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Renaissance dance photo - not courante

Courante Dance History Origin Page title

    The truly noble Courant (koo-RAUNT) or Coronto (koo-RAUNT-o) which is considered a French Masque type Baroque & Renaissance dance (popular in 17th. Century England) as they perfected it. It was first mentioned in 1515 by French poet Clemont Marot (1496-1544). Originally, the Courant came from Italy to France via Catherine de Medici (1518-1589) and was danced in the sixteenth century at the French courts and lasting well into the 1800's. In the Philidor collection are several Courantes danced at the Medici's court, and all men of high degree were expected to dance them

well, or their education was deemed incomplete. The Italian Corrente was similar to the Courante and was very popular among court dances. The Elizabethan Courante was much quicker than the Courante of Louis XIV (1638-1715) and Charles II (1661-1700) reigns.

     Originally It was reported as a Pantomimic wooing dance. Curt Sachs Writes:
"Three young men invited three young ladies, leading them after another to the opposite side of the room, and left them standing there, while they themselves returned. Then one after the other they went back and made themselves agreeable with amorous looks and gestures, dusting and pulling up their shoes, and arranging their shirts. The Ladies, however, refused their hands and turned their backs, and the dancers had to go back again to their places without having achieved their purpose, and in great despair. At the end all three came forward and, on bended knees and wringing their hands, begged for mercy. Forgiven, they danced helter-skelter the Courante". (end sachs)

     When the Courante first came in it was often preceded by a ballet. Arbeau in describing it tells how three cavaliers chose their three partners, whom they placed in a row at the end of the room, then danced towards them. Much pantomimic gesture denoting love was introduced into the dance, so that when the lady turned her back on her advancing partner, as she did in the course of the measure, it represented a refusal of his suit, and the cavalier, making deep reverences preceding a quicker measure, meant urging his suit, till on bent knee he was taken back into favour and the dance was finished. The rhythms were left up to the musicians to play and was not set only to one, generally done in 2/4, originally 4/4 or 6/8 time with the tempi being rapid. The steps consisted of alternating two simple steps and then a double (single/single/double) to the left, then repeating the same to the right, with single or double straight steps, described as a skipping to and fro or zig-zagging around the floor (sounds like an early Foxtrot :) and it's charm was greatly enhanced by its arm movements. Sach's states that "the Courante was similar to the Branles and Piva dances". In 1650 the French courant had little to do with the original (and danced even faster) except in name. However, some of the Courante were very solemn". The most lavish of the courant's performed were during the period of the Grand Monarchy .

    About 1650 it became a Court dance, having originally been a pantomime play without words in dual measure, one of the oldest figure dances that has been left to us, and its character is decidedly grave. This was the favorite dance of King Louis XIV (1638-1715,) who is said to have performed it better than anyone else. The movements of the Courante were so important that it was looked upon as absolutely necessary to learn it before any other dance. Madame de Sévigné (1626-1696) and her daughter were noted for their grace when they danced it at the 'fête des Etats de Bretagne.' It has been compared to the Spanish Seguidilla, and is by some supposed to be the parent of the waltz and the precursor to the Minuet which was a Branles of Poitou, and was thus called because of its small steps and was derived from the Courante. When the pupil knew the steps of the Courante well, when he could turn his feet properly and control his movements, he was initiated into the mysteries of the graceful and ceremonious Minuet, which took three months to learn, and of which there were endless varieties (learning the courant was considered a pre requisite to the Minuet).

     By 1700 the Courant was no longer danced except as a basis of dance used by the dancing masters and became known as "Doctor Dance" through the use of its teaching techniques applied to other dances. In the early court dances the Pantomime (above by Sach's) played a major part of these dances and by 1550, the Pantomime part was all but forgotten. The Danse des Canaries was the next closest thing to the courant in as a courtship dance. Musically, the Courante was the second movement (Suites de Danses) of the classical baroque suite, typically following the allemande with the accompaniment in triple time (3/4).


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

1515 Italy n/a Court dance

Sheet Music Covers


Music Titles ...

Coranto n/a Air Tendre et Courante (Lully)
Courante (Michael Praetorius 1610)   Coranta [MP3]
    Coranto in "A", "D", "G"
    Coronto in C (Byrd)
    Corrente Italiana (Cabanilles)
    Courant (Eyck)
    Courante and Spagnoletta (Praetorius)
    Courante I & II [MP3] (Polak)
    Courante in E (Croft)
    Suite No. 1 In G Major [MP3] (Bach)
    Dances from "Terpsichore": Entrée - Courante [MP3]
    ~See: Full Courant Music List

Night Clubs



n/a n/a Etats de Bretagne

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage / Events

L.O.C. Video Clip n/a 1600 - Shakespeare's Henry V
            1697 - Duke of Burgandy wedding



Other Related Dances of the time...

Ballet Cracoviene Minuet Sequidilla
Basses Dance Danse de Bouffons Pantomime Sourante
Bransles Couran Furlana Pavane Spagnoletta
Branles, le Galliarde / Gagliarde Piva Spanish Dance
Canaries German Gofenanz Polka Sword Dance
Choral Dance Hautes Dance Rigaudon Tordion
Contredanse Hoventanz Saltarello Waltz
Cotillion Mazurka Sarabande  

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Clemont Marot (1496-1544) Catherine de Medici (1519-1589)
Claude Gervaise (1550) Charles IX (1550-1611)
Francois de Lauze (1623)  Henry III (1551-1589)
Madame de Sévigné (1626-1696) Queen Elizabeth (1553-1603)
Jean-Baptiste De Lully (1632-1687)  James (1566-1625) 
Master Louis Pécour (1655-1729) Prince Charles (1617) 
Raoul-Auger Feuillet (1659-1710)  King Louis XIV (1638-1715) 
Johann Kuhnau (1689) Charles II (1661-1700)
Pierre Rameau (1674-1748) (1720's)  
Mme. de Grignon (Sévigné daughter)  

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Publisher
Epitre des Dames de Paris Marot, Clemont 1515 n/a
Orchesographie Arbeau, Thoinot 1589 n/a
Court Ayres, Pavins, Corantos, &c., Playford, John 1655 n/a
Recueil de dances Pécour, Louis 1709 n/a
The Dancing Master Rameau, Pierre 1725/28 n/a
How to dance the revived ancient dances Holt, Ardern 1907 Cox

Musicians / Composers


Poets / Writers

- Hooper n/a (1515) - Clemont Marot (p)
Byrd, William (1543-1623)     (1600) - Shakespeare
Polak, Jacob (c.1545-1605)      (1634) - Prynne (w)
Gervaise, Claude (c.1555)     (1660s) - Pepys (w)
Schmid, Bernhard (c.1577)     Ben Johnson (w)
Eyck, Jacob (c.1590-1657)      
Lawes, Henry (1596-1692)       
$ Praetorius, Michael (c1610)      
Cabanilles, Juan Bautista (1644-1712)      
Purcell, Henry (1658-1695)      
Croft, William (1678-1727)      
Handel, George Frideric (1685-1759)      
$ Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750)      

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Court Dance Louis XIV Renaissance dance  
Danse / Danza Pochettes Stately dance    

The Art Of Dress 1500 to 1914
$ Art Of Dress 1500-1914
Medieval Costumes in England and France
$ Medieval Costume 1
Medeval Costumes and Fashions
$ Medieval Costume 2