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La Danse De Cleves

Dance Type: 
Number of dancers: 

Rb ss ddd ss đ       (processional; đ indicates a double backwards)

"flower pattern"

     ss d               (man goes forwards on ss, backwards on d; woman circles in place with ss d)

     ss d               (woman goes forwards on ss, backwards on d; man circles in place with ss d)

     ss d ss đ            (processional; many finish this 'measure' with a desmarche, I prefer đ, to mirror the first section)

"heart pattern"

     ss d               (ss flankingly forwards, separating, d turning inwards, end together, facing back of room)

     ss d               (repeat, end facing forwards)

     ss ddd ss đ z b      (processional)




This is unlike most dances in the Brussels MS in that it is not strictly processional, and the music given is a tune with a complex rhythm, not just a tenor. Reconstructions vary, because the description isn't clear, and there are bits missing. This is the first version I learned. I think it is what is usually danced in Australasia, but I don't know where it comes from. I add a desmarche before the final branle that is not present in the version I learned - as my group doesn't usually perform a final reverence in basses danses the dance would otherwise be one measure short.

How much do we actually know about this dance? The first section is fairly solid - the steps are written under the notes in the usual way - but the final step, interpreted above as "double backwards" is given as a d with a funny squiggle next to it. The squiggle may or may not be significant, and may or may not mean 'go backwards' - it looks rather like a superscript version of the symbol used for desmarche. The patterned sections ("flowers" and "hearts") are definitely done with ssd, ssd, and definitely done to that particular bit of music, but the patterns themselves are not so clear - they are described in words under the relevant sections of music, but the descriptions are brief, and ambiguous. The other two processional sections are made up in imitation of the first section: the manuscript has two chunks of music with no steps at all under them


There are a number of good recordings: my favourite is that on Eschewynge of Ydelnesse.