[SCA-Dance] How were dances taught?

Mary Railing mrailing2 at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 14 23:18:23 EDT 2009

This is a topic for a longer response than I can give right now, but the short answer is that it depended on who you were.  A noble household might employ a dancing master to give lessons, as well as to oversee entertainments..  Gulielmo Ebreo and Fabritio Caroso were examples of this sort of dance master.  Or a courtier who was not a professional dance master might offer to tutor his patron's children in dance, as Cornazzano did.  Those who couldn't afford a household dance master could learn at a school.  These schools also taught other skills useful for those who wished to look well-bred, such as music, singing, fencing and horsemanship.  Giuseppi Ebreo and Cesare Negri were examples of dance masters who taught at a school, as well as giving private lessons to the nobility and choreographing dances for special occasions, such as weddings.  There are references to hiring a dance master temporarily just to teach one's daughter (and her fiance?) special
 dances for her wedding.

Dancing was taught, at least informally, at the inns of court in London, as well as at various universities on the continent.

In England a dance master was likely to be itinerant, spreading court fashions through the hinterland.  [Skiles Howard in _The Politics of Courtly Dancing in Early Modern England_ speculates that this my be why they didn't write detailed treatises the way the Italians did.]

Mom and Pop were no more likely to give their children dancing lessons themselves, than they would be now, unless Pop was a dance master.  Dance, like other trades, tended to run in families.  Guglielmo Ebreo was the son, brother and father of dancers.  Negri's daughter Margharita performed in entertainments that he choreographed.

Look up biographical info on known dancemasters, like Guglielmo, for more on how they and their contemporaries taught dance.


From: Trey <treydaddy at gmail.com>
To: sca-dance at sca-dance.org
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 5:32:55 PM
Subject: [SCA-Dance] How were dances taught?

How were dances taught in Period?  Did Mom and Pop teach?  Were there
Classes?  Just grew up going to dances every week?  Some of the stuff
seems too intricate to just have "picked up".
Curiously Yours,
Abel Frölicher
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