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Medieval & Renaissance Dances

This is a collection of cheat-sheets designed to accompany the dance music collection published by Lady Phaedria d'Aurillac. It also includes descriptions of the dance steps, a and a short list of references. 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 the SCA which aren't actually from before 1600 are also given, along with the damning evidence of their origin -- this collection will hopefully be complete, with the good, the bad, and the ugly. 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.

(Thanks to Gretchen Miller and Dani of the Sevel Wells who wrote the "Draft Dance Notes" for the College of Cour d'Or)

The Dance Steps

Sources (a tiny bibliography)
Other Electronic Resources

Getting the music

For a copy of the music, contact:

Kristina Eloisa Pereyra (Lady Phaedria d'Aurillac)
706A Liberty Street
El Cerrito, CA 94530

Email kristina@uclink.berkeley.edu
(especially if you know a dance she's missing!)

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

Description of Dance Steps

In general, one always starts on one's left foot.


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: step-together-step-kick.


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.


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 right
kick left
kick right
kick left
jump 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.

A great site on Renaissance Dance provides more information.

A short list of sources

Primary Sources

Arbeau, Thoinot. Orchesography (1589 and 1596). In French. Available in a variety of facsimile editions.

Caroso, Marco Fabritio. Il Ballarino (1581). In Italian.

Caroso, Marco Fabritio. Nobilta Di Dame (1600). In Italian. A refinement of Il Ballarino.

Ebreo. 1470 and later. A variety of translations and manuscripts available, including an on-line version of Ebreo's bassa danza instructions, and his ballo instructions.


Negri, Cesare. Le Gratie D'amore (1602 and 1604). In Italian.

Secondary Sources

Thomas, Bernard and Gingell, Jane. The Renaissance Dance Book: Dances from the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries. London: London Pro Musica 1987.

Waks, Mark (ed.) The Letter of Dance. Available from the Editor at: Mark Waks, 82 Montclair Ave., Waltham MA 02154 USA, justin@inmet.camb.inmet.com.

The Elizabethan Handbook.

A comprehensive annotated bibliography exists, and there is an archive of all the messages on the Renaissance Dance mailing list. If you would like to join this mailing list, send email to listserver@morgan.ucs.mun.ca with the following line in the body of the message:

subscribe rendance Greg Lindahl

substituting your own name.

Renaissance Dance Videos

Il Balarino: The Art of Renaissance Dance, 1990, directed by Julia Sutton and Johannes Holub, narrarated by Julia Sutton. Dance Horizons Video, Princeton Book Company, PO Box 57, Pennington, NJ 08534. Videocassette (VHS), 33min. ISBN 0-87127-170-2, $39.95. Only Italian dances.

Le Gratie d'amore, European Court Dance of the Late Renaissance, Filmocentro; Taller de Danzas Antiguas, y Charles Garth y Elizabeth Aldrich. New York: Historical Dance Foundation, 1992 (spanish with english subtitles). HDF's phone steps.html# is (212) 255-5545. Includes pavannes, bransles, galliards, and ballos.

Electronic Resources

A comprehensive annotated bibliography
The Letter of Dance Online Archive --- might change, as it's still under construction
The Rendance mailing list archive



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