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La Catena d'Amore

Title translation: 
The Chain of Love
Number of dancers: 
couples, as many as will
About this choreography: 
Begun 2008, updated 2012, 2015, 2016

The first part of the dance is done to the first section on the music, which is 12 bars long, which will work rather nicely with our Passeggio.

The bulk of the dance is performed using just the one sequence of steps: four seguiti ordinarii (step, step, spezzato - for Negri), followed by a pair of riprese (to the left and the right). Usually the seguiti are done two forwards, and two backwards (taking very tiny steps with the backwards ones); unless there is some choreographic reason to do otherwise.

Setup: longways set for as many couple as will (really!)

Introduction: Facing your partner

  • Riverenza grave 
  • 2 Riprese grave, LR
  • 2 Continenze grave, LR

First Passegio:

  • 2 seguiti ordinarii forwards (facing forwards)
  • 2 seguiti ordinarii backwards (smaller steps)
  • 2 Riprese facing partner (facing your partner)

All repeat the passegio above.

Keep doing this passegio, until the end of the third mutanza.

From time to time it will be more convenient to do all the seguiti forwards (during some mutanze) or replacing the seguiti backwards with seguiti turning (a conversion - man goes backwards, woman forwards, couple as a whole rotates - done to turn around at the end of the set).


So, while the rest of the set does the passegio:

First man/couple only: instead of 2 S backwards, turn to right to face next couple. All do two Riprese. 


Now they are aligned:

head - foot

[[[[[ )

((((( ]


First Mutanza:

Man 2 passes under arm of Man 1, standing in square

repeat passage,

The couple 2 turns and approches couple 3


I think maybe the turn is like a conversion, and the passage is like arches - passing a couple at a time under ordinary hands: large steps forwards, small steps backwards, riprese back-to-back/to 'introduce' to next couple.

End back on own place, with first couple again facing second.


So, all continue dancing "2 seguiti forwards, 2 (tiny) seguiti backwards, 2 riprese".

1. First couple approach second couple. Second couple pass under their arms (man leading woman), with the two seguiti forwards. (third and later couples just do forwards and backwards)

2. First couple are now facing third couple. Second couple are now at the front. Two seguiti backwards, tiny, so there are no collisions.

3. First couple and third couple riprese in square, second couple riprese facing front.


1. First couple approach third couple. Third couple pass under their arms (man leading woman), with the two seguiti forwards. Second couple, and all later couples, forwards as usual.

2. First couple are now facing fourth couple (if there is one). All: two seguiti backwards, tiny, so there are no collisions. Except second couple (at front) who do "conversion".

3. Riprese. Second and third couple in square at front. Third and fourth (if there is a fourth) next, all others facing front.


Continue this process until the first couple are at the bottom of the set (? do they wait until the set has fully inverted?). First couple convert one more time.

head - foot

[  )))))

(  ]]]]]


Continue with "plain" passegio as required, until next mutanza starts?

Second Mutanza:

First couple takes both hands.

Catch second gentlemen/ he goes in middle.

Do 2S forwards, 2back, RR.

(Presumably gentleman in middle stays still, and they circle round him.

Next, they catch second lady .


Tonight, we had the first couple advance to "catch" the second man, with everyone else advancing towards them (including the second man). Then everyone else retreats, while the second man stays still, and the first couple rotate about him (to the right seemed to work). Then all (except captured man) riprese.


Then they release him, and in next advance capture his lady, he going ahead. They circle to the left around her while others retreat, and riprese.

Second lady is released, meets second man; while first couple capture third man, all others advance as normal. Second couple convert, first couple circle to right around third man, all others retreat. Riprese.

First couple capture third lady, while second couple capture third man? (or do they wait one turn?). Circle people, then let them escape. Riprese.

First couple capture fouth man (or emerge). Second couple capture third lady. Third man emerges. Rotate. Riprese.

First couple continue with passegio? or rotate then passegio? while second couple emerge, third lady emerges, third couple convert.


Now we have:

head - foot

[[[[[  )

(((((  )


Third Mutanza:

The first couple and second man capture second lady (with advance?). Rotate. Riprese.



[music changes to second part]


Second Passegio (lumaco / snail)

All do passegio as normal?

But he who leads does it to left, taking his lady with him. As she passes, she picks up second gentleman, then the second lady, the third gentleman, and so one. Thus we form a line. The first man leads the line into a large circle, curving to the right.

