# Chapter 3: On the steps of the Basse Dance.

The manner of dancing the Basse Dance of the Burgundian school is very simple. To each breve tenor of the music of the dance is given one step of the dance. (Thus the breve is the measure of the music of the dance.) In this way, the dancers dance to the music of the tenor.

To the genera of step, the Burgundians allow five species. These are as follows:

• d the Pas Double or double step. In this step the dancer takes three steps forward (left, right, left or right, left, right) in the space of each breve. As the breves of the basse dance are in perfect tempus, the dancers step once upon each semibreve.
• ss the Pas Simple or single step. Although this is actually two steps, in basse dances single steps always come in pairs and thus a pair of Passes Simples are counted as one step. In this step, the dancers step first with the left foot and then with the right in the space of one breve, or else first with the right foot and then with the left according to the pattern of the dance. As the dancers must step twice within a single perfect breve, they must make a hemiola with the music of the dance.
• b the Bransle. In this step, the dancers step sideways with their left foot, shift their weight to the left and then close again. As the dancers must step twice within a single perfect breve, they must make a hemiola with the music of the dance.
• r the Démarche (or reprise). In this step, the dancers take a step to the rear, followed by a shifting of weight forwards and back. There are three movements to this step and one falls on each semibreve of the perfect breve of the tenor.
• R, c Révérence ( Congé). The révérence is a bow executed to the dance executed in the time of one breve of the tenor; for the most part, these come at the beginning of the dance. The congé is a final bow executed at the end of the dance; it takes one breve of space in the final longa of the dance.

Burgundian basse dances begin with an initial révérence and bransle (although some say it is a démarche and bransle and some say it is two bransles) followed by some number of measures (of the dance), each of which begins with a pair of single steps and ends with a bransle. At the end of the dance comes the congé. The dance is notated with a series of letters giving the steps of the dances. For example, the dance Alenchon is notated:

```R b   ss d r ss ddd ss rrr b    ss d ss rrr b
ss ddd ss rrr b c.
```

[Note that one measure of the dance comprises many measures of the music or breves in the tenor.]

The Italians have many species of steps besides these five: the Riprésa, the Continenza, the Contrapasso, the Volta, the Salto and the Postura, etc. For the most part, these steps also correspond to the notes of the tenor, one to the breve. Thus musically, the number of steps in the dance must equal the number of perfect breves in the tenor of the dance.

There is some dispute among the dancing masters about how each individual step is to be danced. The description of Toulouze is different from that of Coplande, and the description of Brainard is different from that of Daniel of Falling Rocks. However, none disputes that the steps are allocated one to each breve of the tenor, and thus I say that this is a concern for the dancers to be left to their sense of what is just and proper and not a concern for the musicians who must concentrate on making music so that the dancers can dance.

This file developed and maintained by

Russell G. Almond
almond@acm.org