More Historical Dancesby Melusine Wood

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  • More Historical Dances by Melusine WoodReview by: G. R.Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Vol. 8, No. 1 (1956), p. 54Published by: English Folk Dance + Song SocietyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4521527 .Accessed: 21/06/2014 00:36

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  • that Mr. Foster will give us another suite containing arrangements of sueh gems as 'Dick's Maggot' 'Shepherd's Daughter', and 'Epsom New Wells', to mention three at random.

    The suite is happily scored as a self-contained work for string quartet, and piano, simple and easy enough for an amateur combination, with the addition of optional woodwind and/or contrabass any of which instruments would brighten and vary the general effect. Many Districts fortunate enough to possess the required players will have this short work as a "bonne bouche" for their festival, folk music concert or seasonal ball. E. de J.

    MoreHistorical Dances. By Melusine Wood. London, Beaumont, 1956. 2 2s.

    This new book by Miss Wood is a continuation of her previous study, Some Historical Dances (reviewed in JEFDSS, Vol. VII, No. 1, 1952). The present volume is more concerned with technical matters and less with historical background. Indeed it is primarily a dance manual and it is taken for granted that the reader accepts Miss Wood's descriptions, which, needless to say, are based on her own widely ranging studies of the subject. The book gives full details of the steps employed in the dances selected for the elementary and the intermediate syllabus of the Historical Dance Branch of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Incorporated. There are also notes on deportment from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. (It is interesting to find that in the 16th century ladies could invite gentlemen to dance as often as gentlemen could invite ladies.) A valuable feature is the table of dates from 1216 to 1887 showing important events in dance history in Western European countries.

    The present volume starts with dance steps and types according to the system of Domenico of Piacenza, who wrote the first Italian dance treatise in 1416. The system given is based on the teachings of his pupil Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro with additional evidence from Antonio Cornazzano. The forms or Measures described are Basse Dance, Quadernaria, Saltarello and Piva. Then comes a description of Balli and Balletti, which are dances of mixed rhythms and Measures. Incidentally it is worth noting that practically all terms like Balli, Carole and Estampie can have many meanings in the Middle Ages and Renaissance from the very general to the most particular.

    For the 1 6th century Caroso and Negri are the Italian authorities more or less contemporary with Arbeau. It is noteworthy that the popular Renaissance concept of Manner now becomes in the dance sense pavoneggiarse, to strut, confirming the impression that the word Pavane is derived from this source, though in the earliest prints we find the word Paduana as well.

    In the 17th century a completely new style of dancing was developed from the old one, and move- ment of the knee was avoided as much as possible. Moreover, the dancing master controlled not only dance deportment but ordinary walking. The Branle became more and more stylised and De Lauze considered it suitable only for the ladies. The Branle a Mener de Poitou is interesting in that it led to the Minuet and Miss Wood exemplifies the development in a comparative table of steps and figures. There is also a useful comparison of 'The Honours Before Dancing' as described by De Lauze and Rameau in 1623 and 1725 respectively.

    Finally, and not least valuable, the discussion of the English Country dance. It certainly could not have been new at the time of Playford and the first mention of it occurs a hundred years earlier. It seems to have close connections with the medieval Carole, and was apparently taken over by the upper classes in the 16th century. Apart from the threading-the-needle figure, the combination of chain and round seems to me to show strong medieval influence. Miss Wood follows up the dance through three periods into the 18th century, clearing up the problems introduced by the French Contredanse, which was by no means the same as our Country dance.

    I regret that there is no book on historical dances which is a really erudite discussion with full references to original treatises. It is to Miss Wood's credit that she has provided us with a down-to- earth presentation of a number of dances. But I miss the evidence usually given in footnotes. Admittedly this is a dance manual and not an armchair disquisition, but, if we are not to put the cart before the horse, we need the severely objective study first. Nevertheless one must be thanlcful for teachers of Miss Wood's calibre who combine practice with individual research. G.R.

    that Mr. Foster will give us another suite containing arrangements of sueh gems as 'Dick's Maggot' 'Shepherd's Daughter', and 'Epsom New Wells', to mention three at random.

    The suite is happily scored as a self-contained work for string quartet, and piano, simple and easy enough for an amateur combination, with the addition of optional woodwind and/or contrabass any of which instruments would brighten and vary the general effect. Many Districts fortunate enough to possess the required players will have this short work as a "bonne bouche" for their festival, folk music concert or seasonal ball. E. de J.

