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La Caccia d'Amore

Title translation: 
The Chase of Love
Number of dancers: 
As many as will

Negri allows as many couples as will to dance this, the letter of 1559 only three couples. I suggest three to six couples.

Three or more couples begin in a column, holding ordinary hands. If there are more than six couples I suggest forming two sets.

First part - Meeting your partner

Riverenza,  2 Continenze,   4 Seguiti   forwards, release  hands.

2 Seguiti   turning left, end facing,

2 Riprese

         Each man takes his partner's right arm:

2 Seguiti changing places, release arms; 2 Seguiti turning in place to the left

8 Spezzati, casting. End in place, facing partner.

Riverenza, 2 Continenze

        Each woman takes her partner's right arm:

2 Seguiti changing places, release arms; 2 Seguiti turning in place to the left

2 Riprese, 2 Seguiti turning left

Second part - Meeting everyone else

Riverenza, 2 Riprese

Men hey with 8 Spezzati, taking right hands, then left

       First man takes first woman by right hand, they alone do:

2 Seguiti circling right; release hands; 2 Seguiti circling left, returning to place.

     First man repeats, with second woman, then third; while the second man turns the first woman, then the second, and so on down the line, until everyone is acquainted.
Men return to place with 4 Seguiti, ending with a meza riverenza.

Women do what men just did, from the hey.

Third part - the Chase Game

       First couple only: The man takes his partner's hand, and facing they do

2 Riprese, 2 Continenze, and release hands.

They cast out, to the bottom of the set. No steps are specified - I use seguiti ordinarii.

At the end of the column, the man tries to take the woman's hand, but she scurries back to the top of the column, and he follows. He chases her, 'until it pleases her to allow herself to be caught'. Negri allows them to run wherever they like. The letter says they they may run up and down the middle of the set, or outside is, but may not pass through the line of women, or through the line of men. Eventually the woman allows the man to take her hand, and they walk together down the middle of the set (or up and then back down if they are already at the bottom of the set when he catches her),  where they take their new place at the bottom of the column.

From the letter (but not Negri): the man and woman change places, so that she ends up at the end of the man's column, and he at the end of the women's.

Now, the second couple do everything the first couple have done, starting with the Riverenza; then the third couple, and so on until all have danced.

From the letter: The first couple dances again, but this time the woman chases the man. The other couples follow, as above, until all the women have chased their partners. Now all the couples should be 'proper' once more.

Fourth Part - the Wheel Game

Riverenza, 2 Riprese

Seguito, holding right hands, changing places; Seguito, not holding hand, turning left, to return to place

2 Seguiti turning left (in place); 4 Seguiti casting

4 Seguiti forwards; the first man leads the column round to the right to form a circle with the women in the middle

Continue to do Seguiti forwards. When the first man calls "one forwards" (or two backwards, or similar) the men all run to take the hand of the next woman ahead (or whatever is appropriate). An extra man can join in, and try to steal a woman, so that the men play 'musical partners'.

Modern variation, for gender-equality:

When the first man or woman calls 'switch' everyone takes their partner's right hand, and swaps places with a Seguito ordinario. The women now play musical partners.

The last couple can drop off the end of the line as the large circle forms - they will try to steal partners in turn, as the men and woman are in the outer circle.

Continue as long as everyone is having fun.

Once everyone is familiar with the game you can call in Italian:

one, two - uno, due;      forwards, backwards - innanzi, indietro;    exchange - cambio

Fifth part - the galliard

When everyone has danced the wheel game long enough, the musicians play a galliard and each couple in turn dances Il Piantone. I'll cover this some other time.


We have a brief description of La Caccia in a letter from 1559, and a more detailed version, with music, by Negri in Le Gratie d'Amore (1602). Negri's description shows that it was a very popular dance, and that various dance masters taught their own versions. This is Negri's dance, with a few additions (given below in italics). If you wish you could dance the Chase game, or the Wheel game, alone (good for kids).


If you can't find Negri's tune, use another piece of 16th C dance music in moderate duple time (such as Ballo del Fiore, a Passamezzo, or a Double Branle). Beware of other pieces called "La Caccia" - it's is common name, and most of the pieces aren't even dance music.

Musicians should play until the first couple ask them to stop (and, if possible, should be prepared to play Il Piantone, or another galliard, immediately afterwards). If you use canned music, try to find a recording that lasts 5-10 minutes, and repeat the track if necessary.      

My notes on performing La Caccia, and several arrangements of the tune, here:


From:  Firenze, Archivio di Stato: Carte Strozziane, Serie I, 22. (a letter dated 15/4/1559), translated by Katherine Davies, 8/06.  My translation was made from  poor-quality photocopy of a transcript; some words were illegible.



    There are 3 men and every man holds a lady by the hand; that is, each man, one woman. They go thus one after the other through the room with tempi of moresca as they will. Then each will place his lady opposite, facing, to do a riverenza. Then the man and the lady who are at the top go one here and one there, that is the lady goes behind the ladies, who stand still, and the man goes behind the men, who stand still. Thus then in tempo di moresca the man goes to take the lady, who flees and does not allow him to catch her for a moment, and they mustn’t pass within, that is through the middle between the man and the man, and between the lady and the lady. Then when he has caught her by the hand, they go up and down through the middle and out, in  tempo di moresca, and making the exchange of hands, they two both go to stand at the bottom, but the man goes to the lady’s side, and the lady to the man’s, and they stand still with a reverenza. Then those who are at the top go one here and the other there, the man seeking to take the lady as the first man did, and they go and stop and do the reverence. And in such manner does the third man with his lady. When all three have finished, then it belongs to the women to take the men in the same manner that the men first did, such that all three go to do it in turn. And thus passing around the room each with his lady, they stop opposite one another, and then the ladies stand still and the men  go winding about the room one behind the other as he seems. They do the turn of the camaiorese, enduring so long as they will, and they finish the ballo.

