or ‘bootlacing’. Having an active couple travel between two lines turning or passing in alternation neighbours and partner is a very ancient and long-lived idea. We see it in Catena d’Amore and (we presume) Trenchmore in Volume III, in Daphne in Volume IV, in La Chaîne, La Chasse, and Hamstead Heath in Volume V, all the way through to Sir Roger de Coverley (2)-(5) in Volume VII, VIII and X and The Norwegian Dance in Volume VIII.
4. The idea of taking turn leading a figure. We see it in the gender alternation of movimenti, departures&returns, encirclings, beckonings, chasings and kissings in dances such as Amaroso, Belriguardo Nuovo, Colonense, La Danse de Cleves, Eglamowr, L’Esperance de Bourbon, Esperans, Grazioso, Legiardra, Lioncello vechio, Pizochara, Prigionera, Rostiboli Gioioso, Temperans and Verçepe (all in Volume I). We find it in nearly every one of Caroso’s cascade and balleti (see for example Bassa Toscana in Volume II and Laura Suave and Nido d’Amore in Volume III). We see it still in such 17th century English country dances as Friar and the Nun, Graies Inn Mask and St. John / Dull Sir John (Volume III), Gathering Peascods and Goddesses (Volume IV) and Lover’s Luck, My Lord Byron’s Maggot and Cold and Raw (Volume V). We see it still in all the 18th and 19th century chasing dances. In set dances such as Anello and Tesara (both in Volume I) we have patterns of alternate rising that are near identical form in Parson’s Farewell (Volume IV) 200 years later, and in the intervening 4 person theatrical dance Il Pastor Leggiadro (Volume III) we also have some figures done first by the men then the women. The rotation of figure leadership is not always by gender, sometimes it is by order in set. This might mean ‘relaying’ or ‘shivering’ a very small figure down a line of 3, as with leaps in the Gresley ms’ Prenes a gard (Volume I) and Playford’s New Exchange (Volume IV), or as with other small elements in Petit Rinense, Belfiore and Esperans (all in Volume I). If might mean couples taking turn doing figures in 3 couple sets such as Furioso (Volume II) and The Black Nag, Jenny Pluck Pears and Maid in the Moon (Volume IV). Rotation of couple leading whole figure sets is essentially what we find in 17th and 18th century contredanse mechanism and in the 18th century and 19th century square sets (cotillions then quadrilles).
5. The idea of having an opportunity for one sex to regard the other. This is detectable in all those dances from the 15th century onward that have figures alternated between genders, and in those balletti from the late 16th and early 17th century which just before the final taking of hands to bow have the man zig-zag back and forward while the woman turns single each way (as in Bellezza d’Olimpia and Contrapasso in Volume II and Alta Carretta in Volume III). Its detectable in the competition between men in galliards and early English country dances such as Lightly Love (Volume III), in 18th century cotillions which have the women do a pirouette in the middle of the set, in early quadrilles like Blasis’ New Quadrilles (Volume VIII) which give time for lady and gentlemen’s solos, and in quadrilles such as Quadrille Français (Volume VII onward) and New Caledonian Quadrille (Volume IX) which include a cavalier seul. It is also worth noting that the viewer need not remain stationary, but to show their engagement (and appreciation that even while viewing the other they themselves are being viewed) might move gently, as with the men zig-zagging in the above mentioned contexts, or as with the women’s passeggiando while the man does mutanza in a dance Pavan Matthei and as with the man doing a balancé while the woman does a pirouette in Aimable Vainqueur (and then the reverse). The viewee, on the other hand, doesn’t need to always do much other than bow if they are guided by their partners into the middle of a square set and are there simultaneously under the gaze of 4 dancers of the opposite gender, as happens in Jenny Plucked Pairs in Volume IV, in Mr Chivers’ Fancy in Volume VII and in Les Varietés Parisiennes (Volume IX).
