[ This article appeared in volume 3 of the Letter of Dance. ]
by Fiammetta di Antonio di Donato Adimari
Anello is a ballo from the 15th century Italian repertoire. It is described in the manual by Domenico di Piacenza, from c. 1450, and in two of the manuals by his student, Guglielmo Ebreo, one from 1463 and the other otherwise undated, but written after Ebreo had changed his name to Iohannis Ambrosio.
Anello is a good dance for introducing people to the fifteenth-century Italian repertoire, since it only requires the salterello and piva steps. (The double step occurs once for a turn, but could easily be replaced with a simple turn around in three steps.) The figures are fairly simple as well; it does not require an exorbitant amount of memorization. The figures should also appeal to a dance group whose primary experience is with English Country.
The two Ebreo texts to all intents describe the identical dance. The Domenico text varies from them in a few places. In my reconstruction, I have chosen to follow the Domenico text, since I prefer it and it fits better to the music I have been using. The reconstruction is reasonably faithful to the text, but there are places where I have included my own interpretation to clarify points that I felt were unclear in the originals. That's why the translations are included.
The steps described below are descendants of those reconstructed and taught by Dr. Ingrid Brainard. Step descriptions in the Italian 15th century sources are sketchy at best; this is a subject ripe for reconstruction. Here, then, with little attempt at justification, are the steps I use. I've given the "standard" number of beats for each step, which is the way they appear in this dance; they may well appear in other dances and need to be stuffed or stretched to fit a different number of beats. (We often see salterelli and pive in three beats, and doubles in four.)
Salterello: This step takes four beats. (Note that, in the sources, salterello refers to a kind of measure or music as much as it does to a step.) The name comes from the Italian word "salto," meaning "jump." It does appear from the sources that the step ought to alternate steps; that is, if you do the step beginning with the left foot, the right foot should be free to begin the next salterello. Here, then, is a salterello left:
Beat 1: step on the left foot
Beat 2: hop on the left foot, with the right leg raised into the air. The upper leg is almost parallel to the ground, with the lower leg hanging down, perpendicular to the ground. This hop does not travel; it is simply a hop up on the left foot, landing on the left in place.
Beat 3: step on the right foot
Beat 4: step on the left foot
As advertised, this leaves the right foot free to begin the second salterello, which is identical to the first simply switching the feet: step right, hop on the right, step left, step right. This feels best to me as a "light" step; this repertoire seems designed for flirting-type games, and I like the steps to reflect that.
Ripresa: This step takes up one measure, and is simply a step sideways followed by a close. For a ripresa left, the left foot steps to the left and then the right foot closes to it; the feet and direction switch for a ripresa right.
Movimento: The means simply "little movement." In some of the sources, it is replaced with "saltetto," meaning "little jump." We do it in half a measure, so men movimento and then women movimento takes a full measure, and generally do simply a little rise onto the balls of the toes of perhaps a slight jump. This may be a place to show off a little, or to flirt.
Piva: This is a quick step in four beats. Like the salterello (and all of the traveling steps in this repertoire, for that matter), it ought to change feet. A piva left is:
Beat 1: step down on the left foot (i.e., with slightly bended front knee)
Beat 2: hold
Beat 3: step onto the right foot on the ball of the toe
Beat 4: step onto the left foot on the ball of the toe
You are then ready to begin a piva right, which is the same step with the feet switched. (Note that the piva is not always in 4 beats, but in this dance it is.) Like the salterello, this is a light step.
Double: This is a three-beat step. A double left is
Beat 1: step down on the left foot, bending the left knee slightly
Beat 2: step up on the balls of the right foot
Beat 3: step flat onto the left foot
The "up" step is more important to the look of the dance than the "down," and should preferably be the stressed step.
The most important thing to remember about all of these steps is to try to keep them flowing into one another. These dances are light, playful things; they do not have the gravity of a pavanne, and would not benefit from stately, measured steps.
Anello begins with two couples, one in front of the other, holding hands with the women on the right of the man. (The treatises never specify starting positions for these dances. I tend to start them in "ordinary" position; other people have reconstructed this dance differently. The back couple improper is a fairly minor change, which only changes the floor pattern in figure one. I've also heard of a reconstruction in which the dancers all start in a line; I'm not sure how this one works.) The couples should be about four paces apart. Throughout this description, first man and first woman will refer to the people who are in the front now, even though they will change positions.