    MoreHistorical Dances. By Melusine Wood. London, Beaumont, 1956. 2 2s.

    This new book by Miss Wood is a continuation of her previous study, Some Historical Dances (reviewed in JEFDSS, Vol. VII, No. 1, 1952). The present volume is more concerned with technical matters and less with historical background. Indeed it is primarily a dance manual and it is taken for granted that the reader accepts Miss Wood's descriptions, which, needless to say, are based on her own widely ranging studies of the subject. The book gives full details of the steps employed in the dances selected for the elementary and the intermediate syllabus of the Historical Dance Branch of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Incorporated. There are also notes on deportment from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. (It is interesting to find that in the 16th century ladies could invite gentlemen to dance as often as gentlemen could invite ladies.) A valuable feature is the table of dates from 1216 to 1887 showing important events in dance history in Western European countries.

    The present volume starts with dance steps and types according to the system of Domenico of Piacenza, who wrote the first Italian dance treatise in 1416. The system given is based on the teachings of his pupil Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro with additional evidence from Antonio Cornazzano. The forms or Measures described are Basse Dance, Quadernaria, Saltarello and Piva. Then comes a description of Balli and Balletti, which are dances of mixed rhythms and Measures. Incidentally it is worth noting that practically all terms like Balli, Carole and Estampie can have many meanings in the Middle Ages and Renaissance from the very general to the most particular.

    For the 1 6th century Caroso and Negri are the Italian authorities more or less contemporary with Arbeau. It is noteworthy that the popular Renaissance concept of Manner now becomes in the dance sense pavoneggiarse, to strut, confirming the impression that the word Pavane is derived from this source, though in the earliest prints we find the word Paduana as well.

    In the 17th century a completely new style of dancing was developed from the old one, and move- ment of the knee was avoided as much as possible. Moreover, the dancing master controlled not only dance deportment but ordinary walking. The Branle became more and more stylised and De Lauze considered it suitable only for the ladies. The Branle a Mener de Poitou is interesting in that it led to the Minuet and Miss Wood exemplifies the development in a comparative table of steps and figures. There is also a useful comparison of 'The Honours Before Dancing' as described by De Lauze and Rameau in 1623 and 1725 respectively.

    Finally, and not least valuable, the discussion of the English Country dance. It certainly could not have been new at the time of Playford and the first mention of it occurs a hundred years earlier. It seems to have close connections with the medieval Carole, and was apparently taken over by the upper classes in the 16th century. Apart from the threading-the-needle figure, the combination of chain and round seems to me to show strong medieval influence. Miss Wood follows up the dance through three periods into the 18th century, clearing up the problems introduced by the French Contredanse, which was by no means the same as our Country dance.

    I regret that there is no book on historical dances which is a really erudite discussion with full references to original treatises. It is to Miss Wood's credit that she has provided us with a down-to- earth presentation of a number of dances. But I miss the evidence usually given in footnotes. Admittedly this is a dance manual and not an armchair disquisition, but, if we are not to put the cart before the horse, we need the severely objective study first. Nevertheless one must be thanlcful for teachers of Miss Wood's calibre who combine practice with individual research. G.R.

    54 54

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    Article Contentsp. 54

    Issue Table of ContentsJournal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Vol. 8, No. 1 (1956), pp. i-iv+1-60Front Matter [pp. i-56]Editorial [p. iv]William Wells 1868-1953: Morris Dancer, Fiddler and Fool [pp. 1-15]Some 'English' Ballads and Folk Songs Recorded in Ireland 1952-1954 (Continued) [pp. 16-28]The Greatham Sword Dance [pp. 29-39]Sketch for a History of the Scottish Ballad [pp. 40-43]CorrespondenceYardley Gobion Morris [pp. 44-45]Country Dances of the Recent Past [pp. 45-46]The Children's Curse [p. 46]

    ReviewsReview: untitled [p. 47]Review: untitled [p. 48]Review: untitled [pp. 48-49]Review: untitled [pp. 49-50]Review: untitled [p. 50]Review: untitled [p. 51]Review: untitled [pp. 51-52]Review: untitled [pp. 52-53]Review: untitled [p. 53]Review: untitled [pp. 53-54]Review: untitled [p. 54]Review: untitled [p. 55]Review: untitled [p. 55]

    ObituaryGerald Finzi, 1901-1956 [p. 57]Georg Goetsch, 1895-1956 [pp. 57-58]May Elliott Hobbs, Died December 1956 [p. 58]

    Back Matter [pp. 59-60]

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