The Canary Islands (Islas Canarias) are a group of seven islands, an autonomous region of Spain, in the Atlantic Ocean off the western Sahara and constitute two provinces of Spain. The Treaty of Alcácovas (1479) between Portugal and Spain recognized Spanish sovereignty over the Canaries. Folklore says: 'The Spanish explorers named the Islands after what they saw looked like a canary hopping on its perch when the native's were dancing'. The dance is sometimes referred to as 'the Hay'. Wine was the main export of the Canaries until the grape blight of 1853. The Canaries were frequently raided by pirates and privateers.
There has not been much written on the 'Il canaries dance' but what I can find is that the Canaries dances were popular in
the sixteenth century and was most graceful both in the leg and arm movements, however the dance was considered very difficult to do. Later it traveled thru Spain into France and ending in England, supposedly contributing to the masque. It was originally done as a funeral dance (1552 - endechas de Canario) and have been said to be done by the "Savages" of the island, this changed over time and became a theatrical or stage dance with much vigour, athleticism, snapping of fingers (Chioppare or Chrich) or Castagnettes. The Danse des Canaries was the next closest thing to the courant as a courtship dance with the Canario of Spain being considered the father of the Jota.
The Canaries dance was generally done by men while the female version was called the "Gigue pour une femme," while the music was generally done in 3/8 time and may be done in 2/8 time. Shakespeare also speaks of "canary-it with your feet." It is said to have originated in a ballet composed for a masquerade, the costumes those of the kings and queens of Morocco. The dance is considered to be related to the Schuhplatter and Bohemian Proti-sobe dance.
One couple dances through the hall. A lady is taken out by a gentleman, they dance together; he leads her to the end of the hall, always looking at her, leaves her and dances backwards, then moves forward and makes up to her again, and retreats as before. Then his partner does the same, and this is repeated several times with various steps. The dance was sometimes accompanied by castanets. The movements are said to be bold, bizarre and exotic. The steps consists of a skip and a stomp with the alteration of the heel and sole in the stamp. The dance consisted of many Pirouettes and semi-caprioles. This dance was considered very difficult and only the better dancers were allowed to dance it.
The Canaries dance was a Court dance, and in the early court dances the Pantomime (see courant for idea) played a major part of these dances and by 1550 the Pantomime part was all but forgotten. The Danza Antigua de Hermigua is an ancient warrior dance from the Hermigua region in the Gomera Island (Canary Islands, Spain). Accompanied by drums and chácaras (large castanets).
The dance is for two people or may be done as couple. Costume may be of Moroccan Kings and Queens.