6. The idea of going from promenading to gypsying to single hand turns to two hand turns. Going from promenading to two hand turning one’s partner in various ways might be seen in depictions of the earliest German peasant dance (discussed in Part 2 of Volume I) through to the ballroom couples dance presented under Allemande (3) and (4) in Volumes VI and VII respectively, and doing so with the intermediary stage of gypsying or single hand turns can be seen in many dances besides. It can be glimpsed in Alesandresca, Gelosia, Gioiso for three, Lauro and Tesara (all in Volume I) We see this figure order in late 16th century balletti such as Bellezze d’Olimpia, Contrapasso, Pavan Matthei and Villanella (all in Volume II). We find it in the English Inns of Court Black Almain (Volume II). We see it also echoed/remnant in the up-and-back, siding and arming chorus figures in the mid-17th century English country dances presented in Volume III and IV. We see all 4 elements in order in the early 18th century minuet (from the opening, to ‘the reverse S’, to the presentation of the arms, to the final 2 hand turn). An exception which to some extent proves the rule is Contentezza d’Amore. In this dance 2 hands are taken right at the beginning of the dance for the bow, a continenze each way and 4 riprese each way. This may, however, only be because the dance is about the ‘contentment of love’ rather than the process of courting, so they have ‘fast-forwarded’ the relationship to start already full acquainted. The dance still obeys the ‘rule’ in that the last of the three times hands are taken the turn involves more action than earlier.
7. The idea of promenading then turning to partner to cross, set and/or honour, cross back, set and/or honour, kiss or lift. We find this expressed in Prenes en gre (Volume I), Madame Cecilia’s Almain (Volume II) and Spagnioletta (2) (Volume III)—all from English sources and all nearly the same dance—and at play in different ways from dances such as Amaroso (Volume I) and similar dances in the 15th century Italian manuscripts to The Cake Walk (presented in Volume X), which went at the end of the 19th century from being a parody on upper-class dance to being an upper-class dance.
8. The idea of chasing the opposite sex. This favourite theme usually involves just two individuals while other offer the terrain around which the hunt takes place—and in this form can be traced from Lamberti’s La Caccia d’Amore (1) (Volume II) to Negri’s La Caccia d’Amore (2) (Volume III), through all the more subtle progressive duple and triple forms represented by Cold and Raw, The Jovial Beggers and Red House (1) (Volume IV) and The Busie Body, Butter’d Pease (1), Cheshire Rounds, Hunt the Squirrel, Madam Robin / Mad Robin (2), Mr Lane’s Trumpet Minuet (1), The Recruiting Officer and Red House (2) (Volume V) to La Maison du Bois (Volume VI) and dances, such as Chase the Lady or Chase the Squirrel (Volume IX), where it is not your partner that is being chased but your corner. Sometimes the chasing involves a whole line following another to one wall and then the tables being turned, as in Adson’s Saraband, New Bo-peep and (in a way), Punk’s Delight and Ten Pound Lass (Volume IV), then later in continental European dances such as Magri’s Contradanza (1) and Gautier’s La Fuiarde (in Volume VI) to the American Sackett’s Harbour (Volume VII).
9. The idea of chaining/weaving/‘dip&diving’ down a longways set. This most longlived idea is at play in dances such as Caroso’s Chiaranzana (Volume II) and Negri’s La Catena d’Amore and Caccia d’Amore (Volume III), through Pattricke/Lovelace’s Trenchmore (Volume III) and Playford’s Daphne (Volume IV). It’s still at play in Feuillet’s La Chaine and The Dancing Master’s Hamstead Heath (in Volume V), in Coulon’s The Norwegian Country Dance (Volume IX) and the ubiquitous Sir Roger de Coverley (4) & (5) (Volume X).
10. The idea of teasing the opposite gender. This manifests itself in such early balli as Ingrata Malgratiosa, Mercantia and Sobria in Volume I, the improvised mixing dances that stretched from Caccia d’Amore in Volume III to cotillion games in Volume VIII and X. It also manifests itself in the offering and slapping away of hands in Italian balli such as Celeste Giglio (in Volume III) and the offering but turning down of hands in such English country dances as Bob in the Bed (Volume V), The Baulk (2) (Volume VI) and Cheat the Lady (Volume VII) and later in the ‘Cheat’ of the Fancy Quadrille Figures (Volume VIII).
