Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

Ital-Ren-Dce-art - 8/22/02


"Italian Renaissance Dance for Dummies" by Rosina del Bosco Chiaro (Vivian Stephens). These are the class notes from a class she taught at Pennsic 30.


NOTE: See also the files: dance-msg, ME-dance-msg, dance-par-art, Italy-msg, fd-Italy-msg, 15C-Ital-Dce-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Italian Renaissance Dance for Dummies

                                             Rosina del Bosco Chiaro - Pennsic XXX, AS XXXVI  (August 2001)


This class will cover some of the easier and more popular dances of the Italian Renaissance, but with the figures simplified and footwork minimized in order to allow beginners to take part alongside more experienced dancers.


Although there is no evidence that these dances were simplified this way in period, it is clear that in the 15th-century dances were meant to be ornamented in an improvisational manner if the dancers wished. A dance might be done with one person performing extra footwork, while another one did different ornaments, or none at all.




         A. William Smith. Fifteenth-Century Dance and Music.   Stuvyesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1995.  

         Vivian Stephens & Monica Cellio. Joy and Jealousy: A Manual of 15th-Century Italian Balli.  Pittsburgh: Real Soon  Now Press, 1997.  Most of this is available on the web at: http://sca.uwaterloo.ca/~praetzel/Joy_Jealousy/




         Mesura et Arte del Danzare.  Balli Italiani del Quattrocento.  Accademia Viscontea i Musicanti.  Ducale CDL 002.  Used Anello, Gelosia, Petit Vriens and Voltate in ca Rosina (Rosina.) Also has music for 9 other 15th-C balli.

         Dances by the Marian Ensemble, Heather Dale (Lady Marian of Heatherdale). Used Amoroso and Vita di Cholino, also has Petit Vriens.


Other CDs with music for these dances include:

         Alta Danza, Dance Music from 15th-century Italy, Les Haulz et Les Bas (Alta Cappella) - Christophorus (Heidelberg, Germany): CHR 77208.  Has Amoroso (fast, and no time in the music to turn around in the last section so turn on the last step, before reverence), Gelosia, Voltate in ca Rosina (Rosina - rather fast) and La Vita di Cholino (music is different in the 2nd and 4th verse, but it still works) and many other 15th-century dances.

         Between the Lines, On the Mark, 1996.  Has Petit Riens.

         Forse Che Si, Forse Che No, Ferrara Ensemble.  Fonti Musicali fmd 182.   Has Anello, Gelosia (plays last bit 5 times), Petit Vriens, Voltati in ca Rosina (the intro is over a minute long, but once it actually gets going it does work) and other 15th-century dances.

         La cour du Roi Rene (At the Court of King Rene). Ensemble Perceval, Arion ARN 68104.  Has Gelosia, with the last part played 5 times.

         Music from the time of Richard III, The York Waits. Saydisc CD_SDL 364.  Has Amoroso (very slow, 1st section has 8 rather than 12 pive, all the half bars are filled in, and doesn't repeat the last section each time through the music) and Anello.

         La Musica Italiana del XV Secolo, Sine Nomine.  Quadrivium SCA 040.  Has Amoroso (1st section has 10 rather than 12 pive, all the half bars are filled in, and doesn't repeat the last section each time through the music.)  (The Vida de Colin is the right tune for Vita di  Cholino, but does not have the right structure for the dance.)

         Musica Subterranea, Musica Subterranea, Twelth Century Fox. Has Amoroso (2 versions - both are slow, fill in the half bars and start with only 8 pive, the short version does not repeat the last section), Anello, Gelosia and Petit Rien.

         Return of the Pipers, The Philadelphia Renaissance Wind Band.  Newport Classics NPD 85567.  Has Amoroso (very slow, dance played four times with an extra bar between the 1st and 2nd time and between the 2nd and 3rd, and an extra ten bars of music at the very end, 1st section has 8 rather than 12 pive, all the half bars are filled in, and doesn't repeat the last section each time through the music.)

