The Lorayne Alman

[ This article appeared in volume 3 of the Letter of Dance. ]

by Justin du Coeur

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Inns of Court (the bodies of professional lawyers in London) held annual wintertime festivities, including a variety of songs and dances. These dances were relatively formalized, and a standard core of almans, pavans, and such survived a wide span of years with surprisingly little change. There are six extant manuscripts that note (albeit with little detail) the form of many of these dances.

The Lorayne Allemayne is found only in the earliest of the manuscripts, believed to date to roughly 1570. [Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson Poet. 108] It is a fairly simple dance, although the presence of only one source makes reconstruction a little trickier than with some of the other dances of this style.

The Original

(from Rawl. fol. 10r, line 15) [transcription from Wilson, pg. 3]

lorayne Allemayne

A duble forward hoppe iiij times//a duble
Forwarde reprynce backe a duble forward cast
off a duble rownd twyse//a duble forward
hoppe viii tymes//a duble forward reprynce
backe a duble forward cast of a duble rownd

The Steps

The Inns of Court MSS. are, unfortunately, quite scant on information about exactly what the step names mean. There has been much discussion over the years about possible steps, mostly drawn from "Almans" from other countries. [For a fuller discussion, see Practise for Dauncinge, pp. 2-7.] I favor the "French style" of double step, drawn from Arbeau: [Arbeau, pp. 109-111]

double left: step forward with your left foot, then your right, then your left, one step per beat; on the fourth beat, raise your right foot a few inches off the ground, in front of you. (This should not be a high-kick, just a small raising of the foot.)

double right: same, reversing left and right.

Since the initial steps are described as "hoppe"d, you should make a small hop while you raise the leg at the end of each double. I only hop during the processional section, not during the chorus, but one could argue that all the steps might be hopped. Just make sure that you and your partner are doing the same thing.

The "reprynce" in the chorus is a bit of a problem -- we don't know exactly what this is supposed to be. Wilson suggests [Wilson, pp. 14] that it may be a double with a hop on the first step. I find this a little awkward, so I choose to interpret it as Patri does, as simply a double step going backwards.


(Note that by "measure", I am referring mainly to the time of the dance; a "measure" is the time it takes to do one double step. Depending on your music, this may correspond to multiple measures of music.)

Form a processional line of couples, with partners in the usual position (gentlemen on the left, ladies on the right), all facing forward.

1Double forward left, hopping at the end
2Double right hopping
3Double left hopping
4Double right hopping
5Double forward left
6Double back right
7Double forward left
8Double right, turning away from your partner and all the way around to face forward again
9-12Repeat 5-8
13-20Repeat 1-4 twice
21-28Repeat 5-12

Music for Lorayne Alman


This dance has one particular oddity, namely the number of times that you do the doubles in the second processional part. Cunningham read the second procession as "a Duble forward hoppe 4 times" [Cunningham, pp. 23]; however, Wilson, reading more carefully, reads it as 8 times. Having taken a look at a facsimile, I have to concur that although it isn't perfectly clear, 8 appears to be more likely. It is possible that this was an error in the original, as it is fairly unusual for the length of the second repeat to vary from the first in this repertoire; however, we should generally be leery of assuming errors in primary sources unless we have excellent reason to believe it.

Assuming that the original really means 8, we wind up with the first and second verses being different lengths. If you have live music, you may be able to deal with this by simply repeating the verse the second time, so that it is eight measures long. If not, and your music only allows time for four doubles on each verse, I would suggest simply doing it that way, and not worrying about it too much -- it is still true to the spirit of the original, if slightly different from the letter. (If your music has eight doubles per verse, then simply use the first four measures at the beginning to get acquainted with your partner.)


My thanks to Lord Miklos Sandorfia, who provided me with the transcriptions of the manuscripts, and to Baron Patri du Chat Gris, who provided me with the facsimiles, and from whose previous reconstuction this one is largely drawn.


Cunningham, James P., Dancing in the Inns of Court, Jordan & Sons, Ltd., London, 1965

Wilson, D. R., "Dancing in the Inns of Court", Historical Dance Vol. 2, No. 5, 1986/7., pp. 3-16

Pugliese, Patri & Casazza, Joseph, Practise for Dauncinge, privately published, Cambridge, MA, 1980

Arbeau, Thoinot, Orchesography, Langres, 1588, translated by Cyril Beaumont, Dance Horizons, Inc, NY, 1925

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