Translated from Negri's Le Gratie d'Amore by Katherine Davies, 9/06.

A new dance, by the author, called La Caccia d’Amore (the Chase of Love), danced by many gentlemen and ladies.

In honour of the most illustrious lady, Lady Giovana of Cordova, second wife of the most illustrious lord, the Count of Aro, son of the most excellent lord, the Constable of Castille, Governor of Milan.

This dance causes great confusion, especially at the beginning; because the men run about and compete to get a lady. Ill will sometimes follows from this, if, when facing her, there are two gentlemen who want to take one lady - she, so as not to cause injury, remains still, and neither one nor the other goes to dance. Therefore it is good that gentlemen go temperately to take the lady that they wish, and that he who would lead the dance not begin it until all have found ladies, and all placed them in a column in an orderly fashion.

FIRST PART, with the passage and the variation

They will all do together the Riverenza grave,  two Continenze, and four Seguiti forwards, releasing hands, and together two Seguiti turning to the left, and, turning face to face, two Riprese.  The gentlemen take the right arms of their ladies, and they do two Seguiti, each passing into the other’s place, and they release [hands], and do another two Seguiti turning to the left, remaining in the said place. The man who leads the dance, with his column, will turn to the right, and also the lady will turn to the left, with her column, and they will all do together 8 Spezzati going to the head of the dance, and returning to the foot,   each opposite his lady.  They will do the Riverenza grave all together, and two Continenze. The ladies will take the right arms of their gentlemen, and do two Seguiti passing each in the other’s place, and release, and do another two Seguiti turning to the left, turning their faces, then they do another two Riprese, and two Seguiti turning to the left, each staying in the said place.

SECOND PART,  with the passage and the variation

They will do together the Riverenza and two Riprese.  He who leads, and the other gentlemen, will turn to the left, and go to the head and then return to the foot of the dance, doing 8 Spezzati in a hay, taking now the right hand, and now the left, stopping each with his face turned to his lady with a little bow. He who leads will take the right hand of his lady and do two Seguiti turning by that hand, and release, they they do another two Seguiti turning to the left, returning to his own place with a small bow. Then he takes the second lady, and does the same as with the first lady. Then he takes the third, and all the others one by one until the end, and all the other men follow after, hand in hand, all beginning with the first lady, ending with the last. He who leads turns to the right and returns to the foot of the dance, and all the others follow, and they do 4 Seguiti with a meza Riverenza to their ladies. The lady who leads turns to the right, with her companions, and goes to the head then to the foot of the dance with 8 Spezzati in a hay, taking the right hand and the left, stopping with each facing her gentleman with a meza Riverenza. The lady who leads takes the right hand of her gentleman and does 2 Seguiti by that hand, releases, and they do two Seguiti turning to the left returning to place with a small bow. She who leads turns to the left, with her ladies, and they do 4 Seguiti returning to the foot of the dance, with a meza Riverenza facing their gentlemen.

THIRD PART, with the passage, and the variation in the form of a chase.

The gentleman who leads takes the hand of his lady, and they do two Continenze and two Riprese facing, then they release hands. The gentleman turns to the left to go to the head of the dance to take his lady, and she, at the same time, turns to the right to go also to the head of the dance, and seeing that her gentleman wants to take her by the hand, suddenly she returns, scurrying back/backwards, then passes in the middle of the two columns, and he follows her, until it pleases the lady to be caught and they have their fill of scurrying, and she allows him to take her by the hand, then he accompanies her to the head of the dance, to the bottom of the column. The second follows with his lady, and does a second time what was done, going also with his lady to the head of the dance, and the whole column do these things, hand in hand, returning each to his own place as they were at the beginning.

FOURTH PART, with the variation and passage.

All together they do the Riverenza grave, and two Riprese, and then two Seguiti, one taking right hands of his lady, passing each into the other’s place, then taking left hands they will do another Seguito returning to their own places. Then they do another two Seguiti turning to the left. The gentleman who leads the dance, with his column, turns to the left, and the lady also, with her column, turns to the right, and they return to the head of the ballo, and do four Seguiti.  Then, each taking the hand of his lady with a small bow, and they will do another four Seguiti in the shape of a circle, with all the ladies in the middle. He who leads, proceeding so, will say ‘one forwards’, and suddenly they will release the hands of their ladies, and go quickly to take the hand of her who goes in front, in which time another gentleman, who has not entered the dance, quickly takes a lady.  And so t he who leads the dance always calls as it pleases him ‘one forwards’ or ‘one back’, or ‘two forwards’, or ‘two back’, always keeping one gentleman without his lady, and each takes infinite pleasure in this. And he who leads guides his lady out somewhat into the shape of a great circle, all the others will follow.

FIFTH PART.  Variation of the tune as a galliard with its ripresa.

The first gentleman, with his lady, walks a little, then they drop hands and do together the Riverenza and they dance Piantone a little, and then he takes her by the hand, and he leads her to her place, and they do the Riverenza. The other gentleman, who is at the right hand, with his lady, does another timem and they all follow, hand in hand, and this manner La Caccia d’Amore ends with the pastime that pleases each. Other masters would add to this, but, so as not to be too long, let this variation suffice.

The music, with the lute intabulation, for la Caccia d’Amore. Of three parts, the two first are done twice each until the last part, which is the galliard, is done with the, and which is done with a return to the dance Piantone, which finishes this Caccia.