Monday, February 12, 2007

Anatomy of a Dance Reconstruction, Part 1

I have no idea whether anyone would be interested in how I go about such things, but I figured I might as well do a post on how I personally go about researching a Renaissance dance for reconstruction.

Step one, of course, is to settle upon a dance to reconstruct. I typically start by looking through my collection of recorded music, since the music is essential to both the reconstruction and performance of the dance. I’m looking for three features at this stage:
  1. I like the music,
  2. the dance isn’t commonly performed in my kingdom, and
  3. a period description of the dance is readily available.
In my most recent project, I settled on Contrapasso Nuovo, a sixteenth-century Italian dance by Fabritio Caroso, published in Il Ballarino. The music is available from The Dragonscale Consort on their album, "A Consort of Dance". This music is, incidentally, the same music used for the dance Contrapasso (often called “Contrapasso in Due”, and so named on the album). This is a very nice, romantic piece of music which is available to many dancers in the SCA, so it fulfills criterion #1.

Contrapasso has been researched before, both by myself and others, but I’ve yet to see Contrapasso Nuovo on a dance list anywhere, so it fulfills criterion #2.

Finally, the entire text of Il Ballarino is available on the internet in facsimile, transcription, and translation. Easy access to source material is a huge bonus, especially if you want to demonstrate your process to an internet audience. This dance easily meets criterion #3.

This concludes the first stage of dance reconstruction -- choosing the dance. I’m going to stop here for the moment, since I plan to milk this topic for at least three posts.

The process continues in Part 2.

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