Perfect Dancing


Of course, there is a lot more to perfect dancing than just knowing all of the steps and timing. Domenico talks in his treatise about grace, maniera, and “fantasmata”, which is a “physical quickness which is controlled by the understanding of the misura”.

Cornazano also talks quite a bit about dance style. The important points that he raises include the following:


Memoria (memory)

“Memoria entails that you must remember the steps that you intend to perform, displaying the principles of dancing.”


Misura (measure)

“Misura is other than remembering the dance, that you must make your steps in orderly arrangement and in accordance with your musician”. Misura is the ability to be able to relate the knowledge of the steps to the timing of the music, and the ability to physically relate them together on the dance floor.


Maniera (manner)

“Maniera is, besides remembering the dance and moving with misura, that you must give attention to the things that you are performing: campeggiano and ondeggiano with the torso, in accordance with the foot that moves. For instance when you move the right foot to perform a doppio, you must cameggiare on the left foot which remains on the ground, and somewhat turn the torso to that side, ondeggiare during the second short step and elevate suavely above that one, and with the same grace lower on the third step that completes the doppio.”

The objective here is to keep the body moving with the feet. When moving forwards on the second beat of a doppio, raise your body up and turn your torso (hip and shoulder) towards the direction of movement. On the final beat of a doppio, lower the body again and straighten the shoulders.

This achieves a very different style compared with the French and Burgundian dances, and also quite different to the 16th century Italian dances which use shoulder and body movement in a very different way.



“Aire ... will cause you to be pleasureable to those who watch you. Above all, you must perform with a happy countenance and cheerfully.”


Diversita di cose

“Diversita di cose is being able to perform different dances successively and never making one like the other, that is, execute [the steps] in various styles. That which has been done once, do not repeat it immediately -- but this section applies more to the man than to the woman.”


Compartmento di terreno

“Compartmento di terreno means ... that you must take extreme care in calculating the surface where you will perform the steps of the dance that you plan to execute. You must partition it well from your teacher’s advice and own experience.”

This means that you should be aware of how much space is available for you to dance in, and make sure that you divide that space up well between the steps that you have for the dance. If you have to cover a space of about 3 meters in 2 doubles, then you need to cover 1½ meters in each doppio. Similarly, when you are performing turns, circuits, and other figures on the dance floor, take the time to make sure you are using an appropriate amount of floor space for each sequence.

Of course all of this and more is only a part of being a good dancer -- but the rest of it is stuff you can’t learn from a book!