He curls in, until the line forms a spiral like a snail, but there is still enough space between the branches to escape (about half an arm, says Negri). Then he turns to the left, and "unwinds" the snail, without dropping hands.

It's not clear to me whether this is done with four seguiti all going to the left, or whether you go forwards/left and back/right as before. Practically, either will work, and it will depend on how long you want the figure to take.


This is rather like an English Country Dance, in some ways.

The first couple need to know what they're doing (or be willing to make up figures on the spot), and it's helpful if the second couple understand how the progression works. The other couples can probably just follow, especially if they've done other longways progressions before.

At the end of the description of the first passegio, there is an instruction to repeat it "going to the foot": that's the same way as the first time - Negri describes his dancers as starting at the head of the room and dancing towards the foot. Several times during the mutanze the direction of the set does change, but not here.

I suspect that the symbol for a riverenza at the end of the repeat is in fact a typo for the riprese; likewise in several other places. 

Condensed version, for calling: 

Set-up: "column of couples", or, if your group does ECD, "longways set for as many couples as will" (this should get a laugh).

Intro: Rx, RR, CC

1st Passegio: 2 Seguiti (step, step, spezz), 2 seguiti backwards, 2 riprese facing  (dance three times, on 3rd the 1st couple turns around on seguiti backwards)

FIRST MUTANZA: under arm - second couple under the arms of the first couple, gentleman first - invert set

SECOND MUTANZA: under both arms - go under both arms of first couple - invert set again

THIRD MUTANZA: capture in a circle - 1st couple and 2nd man capture 2nd woman, circle with 4S, release; capture next woman - invert set

--Music changes, passeggio now SSS ... (no RR)

2nd Passeggio: Snail - 1st couple seguiti to left, woman collects man 2, slide into circle, spiral to centre, spiral out

FOURTH MUTANZA: arches - 1st couple arch, all pass through and form arch - play with arches, back into longways set

Re-establish longways: facing partner, RR, CC; 2S turning left, 2 S turning R

3rd Passeggio: cast - Rx, man 1 leads men around women; woman 1 leads women around men to own partner

FIFTH MUTANZA: leave by turns - Rx, RR, 2S circling right hands 2S circling left hands, lead off; - start Rx when couple above starts RR






There is a recording on the CD "Il Ballarino", by Jeremy Barlow. It's pretty, rather slow, and too short (just over two minutes) to complete the dance. As with so many game-dances, this one will require many minutes of music, and more as there are more dancers participating.

The music Negri gives is in 3/2, which I've interpreted as a slow compound duple (i.e. one seguito takes two bars of 3/2). His instructions - "the first part is done until they've done the first three mutanze, then the second part is done until the end of the dance" - imply that the music is in two parts. The mensural notation is split into two sections with a repeat sign, but the lute intabulation is split into three sections. For now, I assume that the first section - everything up to the first repeat sign, in either notation - belongs to the early part of the dance.

That first section of the music has twelve bars, which neatly fits "four seguiti, two riprese". It's two strains of four bars each (2 seguiti forwards, 2 seguiti backwards) with a little conclusion that falls into two two-bars units (2 riprese).

The rest of the music is 22 bars. In the mensural notation that's written as one long section. In the lute tablature it's 8 bars, a repeat mark, and another 14 bars.

The phrases are 4 bars, a near-repeat for another 4 bars (completing the 8-bar section in the tablature); then another 14 bars without a clear break (perhaps one after the first 4?).

The music on the CD above (Il Ballarino, Jeremy Barlow) plays the first section twice, and the rest three times (following the structure of the mensural notation).

About this translation: 

Translated by Katherine Davies, 1/2008



The Chain of Love, by the author, which is a dance for many Gentlemen and Ladies togther.


In honour of the most Illustrious and Excellent Lady, Lady Margherita Somaglia, e Peretta


In this dance, Catena d'Amore, there is often much disorder, especially at the the beginning, because the gentlemen rush to take the ladies, and especially when two gentlemen go to take one lady, who, so as not to injure either, sometimes refrains from going to dance; Therefore each gentleman ought to go quietly to take the lady he prefers; and to that end this Catena can give each one greater ease in dancing; if they do in the passegio and the mutanze the Seguiti ordinarii and the continenze and the riprese as will be described, in their own place, that is, in doing the passeggi, and the mutanze, noting that all the steps and actions that they do in this dance begin with the left foot, and then finish with the right, and then he who leads the dance, should not begin until each has taken his lady, then everyone is arranged in order in a column.


