historical dances    /    17th-18th century


historical dances

Hailing from the oriental Sevilla, this Spanish dance was performed at the balls and theatres of entire Europe. Frequently danced with the accompaniment of the castanets, the sarabande became a showpiece solo or partner dance in the 18th century. It is danced in a slow, restrained tempo, full of elegance and yet lively and dynamic at the same time.

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Performed in the 16th and 17th century Spain, the sarabande started off as a fast, temperamental dance accentuated by the sound of the castanets or tambourine. When performed with texts sung by courtesans, it was considered as a seductive dance; in 1583, it was prohibited at the Spanish court, and in the first half of the 17th century it made its way to France, where it appeared in the court ballet La Douairière de Billebahaut, featured as the dance of Spaniards with the castanets. Simultaneously, the sarabande entered the street theatre, enjoying great popularity with comedians. From the second half of the 17th century, the sarabande was included in the repertoire of court performances and would be transcribed in the Feuillet notation, e.g. as Folie d’Espagne. The surviving compositions for a pair of dancers or solo performers feature similar steps intended as showpiece performances. The 3-measure metre of the sarabande employs such steps as the pas grave, pas coupé, pirouettes, and the rond de jambe. Also characteristic of the dance are its circular, gliding steps and turns, as well as the decorative hand motions and high port debras which refer to the positions of the castanets.



Agnel Romana, Podstawowe formy tańca dworskiego w okresie Baroku [Basic Forms of Court Dance of the Baroque], [in:] W kręgu tańca barokowego [In the Circle of the Baroque Dance], ed. P. Grajter, Lodz, 2007.

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

Drabecka Maria, Tańce historyczne [Historical Dances], vol. I, Warsaw, 1975.

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