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La Volta


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#16 glebb

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Posted 06 June 2003 - 06:42 PM

Thanks for that (he says with a grin)!

#17 Alexandra

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Posted 06 June 2003 - 06:45 PM

Seriously! Because of the heavy clothing, and the lack of opportunity for a young couple to make more than casual conversation -- if that -- (when you got to court, of course, all bets were off, but the way there was fraught with propriety) -- dancing was a chance to check out the merchandise. If a man has a wooden leg, a volta will show it up. Veils could hide smallpox scars, but dancing let you get closer to see, etc. Thoinot Arbeau uses this in his helpful hints to Capriol.

#18 glebb

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Posted 06 June 2003 - 07:05 PM

That makes a lot of sense. In episode three of "Elizabeth R", The Queen's favorite is flirting with the woman who will become his second wife, while they are dancing La Volta.

#19 Alexandra

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Posted 06 June 2003 - 07:31 PM

You could do a lot of flirting in those dances, and exchange witty repartee as well. Shake a leg :)

#20 psavola

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 01:20 AM

The Volta was indeed for a time Queen Elizabeth's favourite dance, and while it was not quite perfectly respectable in all eyes it was not morally too dubious either. Perhaps the equivalent of shaking one's hips instead of just stepping side to side in a disco. And yes, the Queen did indeed do several galliards before breakfast each morning. (The Volta is musically a type of a galliard, with a variation of the galliard rhytm - the galliard has a peculiar, unique, very recongnizable beat, "pulse", which, when played correctly, will make your head nod and feet tap. :D )

The moral problem with the Volta was not so much the fact that partners were close together, but that it required the man to lift the woman, and pivot turn her about three-quarters around. This sends the skirts flying, unless the woman uses her free hand to keep them down. I know from experience that if I wear a farthingale, the throw/jump takes off badly and my hand is not where it should, the spectators are sure to see at least a calf or knee. :eek:

(That said, the Volta is a fast, fun dance, and when both partners dance it well, the "wheeeeee" effect is amazing.)

As Alexandra noted, dancing was one of the few ways young people could get close together. While it would be misleading to say, that dances commonly contained elements of body contact more intimate than touching hands, some did. Several surviving dances have the man lift and/or turn the woman in different ways, in one the partners embrance.

And Arbeau indeed advices young Capriol of the usefulness of dance in finding out the health and close-up attractiveness of a girl. The discussion is about the virtues of dancing, and the main argument is that dancing is a gentlemaly pastime which - unlike, for example, tennis - allows one to meet the girls. Checking them out is just one of the side points raised. Pleasing the girls is not mentioned, because at that time all young gentlemen were expected to be willing to dance. (There are some warnings about things girls do not like, however, in the interest of keeping their favour, and advice on how to behave if a girl does not want to dance.) Consequently, this unequal world had many dances with more male than female parts, and some "male showoffs only" dances, where the women pretty much walk around and stand still charmingly while admiring the great danseur. ;)

While the Volta itself is a bit too quick for much flirting, several other renaissance dances are made for courtship, which they regularly seem to have been used for - and which some circles of course fiercely disapproved. :D As a note of interest to a ballet board, many dances contain small courtship games in their choreography with a slow opening section, one or more preening solos for both partners, and a finale which they dance together. Others have mimed love stories or references to local popular song lyrics. Many dances have names from somebody's nightmare of the current top ten list - our group is currently learning Nido d'Amore (The Love Nest) and Gloria d'Amore (The Glory of Love). Apparently they loved to play around the edges of the ideal of female chastity with the idea of courtly love. :rolleyes:

Päivi

#21 Alexandra

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 04:49 AM

Thank you for that, Päivi. The games playing -- some of our children's games (Ring Around the Rosy, about the plague -- "Ashes, ashes, all fall down") were adult entertainment then.

I don't know the name of it, but there's a court dance -- a real one -- in Nureyev's "Romeo and Juliet" that he adapted as a "Wheel of Fortune" dance. There are two circles, the inner one moves to the left, the outer to the right, and at certain points in the music they stop. (In the ballet, each stop brings two people whose fortunes will be intertwined together.)

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 01:31 PM

That's "cotillion" form. Today, it would be called a "Paul Jones".

#23 glebb

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Posted 01 September 2003 - 05:38 PM

The plague kept Henrys third wife Jane Seymour out of London for most of her brief time as his wife. She must have had a coronation before the birth of their son but I am not sure. Does anyone know if the very young Elizabeth lived with Henry and Jane?

Speaking of Ring Around the Rosy, there is wonderful footage of the five children of Nicholas and Alexandra playing this game on the deck of their yacht Standart.

#24 Mel Johnson

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Posted 01 September 2003 - 06:03 PM

I think that "the Lady Elizabeth" (she had to be bastardized in order to legitimize Henry and Jane's marriage) was given her own household under the supervision of a governess reportable to the King. During the rest of Henry's life, Lady Bryan and two others (one named Hamperdowne, I believe) were named governesses. Her lot became a bit easier under the reign of her half-brother, but that came later, as did her boarding with the Seymour family.

#25 dirac

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 09:28 AM

I believe Mel is thinking of Katherine Champernowne, Elizabeth's beloved Kat Ashley.

#26 Mel Johnson

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 01:52 PM

That's right, thanks! :thumbsup:

Elizabeth was set up with her own separate maintenance arrangement at Hatfield House, and never spent any time with Henry and Jane, nor with Henry and Anne of Cleves (hey, Henry hardly spent any time with her), nor with Henry and Katherine Howard. It wasn't until Queen Catherine Parr that Lady Elizabeth was welcomed back at court.

#27 dirac

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 02:37 PM

Catherine Howard had other fish to fry. But then she didn't last too long either, poor thing. I suspect Elizabeth may have been relieved to be away from court, all things considered. :thumbsup:

#28 glebb

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 02:44 AM

It may also be possible that Elizabeth had too much fun under Catherine Parrs roof.

#29 Mel Johnson

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 02:52 AM

Given the proclivities of the fun-lovin' Lord Admiral, I'd have to say that was a distinct possibility!

#30 dirac

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 04:27 PM

I kind of doubt that Elizabeth really enjoyed the enterprising lord's forays into her bedroom. (Goodness only knows what the queen dowager thought.) What a household. :ermm:

So much for staying on topic --


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