is a wealth of information available online. Sites
change addresses frequently, but you may find Renaissance
Dance Links and Early
Dance Texts on this site useful. A search of
"Renaissance," "Dance," and/or "Shakespeare" will
uncover many primary and secondary resources including
all the works of Shakespeare and most of the original,
dance manual texts on other sites. The Society
for Creative Anachronism (SCA), Renaissance faires,
early music organizations, and even Wikipedia entries
may have links to useful sites. I have created
a booklist on Amazon.com on how to "Dance
Shakespeare". The main caveat is to be
wary of misleading or incorrect information as
there is no guarantee of authenticity or validity
for information found on a website.
Encyclopedia of Dance: A project of Dance Perspectives
Excellent general resource if you can find it.
Recommended books and articles for further study
follow each entry which are on every dance subject
imaginable and written by the experts in every
field. Relevant entries include: Galliard, Branle,
Morris, Shakespeare, Great Britain. Expensive,
but worth it!
function in Shakespeare plays:
Alan. Shakespeare and the Dance. London:
The MacMillan Press, 1981, 2001.
text for studying dance references in the plays.
Extensive analysis both of how dance functions
as a plot device and how Shakespeare uses dance
references within the text. While Brissenden gives
no choreographies -- just the names of suggested
dances for fifteen of the plays, he does provide
a concise history of Renaissance court dance and
explains how dance was viewed by the Elizabethans.
Consult this text for specific dance references
and for general themes in the different genres
of tragedy, comedy, etc. Brissenden also includes
a short, but well-chosen glossary of common dance
terms and a substantial bibliography.
Renaissance dance manuals and step reconstructions:
editions of Renaissance dance manuals:
Ian. The Almain in Britain, c.1549-c.1675:
A Dance Manual from Manuscript Sources. New
York: Ashgate Publishing, Inc., 1995.
A scholarly edition of the collection of manuscript
choreographies from c.1565-c.1675 associated with
the Inns of Court, the nine dances sometimes referred
to as the measures or old measures. Payne offers
danceable and playable reconstructions for each
dance, which is helpful for the would-be choreographer,
as there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding
exact steps, dance and music matching, etc. Although
the book's extensive commentaries on steps, style,
and music can seem overwhelming, the dances themselves
are quite simple and can be learned easily by non-dancers.
Thoinot. Orchesography. Langres, 1589.
Translated by Mary Stewart Evans; Introduction
and Notes by Julia Sutton. New York: Dover Publications,
The essential text for any beginning Renaissance
dance reconstructor. The dances--mostly branles
and galliard combinations--are simple and straightforward
as are their explanations although the step names
are left in their original French. There are some
original illustrations of the steps as well as
Labanotation, and Julia Suttonís editiorial comments
though detailed, are easily understood. Arbeau
gives the melody line for all the dances although
arrangements from other sources are recommended
for performance. Arbeauís highly amusing but still
relevant defense of dancing makes great reading,
and there is also a lengthy section on dance and
Fabritio. Courtly Dance of the Renaissance:
A New Translation and Edition of the "Nobilitŗ
di dame" (1600). Translated and edited by Julia
Sutton. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1995.
fairly elaborate and elegant dances with modern
transcriptions of the lute tabulatures. (In other
words, the music can be played on the piano right
out of the book.) The dances, however, can be difficult
to reconstruct from the book--despite Suttonís
extensive commentary and the Labanotation--if one
does not already know the basic steps, and even
then, it often unclear what steps occur on what
counts of the music. However, the "Notes on Conduct,"
offering useful and entertaining advice for actors
and dancers on how to sit, bow, and otherwise behave
at balls and other social gatherings, requires
no prior knowledge.
Dances & Recordings:
dance booklets and CDs. (purchase)
are a variety of relevant booklets that offer intrepretations
of Renaissance dances from the fifteenth through
seventeenth centuries. Booklets give clear, if
sometimes contested, instructions for each dance,
include at least the melody line for each dance,
and have introductions and bibliographies for context
and future study. Recordings of the music for each
piece are available on CD. The recordings use the
correct tempos and number of repititions for dancing,
but are not usually full arrangements, so they
may be better suited for practice than for providing
music for a performance.
