Italy, around 1600
Meaning primarily dances described by Caroso in Il Ballarino (1580) and Nobilta di Dame (1600) and by Negri in Le Gratie d'Amore (1602) (also released in 1604 as Nuovi inventioni di Balli), but also including material from lesser Italian authors, be they as early as Compasso (1558) or as late as Santucci (c.1615).
You can find complete facsimiles, transcriptions into nice, plain, easy-to-download text, and, if you're lucky, English translations, of most of these books from the SCA renaissance dance homepage.
Instructions for steps: - coming soon
Some translations, some 'reconstructions', from various sources.
Rx riverenza, mRx meza riverenza
B seguito battuto al canario
P passo :P: passo puntato
S seguiti ordinario
SP seguiti spezzato
Tg trango, or passo trangato
for two, from Caroso's Il Ballarino (1580)
One man begins, in the centre of the room, holding a flower. Variations (not from Caroso): several people can begin, each holding a flower, if there are many dancers (one flower for every 4-8 dancers works well); candles or torches can be used in place of flowers. Caroso wrote several versions of this dance, for various numbers of people; this is the simplest.
Opening: Man with flower only, performed only once
Rx, 2 S, turning in place over left shoulder.
Repeated section: sequence of steps is always "4 S, 2C, Rx"; only floor-pattern changes
1. Man approaches woman with 4S
He invites her to dance with CC Rx, moving flower to left hand, and taking her hand with his right
2. They move onto floor with 4S (Caroso actually calls for 2S and 2 scorsi here)
End facing, CC Rx
3. 2S turning in place over left shoulder
2 S passing partner, end facing, a few metres apart, CC Rx
4. 4S in zig-zag pattern towards partner, end facing. close together. CC Rx
During the last Riverenza the man pretends to kiss the flower, then hands it to the woman. He then leaves the floor, she repeats the dance from 1, finding a new man to dance with, and handing the flower to him at 4. He finds a new partner, in turn, and so on until all who desire to dance have done so.
Some begin the dance on the right foot. There is an instruction in the first paragraph that implies this; I believe it is a typo, that Caroso would have included a clarifying comment had he intended something so unusual. The later instruction to turn to the left supports this, as do the other versions, and the related "Branle de la Torche" (Arbeau, 1589), all of which start on the left.
The instructions for part three: "Four seguiti, two turning to the left, and two forwards, ne going to each end of the room" are variously interpreted. As long as you end up facing your partner, and a little apart, it doesn't matter much if you and your partner dance this differently.
First Verse: Opening honours - jostling for position.
To begin, the man stands at the right hand of the woman, and takes her right hand in his left (i.e. he stands on the wrong side).
1-4 Riverenza grave
5-8 2 Continenze, LR
9-12 2 Seguiti ordinarii, the man takes the woman’s left hand guides the woman in a crescent, he going backwards, she forwards, until they have swapped places
13-16 Riverenza grave facing, he taking her right hand.
Second, Third and Fourth verses: Walk up and down.
1-2 2 Puntate grave
5-8 4 Passi
9-10 Seguito ordinario, if you need space, do a conversion here (Santucci’s suggestion)
11-12 2 Riprese right
13-16 2 Continenze, LR
The third verse repeats the second. In the fourth, replace the continenze with a riverenza.
Fifth verse: Face your partner and change places.
(same steps as the previous verse, just a different floor-pattern)
1-4 2 Puntate, take right hands and change places
5-8 4 Passi, turn to left, separating somewhat.
9-10 Seguito ordinario, walking to left
11-12 2 Riprese right,
13-16 Riverenza, facing
Sixth and Seventh Verse: Solos! First the man, then the woman.
1-4 4 Passi flankingly forward, tucking your cape, if you have one, under your arm.
5-8 Passo to left, Riverenza, passo to right, riverenza.
9-12 4 Passi trangati flankingly backwards
13-16 Both Riverenza.
That’s it for the main part of the dance – now you have 8 bars to chat before the sciolta grave.
All the sciolte are done in the same basic position as the soli: facing your partner, a little apart, with plenty of room to show off.
Sciolta Grave, played twice: the fastest of the sciolte, as far as your feet are concerned.
1-4 2 Doppii grave, one to the left, one to the right.
5-8 2 Puntate grave flankingly backwards
9-10 2 Seguiti scorsi, towards partner, end by briefly taking hands in a meza riverenza. [Caroso says “scurryingly, two seguiti”]
11-14 4 Passi trangati flankingly backwards
15-16 2 Seguiti ordinarii turning in place, to the left
The second time is the same as the first, but that you do a Riverenza in place of the final two Seguiti.
Now another break.
