[SCA-Dance] Haut Barrois branle

Mikuláš migulas at gmail.com
Mon Jan 8 17:48:18 EST 2007

Barbara Webb wrote:
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> 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!
> cheers
> Caitlin
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In our group, we decided to ignore the tabulation (they seem to get a 
bit strange each time a "petit saut" is involved) and stick to the 
description. With a bit of practice, one can get easily used both to 
springing from both feet and landing on both feet. With further 
practice, it can even become quite natural, comfortable and eye-pleasing 

I have no breaking ideas about the arms, because from the text it is not 
clear, if Arbeau describes just some accidentary motion or if one has to 
move his arms actively. I believe that on this field you can let your 
phantasy go wild ;) Consulting period images of dancing might be helpfull.

Break a leg with more Arbeau stuff ;)


P.S.: By the way, Gavotte is allso danced with "petit sauts"...

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