11. The idea of promiscuously liaising with a corner (be they distant or not so distant). We see this in dances from Gelosia (in Volume I), but thereafter dances most notably in English source dances such as The Chirping of the Nightingale (1), Light of Love and An Old Man is a Bed Full of Bones (in Volume III), and Hockley in the Hole, Staynes Morris and Paul’s Steeple (all in Volume IV), to the Black Dance (Volume VI), The Triumph (1) and (2) and Sir Roger de Coverley (Volume VII) and the Lady’s Triumph / Triumph (3) (Volume VIII). The late 18th century dancing master ‘A.D.’ even had a name for this—‘Shifting partners’.
12. The idea of one man taking another’s partner and advancing 3 a-breast on the one left alone. We this find in The Chirping of the Nightingale (2) and Irish Trott (in Volume IV) and the idea reached the zenith of its expression in the cavalier seul figure of the third figure of the Quadrille Français (see Volume VII), which was then echoed in many other quadrilles (such as in some of the Mazurka Quadrilles in Volume VIII and in the Polo Quadrille in Volume X).
13. The idea of a dance miming courting by having a couple start side-by-side then separate, cross with reverse ‘S’, right hand turn, left hand turn, cross again and then two hand turn to place. This idea runs through most early couples dances with elements scattered through Renaissance cascarde such as Alta Regina, La Castellana, Chiara Stella, Il Conto del Orco, and Graca Amorosa, 2 couples dances such as La Battaglia, Bianco Fiore and Bizzaria d’Amore, balletti such as in Bellezze d’Olimpia and Celeste Giglio, and other dances such as Canarios, Galliards and Pavan Matthei. The idea is exquisitely expressed in the 18th century Minuet à deux (Volumes V and VI and VIII) the Menuet de la cour (Volume VI and X) variants.
14. The idea of miming a joust. This idea seems to be at play in all those 15th century dances where you quickly pass by an opposite or two—such as Spero, as well as in Caroso’s Allegrezza d’Amore, Bella Gioiosa, Bassa Toscana Squillina (Volume II) and Negri’s La Battaglia and Torneo Amaroso (Volume III). In some of Caroso’s dances the passing through is even called a giostra (joust) and in some of Negri’s dances hand clapping seems inspired by the clashing of swords. The idea may also be at play in such corner crossing as we find in Black Nag (Volume IV) or down the middle slipping as in The Milking Payle / Merry Merry Milkmaids (2) (Volume III) or even perhaps brisk lead-up-through-while-others-cast-off figure in dances such as Maiden Fair (Volume III) and Tythe Pig (Volume IV). It lingers still in the tiroirs and ‘change side’ figure that we find in such Écossaises, Spanish Dances and quadrille influenced contradanses as The Attempt, Isabella (1), Joan’s Placket (2a), Jumping Joan (3b) and Russian Dance (1) in Volume VII. The charging with spears image is again explicit in the final figure of the Lancers’ Quadrille (1), (2) and (3) in Volume VII.
15. The idea of ‘the feign before the full’. Sometime it means doing a half circuit, hey or chain before doing a full one (as in Jupiter in Volume I, Furioso (1) in Volume II, Contrapasso Nuovo, Goddesses and Lo Spagnoletto in Volume III and Chestnuts in Volume IV). Sometimes it means doing a half elbow turn each way before doing a full one, as in Moll Peatley, the New way (Volume V). Sometimes it means doing a siding before hand turning or arming all the way, as in Alexandresca, Gelosia and Castelana in Volume I and most of the English country dances in Volume III and IV). Sometimes it means doing a one hand turn before doing a two hand turn (as in many Renaissance dances and in 18th century minuet). Sometimes it means doing hand turns on either side before doing full 3 person hey (as in La Vita di Cholino and Voltati in ça Rosina in Volume I, as in the Scotch Reels in Volume VII and as still found in Dashing White Sergeant today). Sometimes it means a growing intimacy in the figures that end playings, as in Lupi’s Alta Carretta (Volume III) where dancers go from side-by-side action, to taking turns backing each other, to mutually fall back and meeting, to taking alternate hand and implied turning, and as in Paul’s Steeple (Volume IV) where the dancers seem to first bow then kiss, then kiss in private.
