[SCA-Dance] English dance before Playford?

Dani Zweig dani at pobox.com
Mon Jan 23 12:24:59 EST 2012

Here's an article I wrote once upon a time, but take it with a grain of
salt, because I wrote it when I thought I knew more about the subject, and
because there's more material available today:


Here's another article from the mists of time, by Joseph Casazza:


What we know about ECD in general tells us very little about whether a
specific dance 'might' have been done in period.  The honest answer is any
given dance probably has numerous traceable elements - lyrics, music,
written instructions, steps, figures, name of dance - but was likely
performed in a style that owed a lot to current fashion.  That's true today
- even for dance genres with historical roots - and I know of no reason to
believe that it was different in period.  There isn't much evidence for the
"fashion changed very slowly back then" school of thought.

- Dani

On Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 11:43 AM, Tim McDaniel <tmcd at panix.com> wrote:

> I want to find out if I understand correctly what we know of English
> dance before Playford.  Would someone please check my understanding?
> There are references to dances being done: an ambassador saw Queen
> Elizabeth dancing the Spanish Panic, and I read a reference to a
> payment to the three people dancing Trenchmore before the Queen, and
> doubless many others.
> Italian dances made it to England.  The Gresley intro (q.v.) mentions
> "A collection of Basse Danses in the Salisbury manuscript date from
> the 1400s, and was published by Robert Copelaunde in the 1500s. While
> the Basse Dances are considered French, it is believed they had been
> performed in England ..."  How about bransles?
> The Pattricke|Lovelace Manuscript.  It's not clear about the date, but
> it's apparently not from before 1649, two years before Playford.
> The Old Measures|Inns of Court dances are in multiple manuscripts and
> I think are pretty clear, but that's 8 dances.
> Gresley is circa 1500, and has "choreography for 26 dances and the
> music for 13, with an overlap of 8 dances having both music and
> choreography" <http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/lod/vol5/gresley.html>.
> But it's just one man's memory aid: it doesn't explain the steps, and
> only some can have inferences drawn from steps with similar names in
> other dances.
> Danihel Lindicolinum
> --
> Tim McDaniel, tmcd at panix.com
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