Dance Dance Revolution - 15th Century Style

When ballroom dancing meant intricate moves with different partner, at court among kings and knights and ladies-can you imagine everyone's eyes on you if you didn't know the moves?

There are formalities you must follow if you are to be introduced in the court of Lorenzo di Medici, cara Carlotta, he says. The proper bow or curtsy is essential. He dances, while reciting, Left foot forward, left foot back. Bend both knees. Then straighten and bring both feet together.

Leonardo da Vinci, Edge of Yesterday: Da Vinci's Way

So Maestro Leonardo da Vinci instructs Charley in making proper dance moves at the court of Florence in the second book in the Edge of Yesterday series. Bowing, curtsying: these were essential manners in Renaissance Italy.

Unlike the moves in DDR, to match flashing lights and digital music, one would match intricately choreographed steps with a partner. There are many early Renaissance dances Leonardo da Vinci might have known, ranging from slow, stately dances (bassadance, pavane, almain) to fast, lively dances (galliard, coranto, canario). In the formal slow dances, dancers' feet apparently never left the ground. These were styled the dance basse, or low dance. The more energetic dances with leaps and lifts were called the haute dance, or high dance. Some were choreographed, others were improvised on the spot.

As the arts and sciences flourished during the Renaissance, dance quickly rose to prominence. From preserved music and literature, we know the names of these lost dances, which include the balli, carola (carole), stampita (estampe, istampita, stantipes), salterello, rotta, trotto and farandole.

The epitome of Italian court dance was the ballo. The 15th century balli were beautifully designed choreographies featuring a wide variety of steps, figures and rhythms.

Dancing today opens up a whole new world of storytelling and self-expression, with a variety of styles, from hip-hop to ballet, and from moonwalk to salsa to country. There's even a formal grad school challenge to Dance Your Thesis, for scientists who want to translate their original theories into motion.

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