Society Dancing, the 15th to 18th Centuries.

Society Dancing, the 15th to 18th Centuries. Out-of-door Dances. Chamber Dancing. Comic Dances. The Ball. Illustrations from Italian 15th Century, German 15th and 16th Centuries, French 15th, 16th, 17th, English 15th, 16th and 18th Centuries Dancing.
Italian dance. From an engraving, end of 15th century, attributed to Baccio Baldini.
Fig. 37: Italian dance. From an engraving, end of 15th century, attributed to Baccio Baldini.
Italian dancing, the end of the 15th century.
Fig. 38: Italian dancing, the end of the 15th century.

Concerning the dance as a means of social intercourse, it does not appear to have been formulated as an accomplishment until late in the thirteenth century, and at a later date was cultivated as a means of teaching what we call deportment, until it became almost a necessity with the classes, as is shown by the literature of that period. The various social dances, such as the Volte, the Jig and the Galliard, although in early periods, not so numerous, required a certain training and agility. These, however, soon became complicated with many social and local variations, the characteristics of which are a study in themselves. The dances (figs. 37 and 38) in a field of sports, from an Italian engraving of the fifteenth century, show us nothing new; indeed, with different costumes it is very like what we have from Egypt (fig. 3), only a different phase of the action, and the attitude of this old dance is repeated even to our own time.

Chamber dance, 15th century. From a drawing by Martin Zasinger.

Dancing in a 'pleasure                   garden,' end of the 15th century. French, from the 'Roman de                   la Rose,' in the British Museum.

Fig. 39: Chamber dance, 15th century. From a drawing by Martin Zasinger.

Fig. 40: Dancing in a "pleasure garden," end of the 15th century. French, from the "Roman de la Rose," in the British Museum.

In the Chamber dance by Martin Zasinger (fig. 39), of the fifteenth century, no figures are in action, but we see an arrangement of the guests and musicians, from which it is evident that the Chamber dance as a social function had progressed and that the "Bal paré," etc., was here in embryo.

The flute and viol are evidently opening the function and the trumpets and other portions of the orchestra on the other side waiting to come in.

The stately out-door function, in a pleasure garden, from the "Roman de la Rose" (fig. 40) illustrates but one portion of the feature of a dance, another of which is described in Chaucer's translation:

   "They threw y fere
Ther mouthes so that through their play
It seemed as they kyste alway."

Fancy dress dance of Wildemen of the 15th century. From MS. 4379 Harl, British Museum.

Comic dance to pipe and tabor, end of 15th century. From pen drawing in the Mediaeval House Book in the Castle of Wolfegg, by the Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet.

Fig. 41: Fancy dress dance of Wildemen of the 15th century. From MS. 4379 Harl, British Museum.
Fig. 42: Comic dance to pipe and tabor, end of 15th century. From pen drawing in the Mediaeval House Book in the Castle of Wolfegg, by the Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet.

Fancy dress and comic dances have handed down the same characteristics almost to our own time. The Wildeman costume dance (fig. 41) is interesting in many respects, it not only shows us the dance, but the costume and general method of the Chamber.