A selection of craft information for artisans of the HFS.

    Dancing in the European Middle Ages

    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir
    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir

    Posts : 28
    Join date : 2011-06-02
    Age : 51

    Dancing in the European Middle Ages Empty Dancing in the European Middle Ages

    Post  Dame Katrin Karlsdottir on Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:26 pm

    This is a collection of cheat-sheets designed to accompany
    the dance music
    collection as published by Lady Phaedria d'Aurillac. It also includes descriptions of the dance steps.

    This collection is currently incomplete, but the intent is
    to give a concise description of all the dances, along with the source of the
    dance. Many dances traditionally danced in historical re-enactment groups which
    aren't actually from before 1600 are also given, along with the damning
    evidence of their origin I hope that this collection will be sufficient to
    allow you to teach a dance once you've seen it danced once and have looked at
    the cheat sheet. Enjoy.

    Getting the music

    A discography of
    commercial recordings of most of these dances is available.

    Description of Dance Steps

    <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-right:.5in;mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:
    auto;margin-left:.5in">In general, one always starts on one's left foot.


    <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-right:.5in;mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:
    auto;margin-left:.5in">A bransle single is a step to the left with the
    left foot, and then move the right foot to join the left. A bransle double
    is two singles in a row. Occasionally doubles are danced with embellishments:


    <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-right:.5in;mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:
    auto;margin-left:.5in">Coranto singles and doubles aren't understood very well,
    but they were definitely very athletic. Andrew Draskoy suggests this as a
    low-impact version:

    Single left: Leap forward onto
    left foot, then hop bringing your right foot together with your left.

    Double left: Leap forward onto
    left, forward onto right, forward onto left, in place bringing your right foot
    together with your left.

    If you're feeling athletic, you
    move twice as much: Add in a hop in place before each leap or hop above.


    <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-right:.5in;mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:
    auto;margin-left:.5in">The basic galliard step is the Cinque Passi,
    which takes 6 beats and is danced to the rhythm of the first phrase of ``My
    country 'tis of thee.'' Start with left foot slightly in front of the right:

    kick rightkick leftkick rightkick leftjump into the air, landing with the right foot slightly in front

    The last bit is called a cadence,
    and leaves you ready to start again but with the left first going first. You
    may stand still, move slowly around the room, or turn in place using this step.

    Black Almain

    Source: Cunningham; Pugliese & Casazza, Eliz. Handbook,
    Historical Dance v2n5.

    Setting: A line of couples.

    1- 8 4 doubles forward. 9-12 Face partner, drop hands, double back, double forward.13-16 Quarter-turn left, double forward, turn right around, double forward back to place.17-20 Face partner, Men set and turn in place.21-24 Women do the same.25-26 Take both hands, double left into partner's place,27-28 4 slip steps up hall.29-32 Double left back to own side, 4 slip steps down hall.33-36 Drop hands, double backwards, double forwards. 1-36 Repeat with the women turning in place first, followed by the men.

    I have not seen the manuscript for this, and my library claims they can't
    even get the Historical Dance article for inter-library loan (hmph). This dance
    appears in a somewhat different form in a c.1606 manuscript, but it's difficult
    to get the steps for that one to fit the music.

    Black Nag

    Source: Playford (1670)

    Setting: sets of 3 couples.

    A typical English Country dance, except that all the choruses are different.

    Verse: 1- 4 Double forward, double back. 5- 8 Repeat. Chorus: 9-10 Face partner. First couple slips up hall,11-12 followed by the second couple,13-14 and then third,15-16 all turn.17-24 Couples slip back to place in reverse order, all turn. Verse: 1- 8 Siding. Chorus: 9-10 First man and 3rd woman use slip steps to change places,11-12 first woman and 3rd man do the same,13-14 followed by 2nd man and 2nd woman,15-16 all turn.17-24 Do the slips in reverse order back to place, all turn. Verse: 1- 8 Arming. Chorus: 9-14 Men's hey,15-16 men turn.17-24 Women's hey, women turn.

