[ This article appeared in volume 1 of the Letter of Dance. ]
[This is a bibliography of sources that a) contain descriptions of period dances, and b) are in print. (Or were when it came out, in an early issue of the Letter.) It isn't complete, but it should provide an excellent start for the aspiring scholar looking for useful sources. Do you have additions? Send a brief description to the Letter, and I'll publish them on the Letters page... -- Justin]
Frederick Crane, Materials for the Study of the Fifteenth-Century Basse Dance. This book compiles all the 15th century texts and music for the basse dance between its covers. Most of the documents are in French. Published by the Institute of Medieval Music, 1653 West 8th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11223, about US$40.
Thoinot Arbeau, Orchesography . Anyone with a real interest in period dance should own it. Arbeau has the best selection of dances: pavan, basse dance, galliards, bransles, and some spectacle dances. He is essentially a provincial bourgeois, and being rather old-fashioned, he is our best source for early, even medieval, styles of dance. Translated by Mary S. Evans, with notes by Julia Sutton. Dover Press, about US$8.
Fabritio Caroso, Nobilta di Dame . Expensive to buy, but very useful, as it includes dances, etiquette (eg., what do you do with your sword when you sit at table), and a splendid historical introduction. As you will have guessed, the author is Italian. Translated by Julia Sutton. Oxford University Press, about US$95.
John Playford, The English Dancing Master . This is heavily relied on in SCA, although not all of the popular dances are in the first edition. Playford, like Arbeau, is essentially a middle-class type. The book is post period, but some of the dances are known to have been popular in the mid to late 1500's. Playford has both round and set dances, of which the former might pass for medieval, the latter being essentially Renaissance. Dance Books, about US$12.
John FitzHugh Millar, Elizabethan Country Dances. This book is basically a compendium selected from the various editions of Playford, and may in fact be more useful than the reprint of the original edition; it also includes very good general notes on English country dancing. Thirteen Colonies Press, 710 South Henry St., Williamsburg, VA 23185, about US$15.
Dr. Ingrid Brainard, The Art of Courtly Dancing in the Early Renaissance. This book is the best modern study on surviving 15th century dances. Available from the author, 37 Princess Rd., West Newton, MA 02165, about US$15.
Bernard Thomas & Jane Gingell, The Renaissance Dance Book. Among the best of all modern guides, the greatest disadvantage is that it covers only a selection of 16th century dance (Italian and Arbeau). It comes with sheet music and an extremely good tape. Kelischek Workshop, RT 1, Box 26, Brasstown, NC 28902, US$45.
P. Pugliese & J. Cassazza, Practice for Dauncinge. This collection of 10 almains and a pavan from the English Inns of Court manuscripts (c. 1570-1670) is a model for works on historical dance. Each dance includes the original text as well as the author's reconstruction, with music and useful historical and choreographic notes. Available from P. Pugliese, 120 Walnut St., Watertown, MA 02172, US$6.
Susan G. Henry, The Rose and Nefr Dance Manual. This is the only good general manual for period dance known to me, though its historical statements are not all beyond dispute. Rose and Nefr Press, 7307 W. Franklin Ave, St Louis Park MN 55426, about US$20 with tapes.
Nonsuch Early Dance Series. A comprehensive series of books with accompanying tapes on periods ranging from medieval to 19th century. The books cost #5##9, the tapes #4##5: the music is reasonably good, and the historical notes quite useful. Ordering information available from Mrs. J. McKay, 97 Queensborough Gardens, Glasgow G12 9RY Scotland.
Nelson Historical Dance Series. A very scholarly series of pamphlets on Italian Renaissance dance -- very approachable to the country dancer. Each costs #3##9. Nelson Historical Dance Society, 126 Railway St., Nelson, Lancashire BB9 9AL England.
Madeleine Inglehearn Series. These include one book on the 15th century basse dance and one of 16th century Italian Renaissance dances: they are extremely clear, include music, and also have accompanying tapes available. Books about #3##4, cassettes #6. They may be ordered from The Companie of Dansers, c/o Ron Blackmore Mgmt, 33a Avenue Rd., Witham, Essex, CM8 2DT England.
Minkoff Press. Produces a priceless (and pricey) series of facsimiles of dance texts in French, including Arbeau. Minkoff Press, 8 rue Eynard, C. P. 1211, Geneva, Switzerland.
Melusine Wood, Historical Dances. One of the classic old sources for period dance, much of it reconstructed. First published in 1952, and not extremely reliable, yet useful to the wary reader. Dance Books, about US$16.
Mabel Dolmetsch, Dances of Spain and Italy from 1400 to 1600 and Dances of England and France 1450-1600. First published in 1949: like Wood these are standard old sources and not to be relied on, although they can be helpful if read critically. Da Capo Press, 233 Spring St., New York, NY 10013, US$25 and US$7, respectively.