[SCA-Dance] Contrapasso 15th C / 16th C

Mary Railing mrailing2 at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 3 13:03:33 EST 2012

There is nothing like the 15th century contrapassi in the 16th century step repertoire. It is possible that the dance name "Contrapasso" refers to the dancers moving counter to each other in the figure-8. (This does seem to be the signature figure of this dance, since I have seen another choreography with instructions to do the "turn from the Contrapasso.")

As for how the figure-8 is done, the instruction "they turn (voltaranno) to the left" doesn't necessarily imply a figure-8. It could be a turn over the left shoulder, more or less in place, followed by a turn over the right shoulder. Scadians make lobes left and right perpendicular to the direction we are facing, but that is purely an interpretation. It is also possible that the first step of each lobe is toward one's partner, rather than a sharp pivot to the side. If you find a turn to the left awkward, perhaps a flanking step forward to begin each turn would work better for you. (I find a turn to the left with the left foot free perfectly natural.)


 From: "tmcd at panix.com" <tmcd at panix.com>
To: sca-dance at sca-dance.org 
Sent: Monday, December 3, 2012 1:41 AM
Subject: [SCA-Dance]  Contrapasso 15th C / 16th C
I did a quick bit of looking in re Contrapasso in Due.

(If you're curious: I was taught it to have verses 2 thru 4 circling
clockwise, then counterclockwise, and then do the figure 8 starting
towards the left.  Someone in my group pointed out that it would flow
much more nicely if you started the figure 8 to the right, as you'd
keep your momentum.  But
http://jducoeur.org/IlBallarino/Book2/Contrapasso.html , which appears
to be a pretty crude and literal translation, has it "turn to the left
... then turning to the right".
http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/caroso/transcription/0134.raw.html has an
Italian transcription.  I wish the other way could be justified.)





Contrapassi are doubles that are done consecutively on the same
foot. The first double is step left-right-left as a normal doppio, and
then do a quick shift of weight onto the right foot.

The next contrapasso will also begin on the left foot, so two or more
contrapassi in a row will be done left, left, left, not like sempii or
dopii which would be done left, right, left.

The last contrapasso in a sequence is abbreviated, so that instead of
finishing with a movement back on to the right foot, it simply omits
the final step onto the left. So, two contrapassi in a row would be
done as step left, step right, step left & back, step left, step
right; still finishing with the left foot ready to lead the next
step. Three of them would be done step left, step right, step left &
back, step left, step right, step left & back, step left, step right.

Contrapassi can also be done on the right foot, which are the same as
described above but changing "left" for "right" throughout.

Note that two of these steps are done in 1 1/2 bars of music, and so
the last movement back onto the left foot is done rather quickly, and
the timing of the steps must be arranged carefully to match the music.

Diana Cruickshank examines this contrapasso step in detail in an
article in Historical Dance, 1992.


But that page says 15th C, and Caroso was late 16th C.  Did
contrapasso (like I think riprisa and continenza) change its meaning
between the centuries?

Danel de Lyncoln
Tim McDaniel; Reply-To: tmcd at panix.com
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