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362Re: [OutlandsDance] Hi

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  • Keith McClune
    Oct 5, 2005
      Hi there:

      Catching up on some old email -

      Back on 8/30 lady_alanna5718 wrote:
      > Hi I'm Stephanie I'm in the Nahrun shire and I am interested in Irish
      > and English Medieval dance ^-^

      Lady Barbara\\\\\\ Jayne Barber gave you some contact information a while ago,
      but I thought I'd add a bit about English/Irish dance history. As L. ... Jayne
      said, we have no information about how the Irish may have danced - only
      speculation. The earliest known dance choreographies date from 1445, so
      medieval dances are unknown to us (there was plenty of dancing, we just don't
      know what or how they danced).

      The oldest known text describing English dance dates to about 1500. It was
      first cataloged only 20 years ago and wasn't studied until about 10 years ago.
      It is commonly called the Gresley ms. (because it comes from the Gresley
      collection), but is sometimes called the Derbyshire manuscript (because that's
      where it lives) or John Banys' Notebook - it is a notebook that was apparently
      owned by a John Banis (or Banys) sometime between ~ 1480 and ~ 1520. This
      unique source is ripe for study, but frustrating because it is personal notes,
      not a teaching treatise. He used non-standard notation is is often ambiguous or
      incomplete. Some of the dances seem to be related to Italian dances of the era,
      but they are clearly different. There are eight dances with matching
      choreography and music (plus others that do not seem to be missing music or
      steps). These seem to be relatively simple dances, and I have seen some
      reconstructions. Unfortunately, there are no commercial recordings of the
      music, so I don't get to practice on my own. One of these days, I'll have sheet
      music for our musicians ....

      Another old source is the Copeland ms. This is a translation of a French book
      of bassa dances, and also dates from around 1500. This doesn't include any
      native English dances, but it does show that continental dances were also done
      in England. Bassa dances, in fact, seem to have been popular all across Europe
      in the 15th century (for more than 100 years, in fact, but sources for specific
      dates/places are spotty). Bassa music is not hard to find, and I have choreo-
      graphies for close to 300 bassa dances. They are elegant, stately dances.

      Later on, we have the Old Measures, so called because we have multiple sets of
      student notes spanning the years 1570 to 1670 that all describe the the same
      set of eight dances, calling them "the old measures." Dancing these seems to
      have been a requirement for lawyers and students at the Inns of Court, as fines
      for missing the dance are recorded. The Old Measures, plus additional dances
      in one or another manuscript, can also be called the Inns of Court dances,
      since they were performed there, and all but one of the mss. belonged to law
      students at the Inns of Court (where all London barristers are required to keep
      offices). Some of the misc. dances found among the mss. are clearly
      continental, such as the "sink-a-pace" (cinq-pas, or galliard).

      Recent scholarship has found relationships between some of the English Country
      dances and old Italian court dances. As L. Jayne has already addressed
      Playford, I'll leave it here.

      Which leads to another group of dances that may be appropriate for Renaissance
      English (and by conjecture, Irish) dance recreation: European dances from
      other sources. Arbeau (1589 France) is plagiarized in a 1620's manual
      dedicated to the Duke of Buckingham. Italian dances are referenced and
      sometimes described across Europe, so these can work, too.

      So while we don't know details about "Irish and English Medieval dance," we do
      at least have resources for the end of the medieval period in England and for
      the Renaissance.

      If you have any questions, I'm always glad to share what I've learned.

      I hope this helps.

      Keith / Guillaume S:}>
      Caerthen master of dance
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