16. The idea of setting then turning. There are no shortage of figure combinations described in Renaissance texts which would seem to be the functional equivalent of the ubiquitous English country dance ‘set and turn single’ (see, for example, Fedeltà in Volume II and Lo Spagnoletto and Il Bianco Fiore in Volume III), and even after the ‘set and turn single’ has fallen from fashion we see the same inclination to balance then pirouette in Baroque ballets (for example, Aimable Vainqueur in Volume V) and in Rococo cotillions (for example, Les Jolis Garçons).
17. The idea of transferring figures directly from one formation or ‘genre’ or rhythm to another. We see this manifest in the way Mundesse (Volume III) seems to be the reorientation of an almain couples dance into a square set, and the way the interlacing of arms in the Allemande (see Volume V, VI and VII) were transferred over into cotillions, country dances and new couples dances. We see it also in how the figures in The Cinderella Cotillion (Volume VIII) appear in new rhythms in Varieties Parisienne (Volume IX). We see it also in the way the Polonaise and Minuet led to the Cake Walk and Congo Minuet respectively (both in Volume X). Sometimes the music and basic idea persist even though all the detail will change (see Menuet de la cour (1) in Volume VI and the Menuet de la cour (2) and Menuet da la Reine (3) / Menuet de la cour (3) in Volume X).
18. The idea of finishing a sequence with weavings or heys. We find this in 15th century dances such as Belfiore, Chirintana, Colonnese. Pizochara Villanella, Esperans, Jupiter, Tesara, La Vita di Cholino and Voltati in ça Rosina in Volume I and in 16th century dances such as the Inns of Court’s Coranto d’Espagne, Caroso’s Allegrezza d’Amore, Bella Gioiosa, Furiosa, Squilina and Spagnoletta Nuova and Arbeau’s Branle de la Haye, Branle de la Montarde and Les Bouffons in Volume II. We find this in dances such as Negri’s Il Bianco Fiore, Bizzaria d’Amore and Il Pastor Leggiadro, and in Pattricke/Lovelace manuscript’s Goddesses and Greenwood (1) in Volume III, and in Cherrily and Merrily, Daphne, Dargason, Easter Tueday, Graies Inn Mask (2), Greenwood (2), Grimstock, Mage on a Cree, New Exchange, Nonesuch / A la mode de France, Red House (1), Parson’s Farewell, Scotch Cap, Woodicock in Volume IV. In dances such as The Milking Payle / Merry Merry Milkmaids (1) and (2) in Volume III and IV respectively there are multiple heys, but always finishing part of the dance. In the 18th and 19th century there are too many examples to name, as the ‘right and left’ figure that ended nearly every second country dance and ended many quadrille figures might be thought of a descendant of the same idea. Fuller heys, are however, also still to be found, and still at the end of a sequence—for example, in Greensleeves and Yellow Lace and Redhouse (2) in Volume V, in late 18th century cotillions such as The Belles of Norwich, La Chasse and La Jesuite (Volume VI), in the various versions of the Scotch Reel (Volume VII) and in such quadrilles as Quadrille Français and The New Caledonians (Volume IX). Having these braids or heys come at the end of a sequence, as they invariably do, seems to be a manifestation of a timeless desire to finish a dance with something all-involving. Where several heys appear in the same dance the most forgiving usually comes before the quickest or most complicated (e.g. Contrapasso Nuovo in Volume III and Grimstock and Mage on a Cree in Volume IV). Thus, whether the dance be theatrical, ballroom or rustic, whether the source be Italian, French or English and whether the weave is in the context of a grand one around a whole group round, a medium size one around a minor set of 3 or 4 couples or a small ‘rights and left’ there is a persistent tendency for the weaving or heying to come (with but few exceptions) at the end of a dance sequence.
