[SCA-Dance] Haut Barrois branle

Barbara Webb bwebb at inf.ed.ac.uk
Mon Jan 8 17:32:49 EST 2007

I've recently been re-reading Arbeau's bransle instructions and I would be 
interested in other people's opinions on how to dance the Haut Barrois 
branle. I don't think I've ever seen anyone teach it explicitly. Even if 
this dance not so interesting in itself I noticed that the tabulation of 
both the Montarde and Official Branle call explicitly for them to be done 
in 'Haut Barrois style', and it is also stated that Pease, Cassandra and 
Pinagay can optionally be danced this way. The simple solution seems to be 
to dance them as a 'skipped' version i.e. bouncing/hopping between 
each step. However that isn't what Arbeau describes...

I'm working from the Dover edition, translated by Mary Stewart Evans, though 
I've also had a look at the original and can't spot anything that I (not 
expert in French) would translate differently.

Arbeau says Haut Barrois is like a double branle except "the shoulders and 
arms, as well as the feet, must be made to move with the petit sauts 
[little jumps] to a light vivacious duple time". The 'jumping' is then 
described as follows:

"spring sideways off both feet, moving towards the left, and alight pied 
largi gauche [i.e. as in a step left]. Then spring sideways off both feet 
again, moving towards the left, and alight pied droit approche [i.e. with 
right foot near left, the second step of a normal sideways double]. Then 
spring sideways to the left off both feet again and alight pied largi 
gauche. Then spring sideways off both feet, moving to the left, and alight 
pieds joints [feet together] or else upon the left foot followed by a 
greve droit or pied en l'air droit [raised right foot] and then the double 
a gauche [double to the left] will be completed"

In the tabulation the jumps follow the steps i.e. for the 8 notes of a 
bar to do a double left:
Note 	1: step left
 	2: jump
 	3: bring right foot close
         4: jump
         5: step left
         6: jump
         7: feet together
         8: jump

I've tried occasionally over the years to do what Arbeau describes, i.e. 
jumping off both feet between each step of a double, and I cannot seem to 
find a way to do it that feels plausible, let alone can be done smoothly 
and at speed as a simple variation on a double. Should we conclude that 
the description of jumping off both feet is just mistaken - which seems 
strange for the usually very clear Arbeau - or at best only applies to the 
beginning/end of the double? The original French is "saulterez des deux 
pieds" - which seems pretty clearly to mean a two-footed jump, not just a 
bounce or skip - but is another intepretation possible? And does anyone 
have thoughts about the shoulder and arm movements?

I'd be very interested to hear anyone else's ideas on this issue!



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