Step Descriptions & Timing


S -- Single and D -- Double

The single and double steps used in the Burgundian Basse Danses are done as open steps, as opposed to the French and Italian styles of the period in which the steps are done as closed steps. That means, a single step is just a step forwards on the left foot, and a single right is done as a step forwards onto the right foot. This is similar to the “passi” of the 16th century Italian dances.

A double left is done in 6 beats as follows:



Step forwards on the left foot, rising into the balls of the feet.


Step forwards onto the right foot, staying up on the balls of the feet.


Step forwards onto the left foot, lowering back onto the heels.



Note that in the Burgundian dances, each double takes one bar of 6/4 time, and two singles are also done in one bar.


Left and Right foot

The manuscripts are not clear as to whether these dances should start on the left or on the right foot. Tholouze and Brussels make some mention that the first sequence of doubles should start on the left foot, but opinions vary on whether the opening reverance and bransle are done this way. Some dance groups do the entire set of Burgundian basse danses on opposite feet, i.e. the man starts the dance on the left foot, and the lady starts the dance on the right foot. There is really no "correct" or "incorrect" way to do this -- it is up to the individual dance group to set (or not set) a standard. I have therefore not included the foot after each of the dance steps -- singles are given as "S" rather than "SL" or "SR", etc.


Br -- Branle

Holding hands, the dancers take a single step away from each other without joining feet together, and then step back towards the partner, joining feet together again. Look towards your partner as you do this.


R -- Demarche

A Demarche is called for in the Burgundian Basse Dances of the early manuscripts (Tolouse and Brussels), in the place of a Reprise which occurred in the later manuscripts (Moderne). In some cases, the same dance was reprinted, with the Demarches replaced by Reprises. Tolouse & Brussels abbreviated the Demarche with an "r", which adds to the confusion.

A Demarche is done to the same time as a double. For the right foot demarche, step back on the right foot on the first beat. On the second beat, sway forwards, moving your weight onto the front (left) foot. On the third beat, sway backwards, moving your weight onto the back (right) foot. On the fourth beat, close feet, stepping backwards with the left foot.

Effectively, you will have taken a single step backwards to the same time as a double step backwards.


Rv -- Reverance

The jury is definitely still out on this step. It is either the same as a French reverance, or it is just another way of specifying a Demarche. Take your pick.