    Bransle Charlotte

    Source: Arbeau (1589)

    Setting: Circle of couples

    A: Double left, kick left, kick right, double right. Repeat.B: Double left, kick left, kick right, single right, kick l,r,l, single left, kick right, l, r, double right.

    The B part may or may not repeat. Insert capriole as

    The way that I remember which way to kick is as follows: if it's 2 kicks,
    then you kick with your outside foot first. If it's 3 kicks, kick with your
    inside foot first. You have always just stepped on your inside foot, so kicking
    with the outside foot is more natural.

    Carolingian Pavane

    Source: steps by Baron Patri du Chat Gris in the early
    1970's; the music is ``Belle qui tiens ma vie'' (Arbeau, 1589).

    Setting: a line of couples.

    One set of steps is a single, single, double.

    1- 8 One set forward. 9-16 One set forward.17-24 One set backwards.25-32 One set forwards. 1-16 Men kneel. Women go around men in 2 sets of steps.17-32 Men rise. Men go around women in 2 sets of steps.

    It is helpful if the men turn to face their partner when
    kneeling. This keeps their hind leg out of the way. There is often a pause of
    approximately one measure between repetitions of the music.

    Earl of Salisbury Pavane

    Source: William Byrd? Rawlinson Manuscript?

    Setting: A line of couples.

    A1: single left, right, double left, branle out, branle in, double right backward (away from music)A2: single left, right, double left, face partner, branle up, branle down, double right backward (away from partner)B1: single left, right, double left (passing partner by the left) double right in place to face partner, double left away from partner (backwards).B2: single left, right, take hands, double left to turn to place, branle up, branle down, double right backwards (away from music).

    A friend helpfully pointed out that this dance consists of:
    single left, single right, double left, something taking 2 measures, double
    right backwards.

    Gathering Peascods

    Source: Playford (1651)

    Setting: a circle of couples.

    Verse: 8 slip steps to the left, turn single 8 slip steps to the right, turn single. Chorus: Men go in, take hands, skip left around and go out. Women do the same, returning to the appropraite partner. Men double forward and clap. Women double forward and clap while men go back to place. Men double forward and don't clap while women return. Men return to place. Repeat forward/back with Women going first. Verse: Side right, turn single, side left, turn single. Chorus: Women in first, then men. Verse: Arm right, turn single, arm left, turn single. Chorus: Men in first, then women.

    Bransle Hay

    Source: Arbeau (1589); Thomas & Gingell, Fideleco v2.

    Setting: A line of 3 (or perhaps 4 or 5) dancers.

    This dance uses Coranto singles and doubles, as explained below.

    This dance has a chase and a hay. You line up in lines of 3 (or more) and
    follow the leader around the room for the A and B part of the music (which may
    or may not repeat; the steps given here assume one repeat of each), and then
    you hay (using Coranto doubles) for the C part of the music, which is only 2
    measures long and repeats until the original leader gets back to the top.

    Thomas and Gingell claims the hay is done with hands. I see no sign of that
    in Arbeau. Arbeau does say that the dancers end up where they started, and that
    if there are more than 3 people in the hay, the people at the bottom should not
    move until they have a chance to change places with the dancer who started at
    the top. T&G suggest that the "odd person out" should turn in

    A: Single left, single right, double left Single right, single left, single right Single left, single right, double left Single right, single left, single right B: Single left, single right, double left Single right, single left, single right Single left, single right, double left Single right, single left, single right C: Hay, using doubles, for N people.

    Honeysuckle Almain

    Source: Music by Anthony Holborne (1598), steps by Master
    Robyyan Torr d'Elandris (Dennis Sherman), 1993.

    Setting: A line of couples.

    The music is in the form A A' B B'. The steps always appear in single,
    single, double sets, alternating feet.

