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Also known as: 

Prexonera, Prisonera, Presoniera, Prigioniera, Pregionera

Title translation: 
the Prisoner
Dance Type: 
Number of dancers: 

For a couple: begin side by side, holding hands.

First section: bassadanza

             together: cc (lr), sss (lrl) (weight change), d (l) (weight change), R (l)

Second section: bassadanza

             man only: ss (lr), 3 contrapassi (lll)

             woman only: ss (rl), 3 contrapassi (rrr); man does mv as woman approaches

             both: ss (lr), to change places, man going 'below', woman 'above' (take right hands if you like)

             both: R(l)

Repeat second section, with woman leading.

Third section: piva

            8 pive, together, holding hands

Fourth section:

            man m, woman m, both ripresa, separating;

            woman m, man m, both ripresa, separating.

Fifth section:

            4 tempi of saltarello, 1 to approach (changing sides if you want to repeat), 3 together.

- repeat whole dance, if you like, with the woman leading -


There are seven sources for this dance, and their intructions are rather varied. This version is mostly based on Domenico's version, but sometimes another source is used if it fits better with the music I have (from Musica Subterranea's 'Incantare'), or if we found we preferred it in classes. Alternative steps, from other MSS, are included below (and could be used to 'improvise' ornaments).


First section: The version above requires a weight-change before and after the doppio (a doppio on the right would be more natural here). Domenico only specifies starting on the left for the continetie and the riverenza, but all the other sources specify that the doppio is done on the left (some say 'beginning with the left and ending with the right). Possibly the weight-change happens before the simples, but I think the attention given to the description of this double in the later sources suggests that anything odd happens here. I do the third single in the usual way (stepping with the left foot, and leaving the right trailing not far behind), then quickly transfer my weight back on to my right foot during the vuodo (perhaps this is the ornamental move called the cambiamento? - thanks Patrick, for this insight), perform the doppio in the usual time, and again, transfer my weight to during the vuodo.

Second section: Most sources say the man should turn as the end of his contrapassi, only Domenico says that he should suddenly turn in the vuodo of the woman's last step. I think Domenico's version is more dramatic.

Domenico makes no reference to contrapassi here, but has the man leave with two simples and two doubles (on the right). Other sources have two doubles (on the left) or two or three contrapassi. Any of these will work; I use three contrapassi because Musica Subterranea's recording makes contrapassi so easy and pleasant here.

When the couple change places, Domenico only says that they may take hands if they wish. Three sources say they should take right hands, but we found this uncomfortable and so took left hands. Another three sources say they move together (no mention of circling). I'd like to find a solution that uses right hands but otherwise complies with Domenico's instructions; until then, we take left hands, or none (but still pass by left shoulders).

Third section: Domenico has eight tempi of piva, but all the other sources give four tempi of saltarallo tedesco instead (specifying further than each tempo contains a doppio and a ripresa). Either will work, but you should make sure your partner knows what you intend to do (or is comfortable with variation), and that you have compatible interpretations of saltarello tedesco, if necessary.

Fourth section: Domenico calls for movimenti, the other sources variously for movimenti, schosseti, and passecti; I assume they are all the same movement.

Domenico has the couple separate with four passiti traverso. The other sources call variously for the couple to face and make passeti (three or four) drawing back, or to stand side by side and draw apart with riprese. The common element is that the couple separate, and in practice (if you commonly use three movements in a riprese) the difference between three or four steps backwards or sideways, separating, and a ripresa separating, is not large. I used riprese in class, because we'd learned enough new steps that evening.

Fifth section: Domenico calls for the couple to make a movimento together. As there is no extra time in the music, I take this to be the introductory movimento that begins the upcoming saltarelli

Domenico has the dance end after the four tempi of saltarello. One source includes a final pair of continenzie after this (which wouldn't fit my music).  Three sources call for a repeat of the dance "with the woman going above/forwards". This might mean simply that the woman does everything first on the repeat, and takes the leading role. It might also mean that she does this from the man's position, in which case the couple will have to change sides. The solutions that occur to me are to head in the opposite direction after the first saltarello, or for the woman to cross in front of the man during the first saltarello. We've been doing the latter. It's good, because the woman ends up a little in front of the man, as well as to his left, and so is ready to take the lead; however, it might not work well with a trained skirt.


The Musica Subterranea recording plays the entire dance twice, and then plays the first section again. I treat the repeat of the first section as a pleasant musical coda, and an opportunity to chat to my partner, but you could - of course - dance to it.