         SCA Dance Musicke Vol II, The Companions of St. Cecilia, privately produced.  Has Gelosia.



For any further information, please feel free to contact me by email at:  rosina at pathcom.com





Sempio or Single    Step, then close feet (bring other foot beside first, but don't shift weight.)


Doppio or Double   Three steps forward, then close feet.


Piva or Cutting Double        Faster double, putting the second step beside or under the first foot

               i.e. Piva Left = Step forward left, put right foot beside left or under left heel, step on left again.

In Petit Vriens the music is in 6/8, so the doubles are done to match, with the second step shorter and taking less time than the first or third. (The plural of piva is pive.)


Ripresa or Double Sideways               Take two steps to side, e.g. Left, cut under with right, left, close.


Set and Turn          Like in English Country dance - step sideways to the left, then the right, then turn around in a little circle over your left shoulder with 4 steps.


Reverence              Kneel on  left knee (or part of the way down), keeping upper body straight.


Movimento or Attention Getting Device            Rise up on toes - like a jump, but without leaving the ground.



DANCES - (All reconstructions by Rosina del Bosco Chiaro.)


Anello - by Domenico da Piacenza,  at  1450.

Two couples, holding hands, Couple 1 four steps in front of Couple 2.



8 Doubles, starting Left.  On the last, Couple 1 switch places and turn around, as Couple 2 spread out, so 4 dancers end in a wide circle, with alternating genders.

               Switch inside

Men Movimento, then Women Movimento.

Men switch places, passing right shoulders, with 2 Doubles.

Women Movimento, then Men Movimento.         Women switch places, as men did.

               Turn in place

Men Movimento, then Women Movimento.  Men turn in a little circle, taking 4 steps.

Repeat, roles reversed.

               Switch outside

Men switch places, each going behind his partner to the other man's place with 4 Pive.

Women do the same, also going behind her partner (hint: He's moved!).


Men Movimento, then Women Movimento.  Men Movimento, then Women Movimento, again.



Repeat dance, Couple 1 still leading, (Couple 2 wheels in behind them) but Women do everything first.



Petit Riens - anonymous,  at 1470.

For three dancers, Dancer A (on left), Dancer B and Dancer C (on right), holding hands.


16 Pive.

Dancer A 4 Pive,                  Dancer B same to catch up,                 Dancer C same to catch up.

Dancer A Double,                Dancer B same to catch up,                 Dancer C same to catch up.

Dancer A Reverence,           Dancer B same,                                   Dancer C same.

Double backwards, moving away from each other,          Double together.

Set & Turn


Variations:  There are a lot of variations in the reverence section. The most common is for A+B to reverence together, then B+C reverence, then all 3 reverence)



Amoroso - anonymous,  at  1470      

For one couple, side by side, holding hands, Woman on the right.


                Section I = Entrance

12 Pive, starting on Left foot.              (Some music may have 8 instead.)

                Section II = Sequence A

Man Step Left, Step Right, Piva Left, Step Right, Step Left, Step Right.        (Some music has time for a pause.)

Woman same to catch up.

                Section III = Sequence B

Man Piva Left, Piva Right, Piva Left, Step Right.             (Some music has time for a pause.)

Woman same to catch up.

                Section IV = Sequence A + Reverence + Sequence B

Man Sequence A (2 steps, piva, 3 steps) and pivot to face Woman,

Both Reverenza Left, facing each other.

Man Sequence B (3 pive and a step), rejoining Woman, and turning to face up the hall.

               (End side by side, facing up the hall.)

Repeat, Woman leaving and returning as Man did.           (Some msuic does not have this repeat.)

               (End as started dance, side by side, facing up the hall, Woman on the right.)


Repeat the dance, Woman doing everything first this time.


Variations:  There is considerable diversity in the recordings available, which has led to a proliferation of versions of this dance.  One common difference is for the dance to be played very slowly, instead of in a fast, piva, speed.  The entrance may have 8 or 10 pive instead of 12.  At the end of both Sequence A and Sequence B there may be an extra half bar of music or not. Section IV is not repeated in some versions, so for these the man does this part for the first repeat of the dance, and the woman for the second.



