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Dance Type: 
Number of dancers: 
About this choreography: 
Katherine Davies, 2015, drawing on earlier in-class reconstructions, from 2008 onwards.

Five people in a line: man, woman, man, woman, man; one behind the other, with about four steps between each dancer and the next.

SALTARELLO (12 tempi of music - 4-tempo phrase played three times)

11 tempi of saltarello, beginning with a movimento

BASSADANZA (13 tempi - 6 1/2-tempo phrase played twice)

Man at the back and man in the middle only, each circling the woman in front of him, going first to her right side (i.e. counter-clockwise), and returing to place - 4 1/2 tempi

  • 2 doppio, LR
  • 2 contrapassi LL, (i.e. two doppii both on the left foot) (takes 9 beats - LRL& LRL&a - 1 1/2 tempi)
  • ripresa right 

Women only - 2 tempi

  • volta del gioioso (2 sempii, RL, then ripresa R, making a complete turn in place)

Women only - 4 1/2 tempi

Each woman circles the man in front of her, using the same path and steps that the men did above: counter-clockwise, 2 doppii, 2 contrapassi (in 1 1/2 tempi), ripresa 

Men only - 2 tempi

All three men do a volta del gioioso, as the women did above.


All, in a line, following one another

  • 3 contrapassi, LLL
  • mezavolta L
  • 2 contrapassi, RRR 
  • mezavolta R 


At this point most dancers stop. 

There are an ambigous, or transitional, two tempi in the music. 

First man only: mezavolta left (swivel counter-clockwise), in preparation, end facing the line of dancers. This can be showy - make the most of it!


SALTARELLO - 5 tempi?

First and last man only weave through the line of dancers to change ends, with 4 tempi of saltarello

First man:

  1. saltarello L to first woman's right side (i.e start by moving to your own left)
  2. saltarello R to the middle man's left side
  3. L to the second woman's right side
  4. R to the rear, where you do a mezavolta

Last man:

Start with a salto (jump) in place (during front man's mezavolta?) 

  1. saltarello L to woman's left side (i.e start by moving to your own left)
  2. saltarello R to the middle man's right side
  3. L to the second woman's left side
  4. R to the front, where you do a mezavolta (probably - see next saltarello section)

There will be some extra music before the bassadanza - pause, make the most of the stillness.

BASSADANZA - 3 tempi

Women only: 3 doppii, exchanging places, clockwise

Front woman: start on the right foot; go past the right side of the man in the middle (i.e. you will begin by turning backwards and to your own right, and will move clockwise). End in the place of the other woman, facing forwards.

Rear woman: start on the left foot; go past the left side of the man in the middle (i.e. you will begin by forwards and to your own left, and will move clockwise). End in the place of the other woman, facing forwards.

SALTARELLO - 4 tempi?

First and last men only: 3 saltarelli, RLR, to circle the woman closest to you and return to place

(New) first man: start on the right foot, go first to the right side of the woman (i.e. circle her clockwise - you'll start facing her)

(New) last man: start on the right foot, go first to the left side of the woman (i.e. circle her clockwise - you'll start behind her)

There will be some extra beats at the end - pause, and make the most of it.

BASSADANZA - 3 tempi

The women change places again, with three doppii, as above: circle clockwise, the front woman starts with the right foot and the rear woman with the left.

SALTARELLO - 3 1/2 or 4 tempi

Middle man only: the middle man has until now been still, and posing (et ha posata - "who has posed" OR "who has paused"). He now circles the woman in front of him, counter-clockwise (going to her right), with

  • salteto (to prepare)
  • 3 saltarelli, LRL
  • pause

PIVA - 8 tempi (4-tempo phrase played twice)

  • men movimento
  • women movimento
  • men voltatonda with three sempii, LRL
  • women movimento
  • men movimento
  • women voltatonda with three sempii, LRL

The dance may be repeated. The original first and last men have changed places, and roles.




Cornazano says this dance is "somewhat like a skirmish" (quasi simile ad una scaramuccia).


The 4 1/2 tempi of bassazanza are hard to count.

  1. Doppio left: L-&-R-L-&-a counting 1-2-3-4-5-6
  2. Doppio right:  R-&-L-R-&-a counting 1-2-3-4-5-6
  3. 2 contrapassi, taking the third tempo and half of the fourth tempo: L-R-L-&-L-R-L-&a, counted 1-2-3-4-5-6-1-2-3
  4. ripresa, taking six beats as usual, but danced across the second half of the fourth tempo and the first half of the fifth tempo

It's as if there is a phrase that is 3 1/2 tempi long (2 doppii, then 2 contrapassi), finishing with a half-tempo, then a new tempo starts the next 3-tempo phrase, which contains the ripresa of the men and then the women's voltatonda. 

Note that neither Domenico nor Cornazano names "contrapassi": they just draw a distinction between doubles "beginning (comencando) with the left foot" and doubles "on the left foot" (suxo el pie sinistro) or "one one foot" (in s'uno pede). This is usual for Domenico, but later in the dance (in the quadernaria section immediately following) Cornazano specifies contrapassi by name.


There are three and a half tempi (or four tempi, depending how your musicians interpret it) in which to do 3 contrapassi and a mezavolta.

This suggests that, in this case, the crucial element of the contrapassi is that the series of doubles is done on the same foot, not that they're contracted - shorter than 'normal' doubles.

So, tempo by tempo:

  1. left-right-left-change weight (tiny step back onto the right foot, lowering the heels)
  2. left-right-left-change weight 
  3. left-right-left-pause
  4. mezavolta (pivot counter-clockwise on the left foot)(half tempo)

It's not clear from the text whether the second set of contrapassi should be on the left or the right foot. I like to do them on the right. This follows the pattern of other dances where a second set of contrapassi is specified as being done on the other side. Aesthestically: I like the moment at the end of the mezavolta where one balances with the right foot ready, before moving forward into the steps on the other foot; I like the alternation of counter-clockwise with clockwise mezavolte (both within this passage, and for the first man, between this passage and the next).

TIMING the SALTARELLO where the men weave

The text specifies four tempi of saltarello, but the music has more than that - at least five, depending how you count things

We generally start dancing saltarello at the start, where the misura is most clearly marked, then use the extra beats to 'settle' before the bassadanza. It can be a pleasing moment of stillness after vigorous movement. Domenico finishes the description of the movement with e afermansse tuti dui (and both stop/pause) - often a clue to a pause through some beats of music, not just the instantaneous cessation of movement.

There is a similar pause at the end of the next section of saltarelli, in which the first and last men circle the women in three saltarello, where the music has 3 1/2 or 4 tempi.


The weaving pattern is straightforward, and prevents collissions, just as Cornazano says.

The circling pattern is less so, at least when using Smith's (usually excellent) translation. Skimming from Smith's translation - "The men ... return to their original places" - I had the men swap places a second time. This gives a contradiction at the end of the dance, where the original first man should end at the rear. Domenico, however, says only that the men return ale loro poste - "to their places".

The word "original" is confusing here. Ale loro poste - "to their places" - presents a question - their places at the beginning of the dance? or at the beginning of the current figure? - that must be answered from clues elsewhere in the dance (here: clearly "at the beginning of the figure", as that is compatible with the later comment that they've changed places since the beginning of the dance). "To their original places" leads a casual reader to choose "at the beginning of the dance" without considering the question.

The question can go either way - Domenico also uses  tornano ale poste sue - "returning to their places" - immediately afterwards to describe the women exchanging places for the second time. Context and extra clues are needed to interpret the phrase.