The dance begins with eight measures of salterello music. The dances do seven salterelli forward, beginning with the left foot. On the eighth measure they halt, drop hands, and the first couple turns around individually to face the second couple. The dancers should now be standing on the corners of a square.
Next the two men do a movimento together, after which the women respond to them, doing another movimento. Then the men change places with two salterello steps, beginning with the left foot, and end up still facing one another. This exchange should be fairly rounded; each man traces out half the path of an oval, rather than directly forward and then turning abruptly at the end. They should pass right shoulders, so each begins by moving to his left. Then the women do a movimento together, the men respond to them by doing another movimento. Now the women change places exactly as the men did, taking two salterelli beginning with the left foot to pass right shoulders and end up facing one anther. Note that now the first couple and second couple have exchanged places.
Now the men do a movimento and the women respond to them by doing another.(1) The men then turn over their left shoulder(2) with a double step on the left foot, and end up facing as they had when the started. Now the women do a movimento, the men respond with another,(3) and the women turn over their left shoulder with a double step.
The men now have four piva steps to return to their original places. Rather than simply exchange places, they start by going to the outside of their partners and behind them, in two piva steps. They then circle to the inside of their partners, cross over in the middle of the set with the first man crossing in front of the second step, and return to their original position, exchanging places yet again. (See figure 1 for an illustration of this figure.) The women now have four piva steps in which to exchange places in exactly the same manner that the men did. Again note that, at the cross in the center, the first woman should pass in front of the second woman; if there is not agreed on in advance, the dancers are likely to run into one another at this point.
woman respond with another. The men then do a ripresa right to take the hand of their partner; during this ripresa, the first man and woman each turn around to face in the direction they were at the beginning.(4) The dance then either ends or repeats.(5) If you repeat it, it is a reasonable variation to have the women go first the second time through; that is, every place that the men did something and the women then copied them, have the women do the figure first and the men then copy them.(6) In short:
|1-7||Salterello steps forward|
|8||Halt & drop hands; first couple turns around individually|
|Women the same|
|10-11||Men change places with two salterello steps|
|Men the same|
|13-14||Women change places with two salterello steps|
|Women the same|
|16||Men turn around over left shoulder|
|Men the same|
|18||Women turn over left shoulder|
|19-20||Men go behind partner, cross and exchange places in four piva steps|
|21-22||Women the same|
|Women the same|
|Women the same|
|25||First man & woman turn around while men ripresa right, couples take hands.|
The dance then may repeat, with the option to have the women going first the second time through.
[You can also download a version in pdf or postscript.]
I worked up these translations; there are a couple places where I was either not sure of a decent translation or could not read the original, but the meaning should be clear.
Domenico: Anello has two men and two women. To begin, the said men and women "moti" eight of saltarello in piva measures. They go with their feet the distance of four steps apart. "Ein co" of these tempi the men let go of the women and they remain in the shape of a square, that is to say each one looks at the other. The women halt similarly. Note that both of the men together do a movimento and the women respond to them with another. Then the men go, one to the other, doing two tempi of saltarello beginning with the left foot and ending on the right, with a half turn on the right foot. They find themselves having changed places, and halt. Then the women do a movimento and the men respond to them with another. Then the aforesaid women exchange places in the way that the men did, and halt. Next note that the men do a movimento and the women respond to them with another. Then the men give a turn around in place consisting of a double and halt. The women do a movimento and the men respond with another, and the women do the same turn which the men had done and halt. Now note that the men do four tempi of piva, moving to the right side and going behind the women and exchanging places and then halting, and the women respond to them with the same exchange of places, and then halt. Now not that the men do a movimento and the women respond to them with another; the men to yet another movimento, and the women respond with another. The said men do a ripresa on the right side, take their women by the hand as at the beginning, and they end.
Ebreo: Ballo called Anello for four by Messer Domenico-- Begin with eight tempi of salterello beginning with the left foot and ending on the right, and in the last tempo, that is to say having done seven, the men drop the hands of the women and remain in a square, that is to say the men facing one another, and the women do the same, and they halt. Next the men do a movimento and the women respond to them. Then the men [exchange places?] with two tempi of salterello beginning with the left foot and going to the right side to encounter one another, and then they find themselves in a square. Next the women do a movimento and the men respond to them, and then they exchange places in the same manner that the men had, and then they find themselves in a square. Then all together they do a movimento. Next the men do a turn around turning to the left side. Then the women do the same, and they halt. Next the men leave and go to the right of their companion with four tempi of piva, leaving on the left and ending on the right, exchanging places and finding themselves again in a square. Then the women do the same, and they all find themselves in their places. Next the men do a movimento and the women respond. This is done two times.
