Documentary Sources in Dance

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in Dance

Bodleian Library: MS Douce 139 (1250)—This manuscript from Coventry, England, now housed in Oxford's Bodleian Library, contains the earliest known English instrumental dance.

Chansonnier du Roi (c. 1280)—This collection of eleven instrumental dances, copied into a manuscript now located in Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale fr. 844), is the only medieval collection of French estampies and carols.

Antonio Cornazano, Libro dell'arte del danzare or Book on the Art of Dancing (1455)—This book, the second known treatise on dancing, was written by poet, statesman, and humanist Antonio Cornazano, who dedicated it to his student, Ippolita Maria Sforza, one of the first ballerinas known by name.

Dança general de la Muerte (c. 1400)—This poem of 79 stanzas, originating in Spain, describes the dance of death. The title, translated as Common Dance of Death, acknowledges that mortality is a universal experience.

Domenico da Piacenza, De la arte di ballare et Danzare or On the Art of Dancing and Choreography (1445)—This work by one of the first dancing masters is the earliest known treatise on dancing and the model for those that followed. It begins with a discussion of dance theory and then provides a set of specific choreographies for balli and bassadanze.

Guglielmo Ebreo (Giovanni Ambrosio), De pratica seu arte tripudii or On the Practice or Art of Dancing (1463)—Written by the best known dancing master of the fifteenth century, this dance treatise exists in a total of seven manuscript versions, one of which contains a list of thirty important events in which the author participated.

Jofre Goixà, Doctrina de compondre dictatz (1300)—This Catalan treatise on poetry gives instructions on how to compose a dansa.

Johannes Grocheio, De musica (c. 1300)—This music treatise includes the earliest detailed descriptions of both vocal and instrumental dances and dance music.

Magnus liber organi (c. 1250)—This book of music for the liturgy (the title means the "Great Book of Organum") contains at its end the largest repertory of medieval sacred dance songs with music. The sixty short dance songs in this collection, which originated in Paris, are nearly all in a verse and refrain format known as rondeau.

Guillaume Molinier, Lays d'amors (1328)—This book, which presents a set of rules for composing troubadour poetry, includes a description of the estampie dance poem.