Saltarello: The Tournament! Slaps!
1-4 4 Spezzati flankingly forwards, to meet your partner
5 Blow 1. The woman kisses a hand (presumably her own) then strikes the man’s hand.
6 Blow 2. The man kisses a hand (presumably his own) then strikes the woman’s hand.
7 Blow 3. They both do a trabuchetto to the left, striking right hands.
8 Blow 4. They both do a trabuchetto to the right, striking left hands.
1-12 2 Continenze LR
13-16 Riverenza, taking right hands
This is your last chat-break.
Galliard: in music only - there is no jumping.
1-4 4 Seguiti ordinarii flankingly backwards
5-8 4 Seguiti ordinarii, making the turn in the Contrapasso, that is, two turning in a circle to the left, then two turning to the right.
9-10 4 Passi forwards, to meet your partner
11-12 Riverenza, taking ordinary hands
We have a brief description of La Caccia in a letter from 1559, and a more detailed version, with music, by Negri in Le Gratie d'Amore (1602). Negri's description shows that it was a very popular dance, and that various dance masters taught their own versions. This is Negri's dance, with a few additions (given below in italics). If you wish you could dance the Chase game, or the Wheel game, alone (good for kids).
PDF handout for a class on La Caccia (given at St. Catherine's Fair in Auckland in 2006)
Negri allows as many couples as will to dance this, the letter of 1559 only three couples. I suggest three to six couples.
Three or more couples begin in a column, holding ordinary hands. If there are more than six couples I suggest forming two sets.
First part - Meeting your partner
Riverenza, 2 Continenze, 4 Seguiti forwards, release hands.
2 Seguiti turning left, end facing,
Each man takes his partner's right arm:
2 Seguiti changing places, release arms; 2 Seguiti turning in place to the left
8 Spezzati, casting. End in place, facing partner.
Riverenza, 2 Continenze
Each woman takes her partner's right arm:
2 Seguiti changing places, release arms; 2 Seguiti turning in place to the left
2 Riprese, 2 Seguiti turning left
Second part - Meeting everyone else
Riverenza, 2 Riprese
Men hey with 8 Spezzati, taking right hands, then left
First man takes first woman by right hand, they alone do:
2 Seguiti circling right; release hands; 2 Seguiti circling left, returning to place.
First man repeats, with second woman, then third; while the second man turns the first woman, then the second, and so on down the line, until everyone is acquainted.
Women do what men just did, from the hey.
Third part - the Chase Game
First couple only: The man takes his partner's hand, and facing they do
2 Riprese, 2 Continenze, and release hands.
They cast out, to the bottom of the set. No steps are specified - I use seguiti ordinarii.
At the end of the column, the man tries to take the woman's hand, but she scurries back to the top of the column, and he follows. He chases her, 'until it pleases her to allow herself to be caught'. Negri allows them to run wherever they like. The letter says they they may run up and down the middle of the set, or outside is, but may not pass through the line of women, or through the line of men. Eventually the woman allows the man to take her hand, and they walk together down the middle of the set (or up and then back down if they are already at the bottom of the set when he catches her), where they take their new place at the bottom of the column.
From the letter (but not Negri): the man and woman change places, so that she ends up at the end of the man's column, and he at the end of the women's.
Now, the second couple do everything the first couple have done, starting with the Riverenza; then the third couple, and so on until all have danced.
From the letter: The first couple dances again, but this time the woman chases the man. The other couples follow, as above, until all the women have chased their partners. Now all the couples should be 'proper' once more.
Fourth Part - the Wheel Game
Riverenza, 2 Riprese
Seguito, holding right hands, changing places; Seguito, not holding hand, turning left, to return to place
2 Seguiti turning left (in place); 4 Seguiti casting
4 Seguiti forwards; the first man leads the column round to the right to form a circle with the women in the middle
Continue to do Seguiti forwards. When the first man calls "one forwards" (or two backwards, or similar) the men all run to take the hand of the next woman ahead (or whatever is appropriate). An extra man can join in, and try to steal a woman, so that the men play 'musical partners'.
Modern variation, for gender-equality:
When the first man or woman calls 'switch' everyone takes their partner's right hand, and swaps places with a Seguito ordinario. The women now play musical partners.
The last couple can drop off the end of the line as the large circle forms - they will try to steal partners in turn, as the men and woman are in the outer circle.
Continue as long as everyone is having fun.
Once everyone is familiar with the game you can call in Italian:
one, two - uno, due; forwards, backwards - innanzi, indietro; exchange - cambio
Fifth part - the galliard
When everyone has danced the wheel game long enough, the musicians play a galliard and each couple in turn dances Il Piantone. I'll cover this some other time.