Ambrosio: Ball called Anello for 4: To begin eight tempi of salterello beginning with the left foot and ending on the right & on the last tempo that is to say having done the seventh the men drop the hands of the women and remain in a square, that is to say the men facing one another and the women do the same and they halt. Now the men do a movimento and the women respond to them. Then the men exchange places with two tempi of salterello beginning with the left foot and give a half turn to the right, coming together the one to the other and then they find themselves in a square. Next the women do a movimento and the men respond to them. Then they exchange places in the same [manner] which the men did and then they find themselves in a square and then all together they do a movimento. Next the men do a turn around on the [?] side and then the women do the same and they halt. Next the men leave and go behind their companions with four tempi of piva leaving on the left and ending on the right exchanging their places and finding themselves again in a square. Then the women do the same and they all find themselves in their place. Now the men do a movimento and the women respond to them. This is done two times.
Domenico: De arte saltandi & choreas ducendi (c. 1450). Ms. in Paris, Biblioth`eque Nationale (fonds it. 972). Pulished by Dante Bianchi. "Un tratto inedito di Domenico da Piacenza." La Bibliofilia. Florence. Anno 65 (1963), pp. 109-149.
Ebreo: Guglielmi Hebraei pisauriensis de pratica seu arte tipudii vulgare opusculum (1463). Ms. (by the amanuensis Paganus Raudensis) in Paris, Biblioth`eque Nationale (fonds it. 973). Unpublished.
Ebreo2: Guglielmo Ebreo. Tratto della danza composto da Maestro Gugliemo ed in part cavato dell'opera di Maestro Domenico, Cavagliere Piacentino (n.d.). Ms. in Siena, Biblioteca COmunale (Codex V. 29). Published, with omission of some passages, by Curzio Mazzi. "Una sconosciuta complazione di un libro quattrocentistico di balli." La Bibliofilia. Florence: Anno 16(1915), pp. 185-209.
Ambrosio: Guglielmo Ebreo (G. Ambrosio). Domini Iohannis Ambrosii Pisauriensis de Pratica seu arte Tripudii Vulgare Opusculum. Ms. in Paris Biblioth`eque Nationale (fonds it. 476). Unpublished.
[Joseph Casazza wrote this letter to Fiammetta, regarding open questions in her article on Anello, in issue 19. She suggested that he send it to the newsletter - Ed.]
I have just read your article on Anello in The Letter of Dance. Thank you for your work reconstructing this dance. I just wanted to pass on to you a few ideas on the translations. To start with the simplest, in the translation of Ebreo (BN fds. it. 973) you had a question about the translation "exchange places." I think this is certain, the text probably reading "si scambino" (although it is difficult to decipher in the photocopy I have). In the Ambrosio (BN fds. it. 476) translation you indicate a question about the side on which the men do their turn before going off in four tempi of piva. The text, though abbreviated, is clearly "dal lato mancho", "from the left side." At the beginning of the Domenico (BN fds. it. 972) translation, it appears some things have been omitted. Domenico's "Mprima fano diti homini edone moti oto di saltarelo..." should be rendered "First, the said men and women do eight 'movements' of saltarello..." Next, Domenico's "andagando in ciope doe large luna dalaltra per spacio de pasi quatro" would be rendered "going in two couples ("ciope", elsewhere written "chiope" (in Mercantia and Sobria, for example) or "chopie" (in Tesara) by Domenico, is modern Italian "coppie") four paces apart from one another." Finally, the start of the next instruction "e in co. de diti tenpi" is a bit of a puzzle, but is likely to be something like "e in conclusione de diti tenpi", "and at the end of the said measures." Much success with further reconstructions!
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
1 This is the way the way that Domenico describes this bit; Ebreo has all four dancers do the movimeto simultaneously.
2 Here, Domenico does not describe the direction of the turn, but Ebreo does.
3 Here, again, Ebreo has all four do a movimento simultaneously.
4 Again, Ebreo describes this figure differently; he simply has the men do a movimento and the women respond with another.
5 Domico ends the dance here, Ebreo specifies a repeat.
6 While this exchange of roles does not appear in any of the texts that describe Anello, another Ebreo text [Ebreo2] specifies that every time a dance is repeated, as almost all of them are, the women go first the second time through. I find this to be a very appealing variation.
Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir (Greg Lindahl) (firstname.lastname@example.org)