[SCA-Dance] 1500 rip rip trab trab?

Aylwen Gardiner-Garden aylwengg at gmail.com
Wed Apr 30 20:46:27 EDT 2014

What a good question and a good reason for asking. Here's some thoughts
wending towards an answer...

In the 15th century manuscripts the Italian term ripresa (plural riprese)
is often used like French a form of honouring or as punctuation between
sections of a dance. Where, however, the latter is a step done backwards,
the former seems usually a step to the side or backwards only in the sense
that it might wheel the dancer a ¼ or ½ about. Unlike the late 16th century
Italian ripresa, the late 15th century Italian ripresa usually covers more
ground and takes longer than a continenza. In the late 15th century it
would usually take a whole measure-which in quadernaria timing is 4 counts
and in bassadanza timing 6 counts (there don't seem to be any instances of
this step in either piva or saltarello timing), but occasionally we have
texts call for riprese for which they allocate only half that amount (e.g.
Mercantia, Petit Rinensis and Spero). The later the text the more likely it
seems that a shorter timing is implied.

For your purposes, however, more important that the time allocated to the
'term' is whether a ripresa was a simple step (such as a slow single) or a
compound step (like a side-ways or retiring double). Speaking infavour of
interpreting the word as denoting a single step might be the fact that it
is unambiguously so used a hundred years later. Speaking in favour of
interpreting the word as denoting a compound step might be both the fact
that more than one of these later riprese can fit in the time of one of
these early ones, and the fact that in the Cevera manuscript the notion for
a reprise is a squiggle that looks a little like a 3 and this might
represent two movements. I myself do not consistently interpret them as a
single or double step, but let myself be led by the musical, dance and
social context. It is sometimes useful to have a slow single riprese offer
some contrast in the middle of an otherwise busy passage, but sometimes
useful to make the riprese a double step when you need to use it to turn

Coming now to your search for early indications of a 'rip rip trab trab'
formula, we might then have the 'rip rip' hidden in the simple term
'ripresa', but we don't get a clear 'trab trab' following it. We do,
however, sometimes have the word ripresa or riprese qualified by another
word or expression, and invariably the meaning is not entirely clear. We
have two riprese larghe to turn about in Ingrata but it is not clear from
the context why they are 'slow/wide/broad'. We also have several types of
riprese which in context seem to go on diagonals. We have una ripresa sul
gallone in Corona, as well as in 'Damnes'). We find riprese portoghalese in
Spero and Venus, as well as in 'Caterva', 'Damnes', and 'Principessa'-most
commonly but not always in groups of three and occasional larghe. Most
interesting of all for your puruposes, we read of riprese galopade in
Chastellana, as well as in 'Fortunosa'. The term 'galoppo' seems to denote
a sprung step that occurs in sets of two or three. As manuscripts sometimes
substitute a sempio or piva for a galoppo (or vice-versa) it is possible
that a galoppo is either a sempio beginning or ending with a hop or some
form of piva that is different from the usual. As it is hard to conceive of
the later, I have often opted for the former interpretation. The step is
also called for in the Siena (Sc) manuscript of Gelosia, Ingrata and
Malgratiosa at points were they would seem to take the same time as an
unhurried single and where they may well be steps with a hop. Could it,
however, be a more divided measure still? I have interpreted the riprese
galopati (in Chastelana) as a brisk 'Irish 7's' like stepping to the side
with 11 weight changes inside the 6 counts of the bassedance measure.

Could riprese galopati when done on an angle in double time be the Gresley

The term rak in the Gresley manuscript, as you and all who venture into
that material are aware, would seem to have some connotation of dragging
across the ground and/or of going at an angle to a perpendicular or the
grain. The ending of the Gresley dance Talbott (Then togeder 2 doblis, 2
rakis, and a turne) thus seems a little like the ending of Petit Riense
where dancers meet a double, do a ripresa each way and then turn single.
(other suggest the 3 Rakkys and a stop in the Gresley dance 'Hawthorne'
(no. 21) might be like the '3 singles to the right' (iii s a destre) in the
Nancy dance Basse Dance de Bourbon). Does this mean, however, the whole
sequence is in the one direction-as in the 3 part French demanche /reprise,
or is it more like the contemporary continenza or later trango/trangato and
more likely to involve and alternation of direction? Is it possible that
when there are 3 they are all on an angle back to the right, but when there
are 2, they are angled back to one side then the other like a pair of
trangati in a Caroso cascade or simply to the directly to one side then the
other like a pair of continenze? Is it possible that in some contexts they
are like an English country dance setting step each way?- and thus the
combination we find in Prense on Gre rak both togeder and torne, which in
my reconstruction of that dance I interpreted as set and turn.

All the best with your pondering! In the absence of a consistently
satisfying solution, I myself have been happy satisfy 'rak' slightly
differently in different Gresley dances/contexts.

For 700 plus pages devoted to 1450-1550 dance, dance evolution, dance
sources, steps, figures, dance reconstructions etc (reconstructions of the
dance and music for Eglamowr, Esperans, Libeaus Disconus, Northumberland,
Prenes a gard. Prenes on gre, Talbot and Temperans-all the Gresley dances
for which there are tunes by the same name in the manuscript-and lots of
discussion of who the Gresley repertoire/style relates to the contemporary
continental one) see my book Historic Dance Volume I: 1450-1550 (contents
viewable at
http://www.earthlydelights.com.au/books-cds/Historic-Dance-I-1450-1550 ).
For 700 plus pages on Caroso era dance see my Historic Dance Volume II:
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 My dance books are available individually from
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To enjoy 3 days of live-music early dance with my academy and enthusiasts
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come to our Festival of Early Dance in Canberra on 7-9 June-
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are very welcome and will be amazed to discover the scene and standard we

Warmest regards,
Dr John Gardiner-Garden

garden at earthlydelights.com.au
*Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy

On 30 April 2014 02:23, Tim McDaniel <tmcd at panix.com> wrote:

> I don't suppose there's evidence in Italian dance in 1500 or before of
> little sideways steps repeated in the same direction?  I looked
> briefly in the Terp booklet at Domenico dances, but the glance
> suggested that they appeared in pairs right and left.
> It's just me worrying at Gresley dances _again_.  I happened to think
> of the 16th C ripresa ripresa trabuchetto trabuchetto and realized
> that the movement would look like a rake.
> Danett de Linccolne
> --
> Tim McDaniel, tmcd at panix.com

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