ABSTRACT: In the 16th Century, ladies and gentlemen of noble birth were taught from an early age the art of dancing, necessary to survive in the hierarchical world of the court. A neo-platonic perspective on dancing was at the core of renaissance thinking (humanism) and persisted throughout the 17th Century. In dance circles the principles of harmony and order in the cosmos, harking back to the classical world of Plato and Quintilian, were already well established in Italy by the end of the 15th Century. The balli were structures consisting of many different rhythmic sections throughout which a playful narrative of love, courtship and drama unfolded. By the second half of the 16th Century, two notable dancing masters, Fabritio Caroso and Cesare Negri, were beginning to record their teaching and advice in manuals, which serve as the first known comprehensive and detailed treatises on court dance. By the late 16th Century, the balletto still involved the theatricality of narrative and contrasting or varying emotions. It was still a performance or game for the spectators as well as for the dancers themselves, despite being performed in a social context. In this article, we take a closer look at 2 balli presented by Caroso: Ardente Sole and Laura Soave, showing that their structure was inspired by rhetorical principles.
Pulse of the dance lies at heart of them all
Tepfer’s account of Bach’s theme had expressive warmth, but his first jazz variation jarred horribly
by Michael Church, Monday 15 February 2016
Mary Collins in Baroque Unwrapped Lee Glasgow
After ten years of life, Kings Place has finally found – and been found by – its natural audience, and the left-field originality of its Baroque Unwrapped series neatly explains why. First up last weekend was Dan Tepfer’s Goldberg Variations/Variations, in which each variation in Bach’s majestic keyboard collection was followed by a jazz variation. A risky idea, but since Tepfer is primarily a jazz pianist, it seemed it might work – many musicians have jazzed up Bach, with total success. Tepfer’s account of Bach’s theme had expressive warmth, but his first jazz variation jarred horribly; the rest of the work became a desperate tug-of-war between bursts of jazz which didn’t seem to know what their purpose was, and returns to Bachian sanity.
On the other hand, ‘The French dancing masters’ was a brilliant concert-workshop in which four members of the Florilegium period-instrument ensemble teamed up with charismatic dance-specialist Mary Collins to tease out the relationship between the music and choreography of eighteenth-century Paris. The result – which culminated in a work-out for the audience – was fascinating, and will utterly transform the way those of us present will listen henceforth to instrumental Menuets, Sarabandes, and Gavottes. The pulse of the dance lies at the heart of them all.
Read the full article here.
Mary is currently collaborating with Rachel Brown (baroque flute), Adrian Butterfield (baroque violin) and Laurence Cummings
(harpsichord/continuo) to produce a unique new resource for musicians.
Their aims are outlined in this short video.
‘Caractéres de la Danse, A Baroque Rebellion’ will be the first truly comprehensive guide to the performance of baroque dance music. Players of both baroque and modern instruments will benefit from this guide, especially as so much of the baroque repertoire consists of dance-related music.
Watch this space for more information and news about date of publication.
Rachel Brown, flute
Adrian Butterfield, violin
Oliver Webber, violin and viola
Rachel Byrt, viola
Katherine Sharman, cello
Peter Buckoke, bass
Laurence Cummings, harpsichord
Mary Collins and Steven Player, dancers
Visit the London Handel Players website.
Classical Music : York Early Music festival review – sublime
By Alfred Hickling
A concert of baroque dances can seem fairly academic without the presence of some baroque dancers. Happily, the London Handel Players were joined by the fleet-footed Mary Collins and Steven Player performing original gavottes and bourrées in period costume. It was more than mere novelty: Collins, an expert in the expressive rhetoric of 18th-century choreography, made a persuasive point that the movement functions as an additional musical line.
Read the full article here.
From the South Wales Argus, 6 July 2015
Only two questions for…London Handel Players’ harpsichord player Laurence Cummings
By Charles Hutchinson
How does performing with dancers contrast with other classical concerts, Laurence?
“Working with dancers is a revelation for musicians; we can suddenly visualise the musical impulses that we feel. As baroque musicians it’s great to get in touch with the root of all baroque music – the dance. The strong beats that we know as down beats are very often springs in the dance choreography so they’re more like up beats! This gives a sense of lift to the phrases that I find captivating. The steps are beautifully intricate, yet full of passion and it’s fascinating and inspiring to match them to the music.”
Let’s dance, not make war, looks to be a much better legacy for Louis XIV. Discuss.
“Indeed! Louis would often break his Council of War for his dancing lesson. We’ve done a lot of baroque workshops with children and it’s wonderful to see their sense of achievement and enjoyment, having mastered a dance requiring discipline, coordination and social skills. Everyone should sing and everyone should DANCE!”
See the full article here.