Letter: The Quadran's Purpose?

[ This article appeared in volume 2 of the Letter of Dance. ]

from Mara Kolarova

I think I've figured out what the Quadran Pavane is for.

The Quadran Pavane is a very simple pattern described in the Inns of Court manuscripts. It doesn't go anywhere -- just 2 sideways singles left, forward a double left, 2 sideways singles right, back a double right. (Earlier this century, Mabel Dolmetsch looked at that description and wrote down "The Earl of Salisbury Pavane" as a reconstruction. Wow.) Pavanes are processional dances; why have a processional that doesn't go anywhere?

Well, the gentlemen of the Inns of Court devoted a fair amount of energy to putting on masques. I think the Quadran Pavane is for when the stage directions of your masque call for a grand procession, and you don't have any room. Because it is a pavane, your audience understands that all those people in a column of couples, dancing gracefully but not actually going anywhere, are actually in a procession. When the music stops, the procession has arrived.

I don't have any evidence for this - it's an educated guess.

Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir (Greg Lindahl) (lindahl@pbm.com)