Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Anatomy of a Dance Reconstruction, Part 3

In our last entry, we defined the steps that we would be using in this dance.

Continenze Move the left foot four inches away from the right, then close, including a smooth dipping motion. A continenza takes four counts.
Doppio presto A double with rising and lowering of the heels, done in two counts.
Passi grave Single steps that take two beats each
Passi presti Single steps that take one beat each
Riprese From feet even, move the left foot 4 inches away from the right, raising both the heels a little; then close, lower both heals. A ripresa, takes two counts.
Riverenze graveFor the riverenza grave, draw your left foot back in a straight line until the toe is even with your right heel, then bend and widen at the knees to descend. Rise by straightening at the knees while bringing your left foot forward until it’s even with your right. The whole motion takes eight counts.
Seguito grave Three passi in three counts, followed by a pause on the fourth count.
Seguito ordinario Move the left foot forward so the heel is even with the right toe; advance the right foot similarly in the second beat; the left advances again in the third beat, and the right falls even on the fourth. This is essentially a double in four counts.
Seguito semidoppio Two passi presti and one seguito spezzato. The whole sequence takes four counts.
Seguito spezzato Place the left foot a half step forward; in the second beat, place the right toe next to the left heel and raise both heels, then settle.
Trabuchetti gravi From a standing start with your feet even, hop a little to your left, leaving all your weight on your left foot and keeping your right foot up. Then hop back to your right, landing on your right foot and keeping your left up. Be careful not to let one foot slip behind the other during the trabuchetti; both feet should remain even from a front-to-back perspective. All of this takes place in two counts.

With those sorted out, we can now try to make them fit the music (you can download a brief sample from the Dragonscale Consort's album page). Of course, one of the first things that you’ll notice when listening to the music is that it isn’t arranged in measures of eight or sixteen counts. It’s arranged in measures of twelve or twenty-four counts. Consequently, a step that usually takes four beats will take six beats in this particular dance.

Again, we’ll want to work with just a manageable portion of the text, so we’ll go with the introductory portion of the dance.

To do this Contrapasso, 6 people will befall you, 3 men, and 3 ladies; the which will stand in the wheel with this order, that is, 1 man and 1 woman,
We begin with our starting positions. We have three couples arranged “in the wheel”, but we’re left wondering what Caroso means by a wheel. It’s undoubtedly some kind of circular arrangement, but we don’t really have enough information to know whether everyone’s facing inward, or the couples are facing around clockwise, or what. We’ll have to see what follows to determine the details.

and all without taking hands will do together the Riverenza grave,
This is our first actual movement direction. The couples are not holding hands. They all perform a Riverenza grave, which we learned in the last post would normally take eight ordinary beats. For this dance, then, the move will take twelve ordinary beats.

and 2 Seguiti ordinarii turned to the left:

Next, we have two ordinary sequences, which are ornamented doubles. An ordinario normally takes four counts, so in this dance they will take six. Since an ordinario consists for four steps, we’ll have to figure out a way to space them out over six beats. For me, that usually means taking the steps in the first four beats and then resting on the last two.

and walking in the wheel, moreover to the left, they will do 2 Passi gravi, and 1 Seguito semidoppio;
Passi gravi typically take two beats each, so these will take three beats each. The seguito semidoppio normally takes four beats, so it will take six in this dance: three beats for the initial two passi presti and three more for the spezzato.

then turning back facing, with finding them in the manner which they were standing in the start, they will do 2 Passi gravi and 3
Trabuchetti, starting it with the right and concluding to feet even.
Two more passi gravi will take another six counts, and three trabuchetti will take another six.

They will return to do the same walk another turn.
And at this point we repeat everything we’ve already done except the opening Riverenza, which has nothing to do with us walking in the wheel.

12Riverenza grave
122 Seguito Ordinario (doubles)
62 Passi Grave (slow singles)
62 Seguito semidoppio (two quick singles and a spezzato)
62 Passi Grave (slow singles)
63 Trabuchetti (one hop to each foot per trabuchetto)
36Repeat from Seguiti Ordinarii

Unfortunately, at no point have we actually determined which dancers are going in which direction while “walking in the wheel”. Having no visual reference for how the dance was performed in period, this will be a matter of interpretation, which we’ll examine in a future post.

On to Part 4.

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