Steps of The basse dance
This is meant as a brief summary of the steps of the basse dance. (I'm
hoping that Malice will put up a more complete description later). The
Historical Dance page contains a complete transcription of the
instructions given in the Brussels MS.
Note that each of the five types of steps take exactly one breve of the
tenor (singles always come in pairs). Thus one of these symbols
corresponds to a breve of music. The basse dance is divided into measures
begining with a pair of singles (except for the first measure which begins
with a révérence and a bransle before the two singles) and
end with a bransle. These measures of the dance should not be confused
with measures of the music (which in modern notation correspond to breves
in the tenor).
- 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.
[List by length]
These pages designed and maintained by Russell Almond
Last modified: Sun March 9 17:39:38 1997
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