|| The Renaissance was a time of art, music, engineering, trade, and amazing change. The Renaissance changed the face of humanity forever and continues to this day. Court dancers basically referred to the dances of the upper classes such as Kings, Queens, Dukes, Duchesses etc. The court dances or dance's of court were many and varied (see dance list below) and were sometimes called 'Stately Dances or Society Dances'. In the early court dances the Pantomime played a major part of these dances and by 1550, the pantomime was all but forgotten. |
Dancing was a favourite pastime in the Renaissance period. These dances were formal, some were flirty or comical. Dancing in those days were an elegant form of exercise and an expected social skill for society's noble set. The Basse dances or court dances were the start of the "Society Dance's" over time to the present. The basse danse, (or "low dance,") was the most popular court dance in the 15th and early 16th centuries.
The Pavane - was originally fast but it slowed with time. It was a sedate yet dignified couple dance. The pavane as a musical form survived long after the dance itself was abandoned, and well into the Baroque period when it finally gave way to the Allemande / Courante sequences. The Allemande originated in the 16th century and was favoured by the Germans, then eventually the French grabbed onto it. The Allemande basically was a serious dance which paraded as couple's, back and forth the entire length of the ballroom, walking three steps, possibly a little hop. Some of the Allemande would find its way into the Waltzes and Square Dance. The grave and majestic Courante was a sight to see. Then there were the lively dances such as the Galliard, Coranto, Canario, Saltarello, La Volta and others. Click a link to see more info on each of these dances.
There were basically two types of social dances of Court in the Renaissance period.
1) Simple dances that were performed by an unlimited number of people. These dances were usually performed in circles or lines.
2) Complex dances that required a dancing master (dance instructor) and practice.
All these eventually gave way to the American and English Ballroom dances which was the death bow to "Court Dances".
Often times the dance master was also the local musician for the dances being performed. These dance masters sometimes would travel from town to town, while others stayed in one spot, usually hired by a king, Queen or someone who could afford to maintain a dancing master. Because most of these dances being done were more complicated than the peasant dances, only nobility could afford to learn them, so they became a statement of wealth and power. Fashion in ones clothing (Clothing at this time created an impression of mass and bulk) and sometimes decorative Swords, Rapiers, etc. and Occassionally even Spurs at the time prevented a lot of movement of the dancers which is why most of these dances are more solemn in movement. Body Odor was not as bad a problem as with the peasant dances of the time as all could afford Parfume or Cologne as well as lots of Potpourri's provided by the host.
Many of these dances (with appropriate music and costumes) are still popular today under different guises such as Ren faires, Renaissance Faires, Weddings (The step used in the pavane survives to the modern day in the hesitation step sometimes used in weddings), RenaissanceBalls, Masquerade Balls etcetera. There are other Court type dances done around the world such as India's Court dances like the Kathak and Manipuri dance forms. We have listed a few films near the bottom of this page.