DANCE IN THE MIDDLE AGES

What role did dance play in the lives of peasants?

-Dance was done for sacred and secular purposes

-Dance was used as a means of breaking the tedium of everyday life.

-Every town had their own dance allowing them to find their cultural identity, it was a way they expressed their unique culture and lifestyle

-Maypole Dance: Fertility dance where young girls would perform circle dances around a tall pole that was decorated with flowers. The girls each held a ribbon attached to the pole. As the girls danced in a circular pattern, the ribbon became intertwined.

-Dance of Death (Dance Macabre): An allegory (story, poem or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning) on the universality of death. A dance to remind people of the fragility of their lives and that death could come at any moment.

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How did the church react to the central role of dance within the peasants lives?

-At first the church condemned dancing, but then dance became so popular that the church decided to use dance as a means to communicate their religious messages. Below are the 3 ways they used dance to teach religion:

-Mystery Plays: Focused on bible stories

-Miracle Plays: Focused on real or fictitious accounts of the lives of saints

-Morality Plays: Focused on stories about a main character choosing a godly life over a life

of evil

Medieval Theatre

Renaissance & Court dance: How did dance shift from peasant rituals to upper class entertainment?

-Many noble houses had in residence a dance master who taught the steps and proper bearing of the popular dances. These dances were based on folk dances of the peasants

-Gugliemo Ebreo was the most famous dancing master of the Renaissance

-Two of the most influential families supporting the arts were the de Medici's and the Sforzas

Catherine de Medici played an important role in the arts at this time

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What court dances were being taught by the dancing masters?

-Pavane: simplest steps, gentlemen walked behind their ladies, leading them by the hand. A lot of curtsies

-Basse: low to the ground, slow steps (adagio)

-Haute: off the ground, series of lively steps (allegro)

-Galliard: faster dance, leaps and leg thrusts with 5 basic steps

-Allemande: slow and flowy, only social dance where partners held hands

-Tarantella: done by couples, very elegant and graceful OR a solo dance done by the victim of a spider bite and lasted for hours or even days. (The wolf spider was common in the area and was believed to be highly poisonous. They believed the victim needed to engage in frenzied dance to avoid death.)

Basse Danse

How did court dancing shape the performance space?

-The focal point of court entertainment was the nobility or guest of honor

-The guest of honor was always placed at the end of the hall with the performer in the center while guests observed from the sides, thus emerged the idea of the forward facing dancer and theatrical stage

What was the first major dance production and how did it come about?

-Catherine de Medici sponsored the creation of the first real ballet

-Her dancing master, Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx, choreographed Ballet Comique de la Reine in 1581. It lasted 5 hours.

-The set included fountains, water machines, floats and garderns.

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What is Louis XIV's role in creating ballet from court dances?

-He was known as the Sun King, a role he played in one of his ballets

-The style of classical ballet that we know today owes a great deal to his mannerisms

-He was the Patron of Academie Francaise which became the French Academy of Dance, the first ballet school ever

-He worked with Jean Baptiste Lully, a composer who created a form of opera that featured dance. The precursor to the Paris Opera Ballet

-Louis XIV's teacher was Pierre Beauchamps, who was the director of the Royal Academy of Dance and codified the ballet foot and arm positions with turn out

Ballet Evolved - At the court of Louis XIV