Guglielmo da Pesaro

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GUGLIELMO DA PESARO (known as Guglielmo Ebreo ; 15th century), Italian dance master. He was a pupil of Domenichino da Piacenza, founder of the new school of dancing at the court of Ferrara, and taught in Florence, where he was apparently attached to the court of the Medici. Here he compiled (c. 1463) his "Treatise on the Art of Dancing," one of the most memorable works of the sort produced in Renaissance Italy. It includes two dances composed by the young Lorenzo de' Medici. In 1475 Guglielmo supervised the pageantry at a resplendent ducal wedding in Pesaro. After this he was apparently converted to Christianity under the name of Giovanni Ambrogio. He was then in the service of the Duchess of Milan who sent him to teach dancing at the Court of Naples. In 1481 he was dancing master to seven-year-old Isabella d'Este at Ferrara. Guglielmo introduced the fashion of the moresche, embodying both dance and mimicry, before the grand spectacle. He composed many balletti that were revolutionary for his time. His writing makes clear that he did not see as his final aim the mere compilation of dances. He attempted to explain the fundamentals of dancing, giving considerable thought to the relationship between dance and music. Guglielmo outlined six prerequisites for all dancers of which the first three were of enduring importance: misura, the dancer's ability to keep time to the musical rhythm; memoria, the ability to recollect steps in correct sequence; partire del terreno, the ability to do the right movement in space. Though he intended only to compose dances for courtly balls, Guglielmo outlined the requirements for the artistic dancer for all times.


O. Kinkeldey, in: Studies in Jewish Bibliography and Related SubjectsFreidus Memorial Volume (1929), 329–72, includes bibliography; C. Roth, The Jews in the Renaissance (1959), 276–81, 363; F. Reyna, Des origines du ballet (1955), 42–49; A. Michel, in: Medievalia et Humanistica, 3 (1945), 121–4 (Eng.).

[Cecil Roth,

Walter Sorell]

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Guglielmo da Pesaro

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