academie: Dance speed

Greg Lindahl lindahl at
Tue Apr 6 20:38:20 PDT 2004

> I don't know if this is from actual knowledge on your part of how
> fast a given dance style should be played versus you just liking a
> faster, bouncier dance.

In general little is known about it. Theorists tell you that the
tactus should be 60 beats/minute, and that there are 2 tactuses (ho
ho) in a galliard pattern, which would lead you to 180 steps/minute
for the 6 beats/5 steps in the basic pattern. But Arbeau tells us that
the tourdion and the galliard use the same notes, and the tourdion is
faster. So clearly the rule is made to be broken.

Me, I consider 160/min to be slowish, and 200/min to be pretty fast.
I can dance it slower and faster than that, but it gets awkward.

For other kinds of dances, like say ECD, the tactus theory says that
it's about 120 steps/minute. I consider that to be borderline
slow. And the argument about how fast people like it is the same
you'll run into in the modern ECD and Contra communities -- younger
groups generally like it faster than older ones. And everyone has an

-- Gregory

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