    A: Single left, single right, double left. Single right, single left, double right, face partner. Single left sideways, single right sideways, double left circle to face forward.A': as A, with left and right reversed. B: Face partner, hold both hands, turn in a circle clockwise with a single left, single right, double left. Turn in the opposite direction with a single right, single left, double right, drop hands. Single left back, single right back, double left forward to face partner. Double right forward to change places with partner, passing right shoulder.B': exactly the same as B, not switching left and right.

    Hole in the Wall

    Source: Playford (1695 edition?); Dixon book 5, 9; Letter of
    Dance #3.

    Setting: A line of couples.

    A perennial favorite: hated by musicians, demanded by dancers, used to raise
    money at Pennsic. Danced by a line of couples, with actives and passives and
    all that.

    First couple casts off around twos, leads up back to place.Second couple casts up around ones, leads back down to place.First man and second woman change places.Second man and first woman change places.All hands halfway round.Ones cast down while twos lead up the center to trade places.

    The dance repeats with the twos moving up the line and the
    ones moving down. When you reach the end, wait out one cycle and then come in
    as the other couple. Some folks dance this dance with a lot of ornamentation,
    while others claim that it should be danced plainly.

    Horse's Bransle

    Source: Arbeau (1589); Thomas & Gingell; Letter of
    Dance, #13.

    Setting: A line of couples, facing each other & holding hands.

    Double up the hall, double down, 4 times.Men paw ground twice, step to right, turn overleft shoulder to move up hall.Women paw ground twice, step to right, turn overleft shoulder to move back to place.

    A mimed bransle. This dance is danced in the SCA with the
    men moving up the hall one position each repetition, changing partners. The man
    at the top of the hall must run to the bottom. Occasionally the musicians will insert
    an extra measure of music to make this easier. See the Letter of Dance article
    by Master Robyyan for more details of this heresy.

    Jenny Pluck Pears

    Source: Playford (1651)

    Setting: Circle of 3 couples.

    Verse: 8 slip steps to left. Set and turn single. 8 slip steps to right. Set and turn single. Chorus: Man #1 places lady #1 in center, facing him. Then man #2, man #3 do the same. Reverence. Men skip counter-clockwise around circle, outside women. Men hand out women in same order. Reverence. Verse: Side right, set and turn single, side left, set and turn single. Chorus: Women put men into center. Verse: Arm right, set and turn single, arm left, set and turn single. Chorus: Men put women into center.

    The Cour d'Or dance notes have "forward a double and
    back" for the first verse. I suppose this means you would meet your
    partner and return to place instead of going into the center of the circle.

    Madam Sosilia Almain

    Source: Primary?; Cunninhgam; Pugiese & Casazza;
    Elizabethan Handbook.

    Setting: Line of couples, holding hands.

    A: Set left & right, double forward, single back. Repeat. B: Face partner, drop hands, set left & right, reverance. Two singles & double forward, passing right shoulders to end up in partner's place facing partner. Repeat back to place. C: Reverance, two singles forward, embrace.

    Maltese Bransle

    Source: Phalese?, Arbeau (1589).

    Setting: Circle of couples.

    Double left, double rightDouble left, double rightLeft, right, left into center, with hands raised, clap 3 timesLeft, right, left out to place, clap 3 times

    The dance speeds up as time goes on. Sometimes 3 kicks
    instead of the second 3 claps. SCA folklore will tell you that this dance was done
    after the Crusades in imitation of what the Crusaders saw in the Middle East.

    A dance with the same name is given in Arbeau. It has different music, but
    somewhat similar steps.

    Bransle de Montarde

    Source: Arbeau (1589), Fideleco, d'Or.

    Setting: Line of 4 (or 6) dancers.

    Take 4 left doubles, playing follow the leader around the room. First person turns in place with 4 kicks.Second does likewise, and so on. Take 4 left doubles, while the first dancer weaves (in front of thewomen, behind the men) to the end of the line. Repeat kick/weave until each dancer has gotten to weave.

