Domenico da Piacenza

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Domenico da Piacenza


Dancing master

The First Dancing Master.

Domenico da Piacenza (c. 1390–1477) is the earliest known dancing master. He was born in Piacenza (northern Italy), and worked in the major northern Italian courts, including that of the Sforzas in Milan and the Este in Ferrara. He wrote De la arte di ballare et Danzare (On the Art of Dancing and Choreography) in 1445, the earliest surviving dance treatise, and taught a number of Italian dancing masters including the other two authors of dance treatises, Guglielmo Ebreo (also known as Giovanni Ambrosio) and Antonio Cornazano. On the invitation of Duke Francesco Sforza, Domenico, along with Guglielmo and Antonio, took part in the elaborate celebration for the wedding of Tristano Sforza and Beatrice d'Este in Milan. A year later he was appointed to the Este court in Ferrara where he was listed as "spectabilis miles" (worthy knight). Other sources refer to him as a Knight of the Golden Spur. He remained in Ferrara until his death 21 years later.

Lasting Influence.

His treatise was taken as the model by both of his renowned pupils, whose works followed Domenico's format of beginning the treatise with a discussion of dance theory and then providing a set of specific choreographies for balli and bassadanze. It is clear that Domenico was well educated; in his discussion of the aesthetics of dancing he refers to Aristotle. Among his balli are two dance-dramas, "La mercanzia" and "La sobria," which are considered by some dance historians to be the earliest ballets.


The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Ed.

Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. 29 vols. 2nd ed. (New York: Grove's Dictionaries, 2001).

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Domenico da Piacenza

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