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Ballo del Fiore, for two (Ballarino)

Title translation: 
Flower dance
Number of dancers: 
As many as will
About this choreography: 
2001-6, revised 2007.


The dance has a very simple structure: after the introduction (which is only danced once), the steps always go: 4 seguiti to go somewhere; 2 continenze and a riverenza; repeat. All that changes is where you go: to find a partner, to find a place to dance, to leave your partner, to return, and to find a new partner.


Introduction - danced only once: one man only, carrying a flower in his right hand.

1-4 Riverenza L

5-8 2 Seguiti ordinariiLRturning left (circling in place, anti-clockwise)




Finding a partner:

1-8 4 Seguiti ordinarii LRLR, going to stand near new partner

1-8 2 ContinenzeLR, RiverenzaL, facing new partner, inviting them to dance

take partner by ordinary hand (a man will need to swap the flower to his left hand)


Taking your place:

1-4 2 Seguitiordinarii LRLR, leading partner onto the floor

5-8 2 SeguitiscorsiLR, lead partner in a crescent shape, so you end facing Caroso specifies scorsi, but you can do another two seguiti ordinarii if you prefer.

1-8 2 Continenze LR, RiverenzaL, facing your partner


Leaving: the turning figure

release hands

1-4 2 SeguitiordinariiLR, turning left, circling in place anticlockwise

5-8 2 SeguitiordinariiLR forwards, passing your partner, then turning to face at end

1-8 2 ContinenzeLR, Riverenza L, facing your partner, a few metres apart


Returning: the zig-zag figure

1-8 4 SeguitiordinariiLRLR flankingly forwards, zig-zagging toward partner, moving first towards the left

1-4 2 ContinenzeLR; person holding flower kisses it (or pretends to) at end,

9-16 RiverenzaL person with flower passes it to partner


Repeat from ****

The woman (who now has the flower) goes to find a new partner; while the man returns to his seat. At the end of the repeat, the woman gives the flower to her new partner; she returns to her seat, while he dances away (from ****) to find a new partner. Thus everyone dances in turn as long as they please. When it's your turn to pick a partner, try to choose someone who hasn't yet danced.



This is a beautiful 'mixer' for many people. A single man (according to Caroso; a woman could also start the dance) dances alone, holding a flower. He chooses a partner, and passes the flower to her as they finish dancing, whereupon she chooses a new partner.

It's worth investing in nice flowers for this: "the dance of the broken pencil" isn't romantic.

Variations (not from Caroso):

  • several people can begin, each holding a flower, if there are many dancers (one flower for every 4-8 dancers works well)
  • one can begin with a bunch of flowers, and divide it until the situation above is reached
  • candles or torches can be used in place of flowers

Caroso wrote several versions of this dance, for various numbers of people; this is the simplest.


A literal reading of Caroso's instructions has this dance start on the right foot. As renaissance dances overwhelmingly begin on the left foot, I suspect this is an error, and that Caroso would have included a clarifying had he intended something so unusual, to so little choreographic effect. I begin on the left foot, as usual, and alternate left and right throughout. The later instruction in this dance to turn to the left seems to support this, as do Caroso's other versions, and the related "Branle de la Torche" (Arbeau, 1589), all of which start on the left.

The instructions for part three: "Four seguiti, two turning to the left, and two forwards, one going to each end of the room" are variously interpreted. As long as you end up facing your partner, and a little apart, it doesn't matter much if you and your partner dance this differently. I think that a tight circle turning in place, then passing your partner with two seguiti ordinarii, turning to face at the end of the second is:

  • consistent with other dances with comparable (and sometimes clearer) instructions
  • gives a separation between partners that is easy to close with four seguiti done flankingly
  • gives a separation comparable to that in other dances where partners approach with four flanking seguiti
  • pleasantly compact - adaptable to a range of dancing-spaces



The music needs to go on for several (sometimes many) minutes, to allow enough repetitions for everyone to dance.

About this translation: 

Translated in 2006.


[Ballarino # 67] BALLO DEL FIORE (Flower Dance), Da farsi in due (done by two);

IN LODE DELLA CLARISSIMA SIG(RA). LA SIG(RA). LAVRA MORO CONTARINI, Gentildonna Venetiana ( in honour of the most renowned Lady Laura Moro Contarini, a Venetian gentlewoman).

Nel principiar questo Ballo, l Huomo pigliarà un Fiore, & lo portarà nella man destra, & al principio della Sonata, farà la Riuerenza graui, & due Seguiti ordinarij volti alla sinistra: poi passeggiando farà quattro Seguiti, & accostandosi vicino alla Dama che vorrà pigliare, farà due Continenze, & la Riuerenza, principiando ogni cosa col piè destro.

At the start of this dance, the man will take a flower, and carry it in his right hand, and at the beginning of the music, he will do a Riverenza grave, and two Seguiti ordinarii turning to the left. Then, walking about, he will do four Seguiti, and approaching the lady he wishes to take [to dance with], he will do two Continenze, and a Riverenza, starting each thing with the right foot.

Poi, pigliando la Dama per la man' ordinaria, passeggiando faranno due Seguiti ordinarij, & due scorsi, & guidando l'Huomo la Dama, al fine dell'ultimo Seguito si fermarà in prospettiua, & farà col braccio à modo di meza Luna, mettendo la Dama all'incontro, oue insieme faranno due Continenze, & la Riuerenza.

Then, he will take the lady by the usual hand, and, walking about, they will do two Seguiti ordinarii, and two scorsi, the man leading the lady, and at the end of the final Seguito he will stop facing somewhat [in propspettiva], and he will put the lady opposite him with their arms in a crescent shape, where they will do together two Continenze and a Riverenza.

Ciò fatto, lasciando l'Huomo la Dama, seguiranno à fare quattro Seguiti ordinarij, due volti alla sinistra, & due dinanzi, andando l'una da un capo, & l'altro dall'altro della Sala; oue si faranno incontro due Continenze, & la Riuerenza: Dopò passeggiandosi incontro, faranno quattro Seguiti fiancheggiati, con due Continenze; al fine delle quali, l'Huomo baciarà gratiosamente il Fiore, che harà in mano, & facendo insieme la Riuerenza, lo donarà alla Dama, poi tornarà al suo luogo: la quale dopo che l harà accettato, passeggiando con quattro Seguiti, & tenendo il medesimo ordine, pigliarà un' altr' Huomo, & con esso farà le medesime attioni che harà fatte l'Huomo con lei; donando gli il Fiore, com'esso fece, nel fare l'ultima Riuerenza, & tornando al suo luogo.

That done, the man will release the lady, and they will do four seguiti ordinarii, two turning to the left, and two forwards, one going to one end of the room, the other to the other end, where they will do two Continenze and a Riverenza, facing. Then, walking opposite one another, they will do four Seguiti flankingly, with two Continenze, at the end of which the man will gracefully kiss the flower, which he has in his hand, and as they do a Riverenza together he will give it to the lady, then return to his place. Then she who has recieved it will walk about with four Seguiti, and, following the same rule, she will take another man, and perform with him the same actions as she did with the first man, giving him the flower, as was done above, as they do the final Riverenza, and returning to her place.

Dopo l Huomo seguendo il Ballo, pigliarà un'altra Dama, & seguiranno di mano in mano col medesimo stile, sin che più loro piacerà.

Then that man continues the dance, taking another lady, and they follow on, hand in hand, in the same manner, as long as it pleases them.