    Arbeau lists this as one of the miming bransles, with the
    appropriate step being "little springs" XXX. Note that the Arianna
    arrangement of the music assumes an even number of dancers.

    Official Bransle (Toss the Dutchess)

    Source: Arbeau (1589)

    Setting: Circle of couples

    Double left, double right, repeat 4 times. Eight singles left. During 7th single, lady steps in front of her partner. During 8th single, lady jumps, and lord moves lady to the left, everyone gaining a new partner.

    Sometimes there are two tosses per repetition; listen to the

    Often lords will be overly-enthusiastic about tossing; the object is not to
    toss ladies into the ceiling. This dance is often seen with swiveling hips
    during the singles to swirl skirts; I've heard it alleged that this is contra
    dancing and isn't known to be period.

    Arbeau says that this dance is to be danced with little springs with each

    Picking Up Sticks

    Source: Playford (1651)

    Setting: 3 couple set.

    Verse: Forward and back a double, and again. First man changes with second woman, passing right shoulders and going back to back.First man changes with third man.Forward and back a double.First woman changes with second man, and then third woman.Forward and back a double. Repeat changes with new first couple. Repeat changes with new first couple. Verse: Side left, side right. Couple 1 crosses and skips once around the entire set, while Couple 3 sashays up to 2nd position, while Couple 2 steps back and down to 3rd position. Couple 2 sashays back to place, while Couple 3 steps back and down to place. Repeat with Couple 3 going around the world and Couple 1sashaying down. Verse: Arming. Men sheepshead hey: first man leads men to begin winding around thewomen. The men will go down, up, down, and then finish, but the lastman always takes a shortcut around the second woman to become theleading man. After 3 repetitions the first man is again in front, andleads out the bottom and back to place.

    Rufty Tufty

    Source: Playford (1651)

    Setting: sets of 2 couples, facing each other.

    Verse: Double forward and back, twice. Chorus: set and turn single, twice take partner's hand, double out, turn around, double back, turn single. take opposite's hand, do the same. Verse: Siding. Chorus. Verse: Arming. Chorus.

    This dance is prone to many variations, perhaps because the
    instructions in Playford are about as sparse as the ones above. One variation
    I've seen is that the first verse involves going towards your partner and back.
    This is rare and perhaps very wrong. The other main variations have to do with
    the direction of the set and turn singles. One school has the first set start out,
    and the second start in. One school has the first set start left, and the
    second set start right. I believe that the second version is the one considered

    Sellenger's Round

    Source: Choreography in Playford (1670). Music used in the
    SCA by William Byrd (1600). In third Playford edition in simpler form. The
    music given in Playford is different?

    Setting: A circle of couples

    An English country dance with 4, or 5, verses.

    Verse: Circle left and back.Chorus: Two singles into center. Double back. Face partner.Set and turn single. Repeat.Verse: Beerhall run: Hold hands, walk into center with shout,walk back out. Repeat.Chorus.Verse: Siding.Chorus.Verse: Arming.Chorus.

    This dance sometimes ends with an additional first verse, or additional
    first verse and chorus.

    Trenchmore (The Hunting of the Fox)

    Source: Playford (1653), Millar, Elizabethan Handbook, which
    claims that the correct music is `Tomorrow the Fox Will Come to Town.'

    Setting: A line of couples.

    Up a double and back, two times. The first couple casts off and leaddown the outside, followed by everyone else, back to place. Arched hey: All take hands, the first couple faces down, and goesunder an arch made by the second couple, then over the third couple,and so forth all the way down and back, followed by all the othercouples. When each couple reaches the end they turn around. First couple turns by the right in the center, then by the left withthe twos, then by the right in the center, and so on down the entireline.

    The Elizabethan Handbook claims that this is the most mentioned country
    dance, and that the first mention is 1551. The steps given above correspond to
    how my local SCA group dances it. Playford repeats the first section 3 times
    instead of 2, the arched hey `twice or thrice,' and has the first couple set
    down the line and turn back up it.

      Current date/time is Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:51 am