historical dances    /    16th century


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An Italian court dance from the region of Lombardy, the galliard appeared at Italian courts as soon as in 1480 and spread across Europe as one of the most characteristic dances of the Renaissance other than the pavane. The galliard is a dance intended for pairs or solo performers, highly challenging, with a lively tempo and dynamic character.

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The name of the dance refers to a word denoting vigor and robustness. Thus, the galliard was targeted at young, agile dancers. The peak of its popularity extended throughout the entire 16th century when it reigned supreme at all European courts and became the favorite dance of Queen Elizabeth I of England. The galliard usually followed the pavane – its lively, animated form, counted in the 3-measure metre, contrasted with its slow and solemn predecessor. In his treatise, Master Arbeau describes the steps and numerous variants of the galliard. The basic step in the dance is the cinquepassi, pas de base, i.e. the fivestep in which legs are thrust forward simultaneously with hop-steps and conclude with a landing in the 4th position, the so-called cadence. Other steps in the French style include the pas talon, entrataille, ruade-grue, puce, pas largy, as well as numerous components of the Renaissance technique interwoven in the individual steps. As of the 16th century, the galliard was the most difficult virtuoso dance, requiring high improvisation skills and specific expression using leg movement and foot accents. The galliard was also presented by dance masters as part of court performances.



Conté Pierre, Danses anciennes de cour et de théâtre en France, Paris, 1974.

Drabecka Maria, Tańce historyczne [Historical Dances], vol. II, Warsaw, 1983.

Larousse-Bordas, Dictionnaire de la danse, Paris, 1999.

Tabourot, Jehan (Thoinot Arbeau), Orchésographie, Langres, 1588.