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1.4: Sources

The best bibliography of sources for Renaissance dance is the list edited by Dennis Sherman for the RENDANCE mailing list. The list here only a small subset of interesting sources, and those sources referred to in the cheat sheets.

Primary Sources

Arbeau, Thoinot. Orchesography (1589 and 1596). In French. Available in a variety of facsimile editions. The Dover edition is a very inexpensive and easily readable English translation, edited by Julia Sutton. The facsimile (in French) is available on-line.

Caroso, Marco Fabritio. Nobilta Di Dame (1600). In Italian. A refinement of Il Ballarino. An English translation, edited by Julia Sutton, is out of print in hardback, but can occasionally be found for around $90. It's been reprinted in paperback, entitled Courtly Dance of the Renaissance, ISBN 0-486-28-619-3, $14.95.

Caroso, Marco Fabritio. Il Ballarino (1581). In Italian. Available in facsimile but not translation. There is currently a project (called the ``Caroso Conspiracy'') which is engaged in transcribing and translating this source.

Playford, John. The English Dancing Master, 1651. A facsimile of this work is available from the Country Dance and Song Society and other sources.

Secondary Sources

Brainard, Ingrid. The Art of Courtly Dancing in the Early Renaissance. Privately printed, 1989. Available from the author (Ingrid Brainard, 37 Princess Road, West Newton, MA 02165, USA). Covers 15th century dances. Was $15 a few years ago.

Clark, Alexander. Court & Country Dances of the Renaissance in England and France. Privately printed, 1994. Sold by the author at various SCA events for $11, might be available via mail: Alexander Clark, 105 Fairbrook Drive, Penna. Furnace, PA 16865.

Cunningham, J. P. ``The Country Dance - Early References,'' Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, v9 #3, December 1962, pp. 148-154.

Durham, Peter and Janelle. Dances from the Inns of Court, London 1570-1675. Privately published, 1998. Also available on-line. There are also articles by Wilson and Cunningham on these dances.

Keller, Kate V.W., and Shimer, Genevieve, The Playford Ball: 103 Early Country Dances 1651-1820, As Interpreted by Cecil Sharp and His Followers. A Capella Books & CDSS 1990. ISBN 1-55652-091-3. [TPB]

Thomas, Bernard and Gingell, Jane. The Renaissance Dance Book: Dances from the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries. London: London Pro Musica 1987. (expensive) Sheet music and a tape available.

Stephens, Vivian and Cellio, Monica. Joy and Jealousy. Self-published, 1997. Covers 15th century Italian balli. Includes a tape of synthesized music. Available from: Monica Cellio, 7634 Westmoreland Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15218.

The Letter of Dance. An SCA publication about period dance. Available from the editor at: Bill Street, 908 Redwood Lane, Birmingham AL 35235. Printed quarterly. Back-issues are available on paper and also on-line.


Il Ballarino: The Art of Renaissance Dance, 1990, directed by Julia Sutton and Johannes Holub, narrated by Julia Sutton. Dance Horizons Video, Princeton Book Company, PO Box 57, Pennington, NJ 08534. Videocassette (VHS), 33min. ISBN 0-87127-170-2, $39.95. Only covers Caroso's dances.

Le Gratie D'amore, European Court Dance of the Late Renaissance, Filmocentro; Taller de Danzas Antiguas, y Charles Garth y Elizabeth Aldrich. New York: Historical Dance Foundation, 1992 (spanish with english subtitles). HDF's phone # is (212) 255-5545. Includes pavannes, bransles, galliards, and balli. 30 minutes; costs $29.95 plus $3 shipping in the US: Historical Dance Foundation / Charles Garth, 31 Union Square West, Suite 15D, New York NY 10003.


This discography is a subset of Andrew Draskoy's document in the RENDANCE archive:

Danses Popularies Francaises, The Broadside Band, Harmonica Mundi, CD HMC 901152. Everything from Arbeau, some first edition Playford.

Airs Populaires Anglais, The Broadside Band, Harmonica Mundi, CD HMA 1901039. Playford tunes, not all dancable.

Country Capers, The New York Renaissance Band, Arabesque, CD DIDX92. English Country dances.

Orchesographie, The New York Renaissance Band. Arbeau.

Electronic Resources

The RENDANCE e-mail list. For details, see the RENDANCE homepage, or email with the following line in the body of the message:

subscribe rendance Your Name

substituting your own name.

The sca-dance email list. To subscribe, write This address reaches a human, so just say that you'd like to be added to the mailing list.

A comprehensive annotated bibliography of Renaissance dance references:

The Letter of Dance Online Archive.

The Rendance mailing list archive & homepage:

The SCA Music and Dance Homepage:

Many of the primary sources above are now available online in facsimile or transcription. These are listed on the above webpages.