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Medieval Dance

Medieval life and Times

Medieval Dance
Medieval dance music dates from the early Medieval period. The Medieval dance can be categorised into two sections: court dance and country dance. There are strictly national dances still in existence which are quite peculiar to the country and those in Great Britain may be traced back to the dances and games of the Saxon gleemen.

May Pole Dancing

Medieval Dances - The Carole Dance
The Carole was one of the earliest Saxon Medieval dances. The Carole was a Yule-tide festivity, of which the present-day Christmas carols are a remnant. The carole was the most popular dance which could be danced in a circle, in a chain, or as a processional.

Medieval Dances - The Egg Dance
The Egg dance was one of the earliest Saxon Medieval dances and, like the Carole, was performed during a period of festivity namely the Easter-tide festivities. The  egg dance was derived from a traditional Easter game, in the egg dance eggs were laid on the ground or floor and the goal was to dance among them damaging as few eggs as possible.

Medieval Dances - The Morris Dance
The oldest dances which remain unchanged in England are the Morris dances, which were introduced in the time of Edward III. The name Morris or Moorish refers to the origin of these dances, which are said to have been brought back by John of Gaunt from his travels in Spain. The Morris Medieval dances are associated with May-day, and are danced round a maypole to a lively and capering step, some of the performers having bells fastened to their knees in the Moorish manner. The Medieval Morris dancers originally dressed as characters of old English tradition, such as Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, Little John and Tom the Piper. The sticks carried by Morris Dancers represented swords. Also see May Pole Dancing.

Medieval Dances - The Quadrille
The Quadrille is of some antiquity, and a dance of this kind was first brought to England from Normandy by William the Conqueror, and was common all over Europe during the Medieval period. The Quadrille was a square dance of 5 or more figures for 4 or more couples.

Medieval Dances - The Jig
The Jig was the name used to describe any of various old rustic Medieval dances involving skipping,  kicking and leaping. Music was played in in three-four time for dancing a jig. The Jig was particularly popular in Ireland.

Medieval Dances - The Country Dances
Medieval Country dances were a type of folk dance in which couples are arranged in sets or face one another in a line. The Landler was a moderately slow country dance in triple time involving spinning and clapping which originated in Austria. A contra-dance, also called the Longways dance was a country dance in which the partners are arranged face to face, or in opposite lines. The danses hautes or baladines had a skipping step, and were practised only by clowns and country people.

Medieval Dances - Scottish Dances
The national dances of Scotland included the reels, strathspeys and flings. The reel was a lively dance of Scottish highlanders; marked by circular moves and gliding steps. The Strath"spey` is so called from the district of Strath Spey in Scotland. The Strathspey is a lively Scottish dance, resembling the reel, but slower. A Highland Fling is a vigorous Scottish reel.

Medieval Dances - Ballet
The modern ballet seems to have been first produced on a considerable scale in 1489 at Tortona, before Duke Galeazzo of Milan. It soon became a common amusement on great occasions at the European courts. The ordinary length was five acts, each containing several entrées, and each entrée containing several quadrilles.

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