Dance, Spectacle, and the Body Politick, 1250–1750

Dance, Spectacle, and the Body Politick, 1250–1750

Edited by Jennifer Nevile
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/25/2008
Format: Paperback 18 b&w illus., 15 music exx.
ISBN: 978-0-253-21985-5
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From the mid-13th to the mid-18th century the ability to dance was an important social skill for both men and women. Dance performances were an integral part of court ceremonies and festivals and, in the 17th and 18th centuries, of commercial theatrical productions. Whether at court or in the public theater danced spectacles were multimedia events that required close collaboration among artists, musicians, designers, engineers, and architects as well as choreographers. In order to fully understand these practices, it is necessary to move beyond a consideration of dance alone, and to examine it in its social context. This original collection brings together the work of 12 scholars from the disciplines of dance and music history. Their work presents a picture of dance in society from the late medieval period to the middle of the 18th century and demonstrates how dance practices during this period participated in the intellectual, artistic, and political cultures of their day.

Author Bio

Jennifer Nevile is an Honorary Research Fellow in Music and Music Education at the University of New South Wales. Her research on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century dance practices and their relationship with other contemporary artistic practices, as well as choreographic analysis of individual works and genres, has been published in twenty articles and book chapters. She is also the author of The Eloquent Body: Dance and Humanist Culture in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Indiana University Press, 2004).


“From the mid-13th to the mid-18th century the ability to dance was an important social skill for both men and women. Dance performances were an integral part of court ceremonies and festivals, and in the 17th and 18th centuries, of commercial theatrical productions. This book provides a thorough overview of dance history from the Medieval era through the Baroque.”

“Makes a serious and much needed contribution to cultural history, filling a gap that to my knowledge is not approached in any other volume. It should be of interest to everyone in the field of cultural history. It provides as complete an overview of dance history as one could hope for that period.”
 — Timothy J. McGee, Trent University

“The combination of so many well-researched articles on dance, ranging from the Medieval era to the Georgian period, makes this collection invaluable to anyone interested in dance history.”
 — Mary Jane Warner, York University

“Jennifer Nevile's accessibly written anthology seeks to explore many now obscure aspects of early dance: contributions by twelve scholars elucidate the fascinating, multifarious nature of dance from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century. . . . contributors demonstrate a high scholarly standard and pursue their chosen themes with assurance and passion. The great forte of this collection is its ambitious, multidisciplinary range, and the authors’ practical insight, honed by years of performance experience, represents a rare feat indeed. The book should be required reading in dance studies.62 Summer 2009”
 — Barbara Ravelhofer, Univeristy of Dunham

“A big bite of dance history scholarship is undertaken in this study, and it does not seem to be too big for Jennifer Nevile, the editor of the volume, to chew. . . . Congratulations to . . . Nevile for bringing this impressive collection to life. I have profited considerably from reading the offerings presented here, and I am certain others will, too. I will recommend readings from this volume to my students for years to come. Spring 2009”
 — Richard Semmens, University of Western Ontario, Professor of Music History

“Nevile . . . has assembled an intriguing book that in many ways serves as an encyclopedia of early dance—a feat not easily accomplished in one volume. . . . [T]his is a fine resource for those who research this specialized period of dance history. An excellent glossary and bibliography and a 'list of dance treatises, manuscripts, modern editions, and translations' complete the book. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and researchers.March 2009”
 — Choice

“This is a great book for understanding music, dance and the part they played in the period covering 1250-1750, in Europe. It is filled with a whole cosmology of ideas. How the arc of five centuries connect, are enmeshed, develop and flow into our own day. This book is a treasure.Winter 2008”
 — Paul-James Dwyer, Toronto Early Music Quarterly

“The balanced assortment of general introductions and detailed case studies makes Dance, Spectacle, and the Body Politick, 1250-1750 a useful collection and an engaging 'read' for dance enthusiasts, reconstructors, and scholars alike.”
 — Emily Winerock , Dance Chronicle

“[This] collection more than fulfills its goal of opening up pre-1750 dance studies to a general readership, but will also be of interest to the more informed dance historian. ”
 — Historical Dance

“Dance, Spectacle, and the Body Politick makes an important contribution to existing dance scholarship ... The essays in Nevile’s collection add significantly to this diligent work. Every essay is both informative and interesting, and each author provides a valuable list of further readings on the topic.Volume 16 Issue 2 2011”
 — European Legacy

“This well-researched and original collection of essays on early dance addresses the picture of dance in society from 1250 to 1750. The interdisciplinary and wide-ranging approach of the book makes it very valuable for dance historians, musicologists and historians of ideas alike, as well as anyone interested in dance history. Issue 78, Autumn 2010”
 — Cahiers Elisabethains

“. . . this ambitious anthology . . . manages to fill an academic void . . . .Vol. 35.1 2010”
 — Nicole Haitzinger, University of Salzburg

“An important book for any musician, theatrical performer, dancer, historian, reconstructor or anyone involved in recreating the work of this time period. Essays with detailed notes, glossary, bibliography and a list of dance treatises, manuscripts, modern editions and published translations are worth the price of the book alone. A great book for understanding music, dance and the part they played in the period covering 1250-1750, in Europe.Summer 2009”
 — Paul-James Dwyer, Dance International

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Table of Contents

Part 1. Introduction and Overview
1. Dance in Europe 1250<N>1750

Part 2. Dance at Court and in the City
2. Dance in Late Thirteenth-Century Paris
3. Dance and Society in Quattrocento Italy
4. Dance in Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century France

Part 3. Dance and the Public Theater
5. Pierre Beauchamps and the Public Theater
6. Dance in the London Theaters c. 1700<N>1750

Part 4. Choreographic Structure and Music
7. The Relationship between Dance and Music in Fifteenth-Century Italian Dance Practice
8. The Basse Dance c. 1445<N>c. 1545
9. Choreographic Structure in Baroque Dance

Part 5. Dance and the State
10. Your Most Humble Subject, Cesare Negri Milanese
11. The Politics of Ballet at the Court of Louis XIV
12. Mr. Isaac's The Pastorall and Issues of "Party"

Part 6. Dance, Society, and the Cosmos
13. Plato's Philosophy of Dance
14. Moral Views on Dance
15. Order, Proportion, and Geometric Forms: The Cosmic Structure of Dance, Grand Gardens, and Architecture during the Renaissance

List of Dance Treatises, Manuscripts, Modern Editions, and Translations
List of Contributors