The first passage

They will do the Riverenza grave together, and two Riprese turning themselves to face, and two Continenze then four Seguiti, two going forwards, and two returning somewhat backwards, turning the face to the ladies, then they do two Riprese, and return to do the four Seguiti and the Riprese going to the foot of the hall; at which, he who leads will do two Seguiti forwards, and the other two turning to the right hand and meeting the second file. The others in this time do the Seguiti forwards and backwards as they did before. Then they do two Riverenza [indicated - a usual - by a single-character contraction, so could be a typo for .R. , or two riprese] all together.


First Mutanza

The Gentleman of the second row passes under the arm of the him, who who leads the dance standing in a square; they do the Seguiti forwards and backwards and the Riprese all together, as above. Then that man of the second row will go forwards with two Seguiti turning his own lady to the right; meeting the third row, and they will do as the first, in which time he who leads will do two Seguiti forwards, he of the third row will pass under the same arm, as above, going always a little forwards to the head of the dance, then the others will do hand in hand that which he who leads the dance has done, each one finishing in his own place, he who leads turns to the head of the dance facing the second file, as was done the first time.


Second Mutanza


Then he takes both hands of his own lady turned to face, the second gentleman passes in the middle of the arms, and they do the actions as they are already done. First the Gentleman passes forwards, and his lady enters in the middle, and at the end of the tempo they turn to the right, and then he takes both hands of his lady; and he who follows goes in the middle, and the same rule shall hold doing the same actions; that is, he who leads, goes a little forwards, and does the same, the others then do hand in hand, all resting, as a chain/enchained, then they have finished the mutanza, he who leads will do the passage until the others hone their own part, then he will turn with his lady to the foot of the dance facing the first file.


Third Mutanza


The first two gentlemen, and the lady who leads he dance, take hands all three in a circle, and the other lady stays in the middle, and they do the same actions as above, and he who leads does the same with the next row, the gentleman taking his own lady by hand turning to the foot of the dance; as was done before, then the whole file does the same mutanza, finishing when each gentelman has his own place, when they do the passeggio together.


Mutatione della Sonata:


Il Secondo Passeggio: (Snail)


He who leads the dance does the Passeggio to the left, then his lady with the right hand takes the left of the gentleman who follows, and the lady of that man takes the hand of the other gentleman, and so hand in hand they all take by the hand and do the seguito and this is done in a great circle turning to the right; then they go sliding in the fashion of a snail/spiral staircase going all near about half an arm. After that he who leads turns to the left, and returns to undo the snail without releasing hands.


Fourth Mutanza:

Then he who leads the ballo goes with his lady to the end of the file and the last one with his lady raise their arms, and with them they pass under and all the others follow to pass under hand in hand, such that the last two remain turned face to face with their armed enchained, and then they return to pass under the arms of the second file, standing with their arms enchained, and thus they follow hand in hand, resting all turned face to face with the arms, as formerly was done in the form of a chain, and the same is undone in this manner: the first gentleman who leads the dance turns to the left with his lady, and they pass under all the arms of the whole file, holding always by hand until the Chain is undone, but not dong ? how to the ladies to pass under the arms if they can do the actions they will follow, they then do all together to the left flank two seguiti and another two seguiti to the right with two continenze and two riprese they release hands and do four seguiti two turning to the left and as many turning to the right.


Third Passage


All together they do the riverenza grave, and he who leads will turn to the right, all the the other gentlemen follow him, doing always seguiti and they stop all facing a lady and the the riverenza together and the gentlemen stay still and the lady who leads the dance with the others together they turn to the left going to the foot of the dance, with the said seguiti, each one opposite her own man.


Fifth Mutanza:

They do the riverenza grave together and he who leads, with his lady alone, does two riprese then takes the right hand and does two seguiti turning to that hand, passing the one into the place of the other then releasing, and they do another two seguiti turning to the left, returning each to his own place with a little bow, then he takes the hand of his lady, and progressing together always with the Seguiti he goes to pause in place doing the riverenza in this time, he who follows with his lady does the Riverenza and two Riprese then they take right hands and do the Seguiti that were done formerly, returning to their own place, then they take the the hand accompanying her to her place with the actions described above, the others all hand in hand with their own ladies will do the same, and according the this rule the dance is finished gracefully and without confusion; one could do in this Catena many other fantasies, but not wishing to be tedious, I think I have given enough.


The music for Catena d'Amore, with the intabulation for lute.The first part is done until the third mutanza has been done, then the second part is done until the end of the dance.