If you can't find Negri's tune, use another piece of 16th C dance music in moderate duple time (such as Ballo del Fiore, a Passamezzo, or a Double Branle). Beware of other pieces called "La Caccia" - it's is common name, and most of the pieces aren't even dance music.
Musicians should play until the first couple ask them to stop (and, if possible, should be prepared to play Il Piantone, or another galliard, immediately afterwards). If you use canned music, try to find a recording that lasts 5-10 minutes, and repeat the track if necessary.
has it's own page
A couple start facing each other, not holding hands.
First verse: Rx minima, 4 SP in a wheel, 2 SP turning to left
Chorus: :P: flankingly forwards, :P: backwards, 4T facing
SP to left, Rx minima right; repeat on right
RR TT to left, SP turning left, Cad; repeat on right
Second Verse: take right hands, 2 SP changing places, release hands, 2 SP turning left; repeat on left. Chorus
Third verse: 2 P Cad, to left, in wheel; RR TT to right; repeat on right. Chorus.
Final Riverenza is outside the music.
A couple start facing each other, not holding hands.
First verse: Rx minima, 8 SP in a wheel (turning clockwise), Sx left with Cadenza a pie pari,
Chorus: 4T (starting L), 2 Tg flankingly backwards
RRTT to left, SP turning over left shoulder, Cad
RRTT to right, SP turning over right shoulder, Cad
Second verse: man's solo
2 SP flankingly forwards, 2 P forwards, 2 T, SP turning over left shoulder, Cad. Repeat starting with right foot.
Both do chorus
Third verse: woman's solo. Woman does same solo man did in verse 2. Both do chorus.
Take right hands. Change places (more or less), using: 2 P, 2 T, RRTT, then SP turning over left shoulder, Cad.
Take left hands. Return to place using steps above, starting on right.
Chorus. Do a final Riverenza after the music has finished (or as it is finishing).
The structure of this dance is rather like that of a cascarda. A couple stand facing each other, about 1m apart, not holding hands.
First verse: Rx minima, 3 S in a wheel (turning clockwise)
Chorus: 3T, rlr, 2Tg forwards (or back - there's some debate about this); SP turning over left shoulder,Cad
Second verse: 5S in a wheel; chorus
Third verse: Man alone: doppio forwards, 2P rl backwards, 2T rl, 2R rr; both do chorus
Fourth erse: Woman's solo - woman does as man did in third verse
Fifth verse: 2P, S in a wheel (clockwise); repeat to other side
doppio forwards, 2P rl backwards, 2T rl, 2R rr; chorus
final riverenza outside music
This dance is also described in the Chigi MS. The "Contentezza d'Amore" in Caroso's later book, Nobiltà di Dame is not the same dance, though it is related, and uses the same music. There's music, on this page of Del's Dance book (scroll down to the 16thC Italian section).
A Couple start facing one another, holding both hands. Here's the picture given with the instructions in Il Ballarino.
Rx, CC, 4R (all to the left, circling your partner), 4R (all to the right, circling your partner); CC, man drops woman's right hand (so they are left holding ordinary hands) Rx
woman alone leaves man with: :P::P: PP S, :P::P: PP S, turning to face him in the last seguito; both do 2 :P: one forwards and one back, Rx
man alone catches up with :P::P: PP S, :P::P: PP S, and takes her ordinary hand; both do 2 :P: one forwards and one back, Rx
woman alone walks in front of man in a crescent with PPS PPS; man alone similarly PPS PPS; take ordinary hands, both do 2 :P: one forwards and one back, Rx
take right hands, change places with :P::P:, drop hands, walk to other end of room with 6S, take both hands, do 2 :P: one forwards and one back, Rx
- sciolta: the music will change to a faster triple-time -
Take left hands, change places with 2 SP, drop hands, go to other end of room in 6 SP, take both hands, 8R all to left, 8R all to right, 4T, man drops woman's right hand (so they are left holding ordinary hands) Rx
a couple, facing, not holding hands
First verse: SP to left, Rx minima right; repeat to right
2 SP in a wheel; 4T facing; 4 SP in a wheel, 2Sx, left and right
Chorus: 2 puntate in balzetti backwards. Turn over left shoulder with SP, Cad.
Second verse: Man's solo
2 SP flankingly forwards; SP to left, Rx right; repeat starting with right
RRTT flankingly backwards, 2P forwards, Cad; repeat to right. Both do chorus.
Third verse: woman' solo. Woman does as man did in verse 2. Both do chorus.
