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Barriera (Ballarino)

Title translation: 
At the barriers
Dance Type: 
Number of dancers: 
About this choreography: 
Reconstructed c. 2001, updated numerous times.

First Verse: Opening honours - jostling for position.

To begin, the man stands at the right hand of the woman, and takes her right hand in his left (i.e. he stands on the wrong side).

1-4       Riverenza grave

5-8       2 Continenze, LR

9-12     2 Seguiti ordinarii, the man takes the woman’s left hand guides the woman in a crescent, he going backwards, she forwards, until they have swapped places

13-16   Riverenza grave facing, he taking her right hand.

Second, Third and Fourth verses: Walk up and down.

1-2       2 Puntate grave

5-8       4 Passi

9-10     Seguito ordinario, if you need space, do a conversion here (Santucci’s suggestion)

11-12   2 Riprese right

13-16   2 Continenze, LR

The third verse repeats the second. In the fourth, replace the continenze with a riverenza.

Fifth verse: Face your partner and change places.

(same steps as the previous verse, just a different floor-pattern)

1-4       2 Puntate, take right hands and change places

5-8       4 Passi, turn to left, separating somewhat.

9-10     Seguito ordinario, walking to left

11-12   2 Riprese right,

13-16   Riverenza, facing

Sixth and Seventh Verse: Solos! First the man, then the woman.

1-4       4 Passi flankingly forward, tucking your cape, if you have one,  under your arm.

5-8       Passo to left, Riverenza, passo to right, riverenza.

9-12     4 Passi trangati flankingly backwards

13-16   Both Riverenza.

That’s it for the main part of the dance – now you have 8 bars to chat before the sciolta grave.


All the sciolte are done in the same basic position as the soli: facing your partner, a little apart, with plenty of room to show off.

Sciolta Grave, played twice: the fastest of the sciolte, as far as your feet are concerned.

1-4       2 Doppii grave, one to the left, one to the right.

5-8       2 Puntate grave flankingly backwards

9-10     2 Seguiti scorsi, towards partner, end by briefly taking hands in a  meza riverenza.              [Caroso says “scurryingly, two seguiti”]

11-14   4 Passi trangati flankingly backwards

15-16   2 Seguiti ordinarii turning in place, to the left

The second time is the same as the first, but that you do a Riverenza in place of the final two Seguiti.

Now another break.

Saltarello: The Tournament! Slaps!

1-4       4 Spezzati flankingly forwards, to meet your partner

5          Blow 1. The woman kisses a hand (presumably her own) then strikes the man’s hand.

6          Blow 2.  The man kisses a hand (presumably his own) then strikes the woman’s hand.

7          Blow 3. They both do a trabuchetto to the left, striking right hands.

8          Blow 4. They both do a trabuchetto to the right, striking left hands.

1-12     2 Continenze LR

13-16   Riverenza, taking right hands

This is your last chat-break.

Galliard:  in music only - there is no jumping.

1-4       4 Seguiti ordinarii flankingly backwards

5-8       4 Seguiti ordinarii, making the turn in the Contrapasso, that is, two turning in a circle to the left, then two turning to the right.

9-10     4 Passi forwards, to meet your partner

11-12   Riverenza, taking ordinary hands



This balleto, looks complicated, with its seven stately duple-time verses and three sciolte (variations of the tune in triple time), but it is very repetitive, and has a small step vocabulary. It was clearly very popular in the sixteenth century, as many versions survive, and it is referred to in other dances. It is a lot of fun – the name refers to fighting over barriers in a tournament, which the dancers act out with slaps in the saltarello.


There’s a beautiful recording of Caroso’s Barriera on “Dances of the Renaissance, volume 2” (Ulsamer Collegium, 2000), but the repeat structure doesn't match the dance. I use a digitally altered version. I don’t know of a commercially available recording with the same repeat structure as the dance.

About this translation: 

Translated April 04, from Ballarino (dance #26)








The Man stands by the right hand of the Lady (as can be seen in the figure for Bellezze d’Olimpia) and with his left hand he will take the right hand of the Lady, and they will do together the Riverenza, and two Continenze, one to the left, and the other to the right: then them man will lead the Lady by the hand, doing two Seguiti ordinarii backwards in the manner of a half moon, and the Lady will do another two forwards, passing in front of the man; at the end of these each will return to his own place, that is, the Lady at the right hand, the Man at the left, as is custom to begin this and other Balli: then the Man, releasing the left hand of the Lady, will take her by the right, and facing a little they will do the Riverenza together.


In the second time, proceeding together, they will do two Puntate gravi, four Passi gravi, and one Seguito ordinario, with two Riprese to the right, and two Continenze, one to the left and the other to the right.


In the third time, they will do the same passage.


In the fourth time, they will return to do the same passage, at the end of which, in place of the two Continenze, they will do the Riverenza grave.


In the fifth time, they will take right hands [Fe], and they will do two Puntate: then releasing, they will do four Passi gravi turning to the left; whereon exchanging places, and taking enough space, they will do a Seguito ordinario by the left flank, with two Riprese to the right, and a Riverenza grave facing.


In the sixth time, the Man alone will do four Passi gravi flankingly forwards, and in the beginning, he will put the right part of his Cape under his right arm, as is shown in the figure for the Balleto Alta Regina, and note that this action is done gracefully: then turning himself to face to the left, he will do a Passo grave with the left foot, and the Riverenza with the right: he will do the same turning his body to face the right, and doing the Passo with the right foot, and the Riverenza with the left; then he will do four Passi trangati flankingly backwards, after which they will do the Riverenza together.


In the seventh time, the Lady alone will do the same things that the man did.


The sciolta grave of the Sonata.


Proceeding together, they will do two Doppio gravi, one to the left, and the other to the right: then they will do two Puntate gravi flankingly backwards; then running/scurrying [scorrendo] two Seguiti, they will take hands, and at the end of this they will do a meza Riverenza. Then they again do four Passi trangati flankingly backwards, as they did in the first variation, both turning to the left with two Seguiti ordinarii.


They will do this same passage again another time, except in place of the turn in two Seguiti ordinarii, they will do the Riverenza grave facing.


The sciolta of the Sonata as a Saltarello.


They will do together four Seguiti Spezzati flankingly forwards: then the Lady, feigning to kiss the hand [whether his or hers is unclear], will give a little blow to the hand of the Man, and he will then do the same thing; then they will do together a Trabuchetto to the left, giving each other another little blow to the right hand: and they will do the same again on the other side, that is, a Trabuchetto to the right, giving a blow with the left, with two Continenze, one to the left and the other to the right: then taking right hands [Fe], they will do together the Riverenza grave.


The sciolta of this Sonata as a Galliard.


Releasing hands [Fede], they will do four Seguiti ordinarii flankingly backwards, together with the turn of the Ballo called Contrapasso: finally they will do four Passi gravi forwards; then the man, taking the Lady by the ordinary hand, will place her at the head of the hall, or where rather he may conveniently return, and they will finish the Ballo by doing the Riverenza grave together.