Gelosia, by Domenico da Piacenza,   at  1450.

For three couples, one behind the other.



8 Doubles.                            (Some music may have 4 or 6 instead.)

               Men swap partners

Man 1 does 3 Pive clockwise 2/3rds of way around Woman 1, and a fast Reverence to Woman 2.

Man 2 Double to join Woman 1.

Man 1 does 3 Pive, counterclockwise (i.e. he starts going in front of her) partly around Woman 2 stopping with a fast Reverence when he reaches the right hand side of Woman 3.

Man 3 Double to join Woman 2.

Man 1 Double behind Woman 3, ending at her left.


8 Pive

               Greet new partner (promising eternal faithfulness optional)

Each Man in turn does a Reverence to his partner.

               Dance with new partner

Take Right hands with partner, and circle with 3 Singles. Switch hands, and circle with 3 more Singles.


Repeat dance twice more, until each man returns to his starting place.


Variations:           The reverences in the second to last section are sometimes replaced with some sort of turn around.  Give your partner plenty of room, and they should be able to spin to their heart's content, while you watch them, or reverence, politely.

               The last section may be played 3 or 5 times, instead of the 2 times that this reconstruction fits.



Vita di Cholino, by Giovannino,  at  1500.

Man 1 on left, Woman in middle, Man 2 on right, holding hands, facing up the hall.


Verse 1  Reverence

               Single Left, Single Right:  Men backwards, Woman forward and she turns around at end.

               Ripresa Left, Ripresa Right.

               (Men are facing up the hall and Woman is facing down, in a triangle.)

Chorus  Woman and the man to her right (Man 1 this time) Reverence.

               Woman and the man to her left (Man 2 this time) Reverence.

               Turn clockwise in a complete circle with a Double


Verse 2  Woman and Man 1 take right hands and circle each other with 2 Doubles.

               Woman and Man 2 do the same, with left hands.

Chorus  As before.


Verse 3  2 Doubles forward, and turn to face.  (Triangle has inverted.)

               Ripresa Left, Ripresa Right.

Chorus   For this chorus, Man 2 will Reverence first.


Verse 4  3 Doubles Left, Right, Left zigzagging, and turn to face. (Triangle has inverted.)

               Doppio Right, coming together.

Chorus  For this chorus, touch hands while reverencing.


Verse 5  8 Pive, starting on Left foot, doing a Hey, Woman and Man 1 start by passing right shoulders.

               (The dancers are in a small triangle, Men facing up the hall, Woman down.)

Chorus  Woman and Man 1 Reverence.

               Woman and Man 2 Reverence.

               Woman turns in a circle with a Double, as before,                          

but         Men Double to come beside her, turn to face same way.


(Dancers end side by side, facing down the hall, Man 2 on the left and Woman in the middle.)



Rosina's version of the dance Rosina, also known of as Voltati in ca Rosina, by Guglielmo,  at  1470

For three people, two Sides and one Center.


                Section I

2 Doubles forward, then pivot and 2 Doubles returning ot where started, and pivot.

Center Single Left, Single Right, Double Left,

Sides Single Right, Single Left, Double Right, and          Center pivots at end.

                Section II

2 Doubles forward, then pivot and do Ripresa Left, Ripresa Right.

"Chorus" = Doppio Left in CCW half circle, pivot on Left, Ripresa Right.  4 Continenze starting Left.

                Section III

Single Left, Single Right, Double Left, coming together, Double Right back, Reverence.


                Section IV

Center and Side to Center's right take right hands and circle each other with 4 Pive, starting Left.

Center and Other Side take Left hands, and circle each other with 4 Pive, starting Left.

Hey done with 8 Pive, starting Left, Center and Side 2 starting by passing right shoulders.  (Center ends between Sides, and turns to face down the hall, so all facing opposite way started dance.)


Repeat dance, Sides changing roles (the only difference being in Section IV).



Copyright 2001 by Vivian Stephens. <rosina at pathcom.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org