Fourth verse: 2 SP, seguito semidoppio (PP SP), in a wheel to the left; repeat to right
RRTT flankingly backwards, SP forwards, Rx touching right hands; repeat to right side, touching left hands
Both do chorus.
This cascarda is unusual for several reasons: it can be done by two or four dancers; and although the music begins in fast compound duple (as is usual in cascarde), it changes to simple duple part way through the verse. The dance seems to be a blend of a 'normal' Caroso cascarda and the sort of simple-duple dance for two couples described by Negri (e.g. Spagnoletto, Bizzaria d'Amore, etc.). The notes below are for one couple; there is an alternate second and third verse at the end, for dancing with two couples. Note that when danced by one couple the man takes the woman's left hand first (which is very unusual); in the version for two couples, they take right hands first in normal way.
For one couple, facing, not holding hands: Reconstruction by Alex Rossiter and Katherine Davies
(triple) mRx, 4T;
SP to left, mRx right; repeat to right
(duple) 4 SP in a wheel; 2 Sx, left and right
Chorus (duple): RR TT to left, SP turning over left shoulder, Cad; repeat to right
Second verse: Man's solo
(triple) Man alone - 2 P, Cad towards woman; 4 T
SP to left, mRx right; repeat to right
(duple) Man takes woman's left hand. They both dance:
2 SP, changing places; drop hands, 2 P, Cad, turning in place
Repeat to other side, taking right hands, returning to place.
Both do chorus.
Third verse: Woman's solo
The woman does as the man did in the second verse. They again exchange places, taking the left hand first; and both do the chorus.
Fourth verse: together
(triple) 4 T facing; Seguito semidoppio (PP SP) to left; repeat to right
(duple) SP to left, mRx right; repeat to right
4 P flankingly backwards ("as in Barriera"; slower than the earlier passi, each takes the time of a Spezzato)
Chorus. Final Riverenza outside the music.
For two couples, in a square, facing inward
Soli: Caroso describes one man dancing toward his partner. If there are two couples it's not clear whether the men should dance the two passi directly forwards, and direct their meza riverenze to each of the women in turn, or whether each should dance towards his own partner. I prefer the first option.
Intrecciata / hey / exchange of places:
This is the only place where Caroso mentions the possibility of a second couple.
Literally, he says:
"Note that if the cascarda is done by four, the intrecciata (interweaving, hey) should be done this way: the men take their own ladies, who are to their right, by the right hands, and they do two seguiti spezzati; and releasing that hand, they do two passi presti turning to the left, and a cadenza facing, exchanging places; then, taking the left hand of the lady, they will do the same, each returning to his own place. If this dance is done by two, he does the same thing, taking the left hand first and the the right. Once the intrecciata is done, they do . . . [chorus]"
Clearly each man first takes the hand of his own lady; whose does he take the second time?
If each man takes his own partner's hand on both occasions, he will 'return to his own place', as Caroso says, but there is no interaction between the couples, no hey / intrecciata. If, instead, he takes the other lady's hand for the second exchange of places, the couples interact, there is an increcciata, but he will end up on the other side of the square (each dancer will return to his own place during the third verse). This is very like the hey passages in Negri's dances for two couples.
Either option seems reasonable; I prefer the second, giving more weight to the repeated use of the term 'intrecciata', than the single use of the phrase 'tornando ogn'uno al suo luogo'.
So, for two couples:
First verse: as for one couple.
Second verse: Men's solo, first intrecciata
(triple) Men alone - 2 P, Cad into square, facing each other; 4 T
SP to left, mRx right; repeat to right, honouring each woman in turn
(duple) Each man takes his partner's right hand. They dance:
2 SP, changing places; drop hands 2 P, Cad, turning in place
Repeat, with each man taking the other woman's left hand, and exchanging places with her.
All do chorus.
Third verse: Women's solo, second intrecciata
The women do as the men did in the second verse. They again exchange places, taking their partner's right hand first, then the other man's left hand. All do the chorus.
Fourth verse: as for one couple.
A couple begin facing, not holding hands. Note that this doesn't have the same "chorus" at the end of each repetition of the music (though it has recurring elements, and a clear structure).
Rx minima, 2SP in a wheel, 2 Sx,
2:P: one forwards and one backwards
2 SP flankingly backwards, PP forwards, Cad
4 SP in a wheel, 4T facing, SP turning over left shoulder, Cad
2 SP flankingly backwards
RRTT flankingly forwards, SP turning over left shoulder, Cad
Man's solo: 2 Fioretti a pie pari, 2P backwards, SP to left, Rx minima right; repeat to right
Both: 2:P: one forwards and one backwards
RRTT to left; SP turning over left shoulder, Cad
Woman's solo: same as man's, or replace the fioretti with 4T. Both: as in verse 3.
