[SCA-Dance] Fw: Help with some Itailian Dances

Jane & Mark Waks waks at comcast.net
Mon Apr 6 10:27:03 EDT 2009

C. Timar wrote:
> We have a number of manuscripts from Italy from 1450-1500 describing
> one sort of dance, and a few books from around 1590-1610 describing a
> different sort of dance.  Both of these styles are called "Italian."

Just to illustrate the messiness of the situation, though, one of the 
"early Italian" sources is from Germany (albeit describing Italian 
dance). In general, the lines are blurry.

> Anyway, the Italian dances from 1450 and the Italian dances from 1600
> are very different, though the Italian descriptions use some of the
> same terms.  I think it is wiser to try to learn the two styles
> separately, so you don't confuse the students with two different kinds
> of continenza (for example).

Quite possibly, yes. I usually treat early and late Italian as more or 
less completely unrelated: while the steps have a little bit of 
historical echo, they're wildly different. And the aesthetics and 
priorities are wildly different. On *average*, the 15th century Italian 
repertoire is a bit easier than the 16th, although there are easy and 
hard dances in both.

It's definitely possible to learn both at once, but it needs to be done 
with care, to make sure you don't mix them up. And there are easier 16th 
century dances to start with than, say, Contrapasso in Due -- I tend to 
start with things like Villanella and Alta Regina, which are more 
comparable to Amoroso and Gelosia in difficulty.

> Amoroso, Gelosia, and Petit Rien are from the 15th century sources,

As are Reale, and Lauro (the dance most often done to La Spagna).

> and the Saltarello is in that style, too.

Hmm. We should be careful with the word "Saltarello", because it's used 
in multiple ways across the Society. I assume you're talking about an 
improvised Saltarello, similar to the improvised Pivas that have been 
catching on in recent years?

It's important not to confuse that with Saltarello La Regina, a popular 
but modern invention of the SCA, which was an early attempt to guess at 
what a 14th century dance might look like. (The music is period, but the 
choreography was sheer guesswork based on some period illustrations.) 
It's fun, and I still teach it from time to time, but usually with the 
caveat that it's probably wrong in every respect...

				-- Justin

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