[SCA-Dance] A Question of Latin

Mary Railing mrailing at kiva.net
Wed Apr 9 13:03:51 EDT 2008

It would help if you could post the words you are asking about (or a link 
to the relevant passages).  "Saltare" sounds like it should have to do 
with acrobatics rather than dancing, but it is the normal word for dance.  
"Ballare" is the other common word.  It doesn't seem to be more courtly 
than "saltare".  "Ballarina" meaning a professional stage dancer, is a 
modern word.

The relationship between acrobatics and dancing in medieval Europe is an 
under-reserched (for lack of sources) topic. The two seem to overlap, 
especially with regard to the really under-researched topic of the female 
low class entertainers whose dancing included cartwheels and handstands in 
a dress! ;)  If your source refers to women being paid to dance, it may 
well refer to this.  Respectable stage dancing by women, as hired 
entertainment, seems not to have occurredin England in this period.
 Dance masques and other such entertainments are listed in the Master of 
Revels account books from Elizabeth and James' reigns. Lots of entries 
refer to purchases of materials for dancers' costumes.  Of course by this 
time the entries are in English and say "dancers", although they make it 
clear that (on stage at least) the parts of women were danced by boys.  
Are you looking at this sort of data from an earler reign? 

If none of this seems relevent it's because I'm guessing as to what you 
are looking at.


On Mon, 7 Apr 2008, Kirsten Garner wrote:

> Hi all,
> I was following a line of research this morning that
> landed me smack in the middle of some privy council
> records from the early years of Henry VI's reign. As I
> was translating the Latin, I started wondering about
> the terms for 'dancers'. There are several terms used
> in the period sources - does anyone happ
en to know if
> there were any nuances of meaning in the Latin terms?
> (For example, x = acrobat-type dancer/dance, y =
> "noble" dancer/dance, z = stage dancer/dance, or
> anything like that.)
> Many thanks for any assistance. :) 
> Julian
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