2 SP, Seguito Semidoppio (PP SP) in a wheel to the left; repeat to right
T left, touch right hands; T right, touch left hands
2 SP flankingly backwards, PP forwards, Cad. Final Riverenza after the music ends.
First verse: Rx; 2 SP circling your partner; 2 SP turning out to left; 4T facing; SP to left, mRx; SP to right and mRx.
Chorus: 2 SP flankingly backwards, RRRT (returning to partner); repeat on other side
Second verse: 4 SP circling your partner; 4T; 2 SP turning out to the left; 2 Sx; Chorus
Third verse: Man alone does 2 SP flankingly toward partner; 4 T; 2 SP turning back into place; 4 T; P to left, mRx; P to right, mRx; both do chorus
Fourth verse: same as third, but woman does solo
Fifth verse: S to left, mRx; RRTT back to place; S to right, RRTT back to place; P, touch right hands; P touch left hands; chorus.
final riverenza is outside the music
A couple start facing one another, not holding hands
First verse (facing, no hands): Rx CC
"Chorus" (facing, no hands): 4R right, 4R left;
2 Tg flankingly backwards, S forwards, repeat on other side; take ordinary hands and face forwards
Second verse: 4 S, during last seguito man places woman opposite him
chorus, still holding ordinary hands (but drop them for the Tg)
Third Verse: 2 S forwards, mRx, S changing places, S turning left, end facing
chorus, no hands, end by taking improper hands
Fourth verse: 4 S forwards, during last seguito woman places man opposite her
chorus, still holding improper hands, end by dropping hands
Sciolta (no hands): Rx, 4 SP turning left, going to opposite ends of room; 2 SP flankingly forwards
2R 3T flankingly forwards, left side in; repeat on other side
2 Tg flankingly backwards, S forwards, repeat on other side
Rx outside the music.
A couple face each other, standing a few metres apart.
First verse: Rx minima, 4 SP in a wheel, 2 P forwards, Cad with even feet
Chorus, first part: RR TT to left, SP turning left, Cad right; repeat to right
Chorus, second part: 2 Tg flankingly backwards, 2 P forwards, Cad; repeat to right.
Second verse: 6 SP in a wheel, 2 P forwards, Cad with even feet; Chorus
Third verse: Man alone 2 SP turning left, 2P forwards, Cad; repeat to right.
[note - I think this describes a figure 8; like the turn in the Contrapasso, but with more elaborate steps]
Man alone does first part of chorus; both do second part.
Fourth Verse: Woman alone does as man did in third verse.
Fifth verse: 2 P, Cad to left; 4T facing; repeat to right; chorus.
The final Riverenza is outside the music.
Caroso's description calls for the dancers to start at opposite ends of the room. It is clear from other dances that 'opposite ends of the room' need not put them more than a few steps apart - either Caroso expected a small dancing area, or he refers merely to the couple's orientation, without requiring them to move as far apart as possible. I find it very effective to have the dancers start a few metres apart, and to move a little closer in each verse (as each verse has an 'extra' two passi forwards that are not balanced by backwards steps).
Some reconstructors feel that the usual interpretation of 'in ruota' (in a wheel) - to circle each other, as if around an imaginary point on the floor, mid-way between the dancers - cannot apply when they are so far apart, and so have them circle in place instead, turning over their own left shoulders. However, Caroso's language seems specifically designed to distinguish turning in one's own circle, and circling one's partner. I think it unlikely that such a common phrase as 'in ruota' has vastly different meanings in otherwise similar dances, when one meaning can be made to serve throughout. (NB, I feel similarly about Chiara Stella - whatever 'in ruota' means here, it means always).
Three people in a circle, not holding hands. The following instructions assume there are two women and one man. If there are two men, reverse the instructions for men and women throughout. If all dancers are of same gender, choose one to be leader.
Rx minima, 4T
2 SP in a wheel (clockwise), 2 SP, each turning in place, over own left shoulder
Chorus, part one:
turn left shoulder slightly out : RRTT; returning to triangle: SP, Rx minima; repeat to right side
Chorus, part two:
2 SP flankingly backwards, 4 B returning to place; repeat to right side
4 SP in wheel, 2 SP turning in place, 4 T; chorus.
hay with 6 SP ( man begins hay, passing between women then turning to left), 2 P, Cad; chorus
As third, but woman who stands to man's right begins hay. Chorus.
As third, but woman who stands to man's left begins hay. Chorus.
2 Fioretti a piedi pari, left and right, 2 T, left and right
2 P, SP to left
Repeat verse to right. Chorus.
The final Riverenza is made after the music finishes.