& Dances from Shakespeare. The Broadside
Band. Director Jeremy Barlow. Wotton-Under-Edge,
England: Saydisc Records, 1995.
compact disc features songs and dances referred
to or most likely used in the original productions
and dances of the period as well as songs from
early revivals of the plays. Lyrics for all songs
are included as well as suggestions for which music
should be used in which plays and helpful background
material. In addition, Jeremy Barlow was the accompanist
(or rather, harpsichordist) at the Dolmetsch Historical
Dance Society Summer School I attended in England
in August of 1998 and personally recommended music
and instruments for my production, The
Bardís Galliard... or how to party like an Elizabethan.
The Broadside Band also has recordings of Renaissance
court dance music.
Dorothťe. Celeste Giglio: Flowers of 16th
Century Dance. Amsterdam: Tactus Music, 1996.
is a secondary source, a modern dance manual with
a detailed glossary of steps, sheet music arranged
for three or four part ensembles, and an accompanying
compact disc. The dances are primarily complicated
Italian choreographies from Fabritio Caroso and
Cesare Negriís dance manuals with a few additions
from Thoinot Arbeau and other dance masters. While
one should always consult the original text, this
manual offers workable interpretations of ambiguous
passages and clearly specifies what steps should
be done during what bar of music. Some adjustments
may be necessary in performance on the stage, however,
as most of the dances are long, physically arduous,
and frequently have a dancerís back to the audience.
Ballarino: The Art of Renaissance Dance.
Dir. Julia Sutton. 2009.
Excellent introduction to Renaissance dance choreography
and steps. Features three dances.
to Dance through time: Vol. III. - The Majesty
of Renaissance Dance.
Dir. Carol Teton. 2000.
Less academically rigorous, but attractively
scores and commentary:
Ross W. Shakespeare's Songbook. New
York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004.
An extensive and well-researched collection
of 160 songs included in or simply mentioned
in Shakespeare plays, from ballads to ayres to
dances to drinking songs. Entries include lyrics,
musical notation, and editorial comments. With
a foreward by Stephen Orgel and an accompanying
CD with performances of many of the songs.
Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. London, 1899.
Edited by J. A. Fuller Mailand and W. Barclay Squire.
New York: Dover Publications, 1963.
volumes, also known as Queen Elizabethís Virginal
Book. Contains instrumental music contemporary
with Shakespeare including William Byrdís "O Mistris
myne" sung in Twelfth Night. Unfortunately,
there are few notes on the pieces, and half of
them are in German. (Electronic
Hundred Songs & Dances From the Stuart Masque.
Ed. Andrew Sabol. Hanover and London: Brown
University Press, 1982. (out of print, check
amongst scores in a music library)
arrangements in the chapter "Dances for the Measures
and Revels" are excellent for dances and processions
in Shakespeare plays, just avoid those with too
late a date. Several of the notes on the pieces
refer to dancing, and Appendix C is John Ramsayís
"Practise for Danucinge," a description of 24 English
dances from the Inns of Court.
Edward W. Shakespeare and Music. London:
J.M. Dent & Co., 1896. (out of print, check
Shakespeare section of library)
chapter on dancing founded on Arbeauís Orchesography
and references to dancing by Thomas Morley and
other Shakespeare contemporaries. Detailed explanation
of dance and music vocabulary in the plays and
more hints at choreography than Brissendenís analysis.
While one of two of Naylorís acknowledged suppositions
are no longer believed true, this is still an extremely
useful text. Naylor offers unusually clear explanations
of rhythm as well as information regarding processions
and entrances and exits not found in other texts.
David. Shakespeare And Music (Arden
Critical Companions). Arden Shakespeare, 2005.
I haven't gotten a chance to read this myself,
but Lindley is a well-known scholar who has written
on music in the court masque among other related
topics, so it should be good.
** Special Collections **
There are several wonderful videos, tapes, and
documents in the New
York Public Library for the Performing Artsís
Dance Collection at Lincoln
Center in New York City. Access to the collection
is restricted by geography and videos can only
be seen by appointment, But if you can arrange
it, however, every effort should be made to visit
Dance Collection as it probably has the best
public (or somewhat public) collection of Renaissance
dance videos available anywhere.
Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC
also has an extensive collection of primary and
secondary dance works including original copies
of Fabritio Caroso and Cesare Negri's dance manuals,
as well as a phenomenal collection of all things
Shakespearean. Access to the library is restricted
to serious researchers -- see the Registrar
for more details.