19. The idea of having some figures overlapped or ‘canonised’. This is not strongly manifest in the tradition with which we are concerned as so much of the social ballroom dance from the 15th to 19th century depended on someone doing a figure first and then others copying. We do, however, see some use of the ‘overlap’ in dances such as Negri’s Bianco Fiore and La Battaglia (Volume III), in Gathering Peascods where one gender advances while the other retires, and in The Fine Companion where the sides advance while the tops retire (both in Volume IV). We also see it in the grand square figure in Hunsdon House in Volume IV, Mr Caverley’s Minuet in Volume V, Le Quadrille and Les Quadrilles in Volume VI, and in many latter quadrilles. The overlapping of tops and side figures become particular common in late 19th century quadrille choreographies, such as Coulon’s Double Quadrille (Volume IX) and Le Polo and Le Quadrille de Jean Gilles (Volume X)
20. The idea of changing the shape of the set. Choreographers often contrived for a three-couple or triple minor dance which starts with dancers facing across the set to pass through a moment when lines of three are facing each other up and down the set, as in Lansdowne No.4 (Volume III), Scotch Cap and St Margaret’s Hill (Volume IV), La Fuiarde, Contradanza I and The Macaroni (all in Volume VI), Downfall of Paris (Volume VII) and Sackett’s Harbor (Volume VIII), with the change of orientation being marked by one line setting to, advancing towards and or retiring from the other. A square set might also be made to turn into facing lines, as in Lull me Beyond Thee and Newcastle (Volume IV), La Bionni (Volume V), Les Quadrilles and Mr Turner’s Cotillion (Volume VI) through to the Lancers Quadrille (1), (2) and (3) in Volume VII. Most spectacularly facing lines may change into a giant cross, then single circle, then concentric circle then back to facing lines as in Contradanza XXXVIII in Volume VI.
21. The idea of turning minor sets in a single vertical and horizontal line. Choreographers have always loved performing origami with formations. We find momentary horizontal lines created in Negri’s Ballo nuovo fatto da sei Cavalieri and Il Pastor Leggiadro (Volume III), in Jacob Hall’s Jig, Hobb’s Wedding, Lover’s Luck, Mr Beveridge’s Maggot, Mr Isaac’s Maggot, Mr Lane’s Maggot, My Lady Cullen’s, Scotch Measures, Step Stately and Strawberries and Cream (1) (Volume IV) and Les Galeries d’Amour, Mr Priest’s Minuet, Poor Robin’s Maggot (1) and We’ll Wed and We’ll Bed (Volume V), and Good Girl in Volume VIII. We find the forming of momentary vertical lines featured in Graies Inn Maske (1) (Volume III), Duke of Gloucester, Nonesuch and Scotch Cap (Volume IV), Mr Caverley’s Minuet and The Toast (Volume V). We find it also in a large scale in Contradanza XXXVIII (Volume VI) and in dances such as The Lancers’ Quadrille (1), (2) and (3) in Volume VII and Waltz Cotillion in Volume VIII, and find the not unrelated Polonaise (in which the single line may become a spiral, as in Polonaise (2) in Volume VI. Some choreographies, such as Le Jardin Enchanté (Volume VI), manage to turn a square set into both a vertical and a later horizontal line. The idea of having some in a horizontal line facing one way and others another and then setting to neighbours in that line (before turning or heying) can be detected in early person ‘triangle’ from Vita di Cholino (Volume I) to the Scotch Reel for 3 in Volume VII, and in a 4 person form in the single quadrille La Poule (1) (Volume VII), with its balancing 4-in-line persisting in the standard Quadrille Français (Volume VII to X), transferred to country dances such as La Poule (2) (Volume VII) and surviving in dances such as Hull’s Victory (VIII).