Del’s Top 10 List of Dance Books

This is a list of dance books, sources, articles, or magazines you need to have, and where to get them from:


# 1

Thoinot Arbeau, “Orchesographie”, available in translation from Dover Books. Edited by Julia Sutton. Translated by Mary Stewart Evans. Longres: Jehan des Preyz, 1589; reprint, New York, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1967. ISBN: 0-486-21745-0 cloth.

It doesn’t matter how many times you think you’ve read this, you will always find something in it you didn’t think was there. Besides, you can’t go to heaven without at least one dog-eared copy of this book.


# 2

Guglielmo Ebreo di Pesaro “On the Practice or Art of Dancing”, Translated by Barbara Sparti. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. ISBN: 019-816-2332.

Despite the fact that William Smith’s 2 volume opus is now available, this book is still very useful. It is now available in paperback, and somewhat cheaper than Smith’s work. It contains a lot of useful background information and is probably a better introduction to 15th C dance than Smith.


# 3

A subscription to “Letter of Dance”. Although it has been published sporadically, it contains a lot of useful information about renaissance dance. It is useful both inside and outside of the SCA.


# 4

Playford, John, publ. (author unknown) The English Dancing Master. London: John Playford, 1651. This is available in a Dance Books edition, as well as being available in electronic format from the internet.

This is another book that will surprise you if you think you’ve read it all but haven’t. Another book that you can’t go to heaven without, although it strictly speaking belongs outside of the renaissance period and in the baroque.


# 5

Caroso, Fabritio. Nobilta di dame. Translated by Julia Sutton. Venice: Presso il Muschio, 1600; reprint, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. ISBN: 0-19-311917-X. Also now available from Dover Books.

If you’re going to get involved in the 16th Century Italian dances then you probably want to start here. This is one of the two english translations, and although I don’t find that the translation is as useful as Kendall’s (because it doesn’t have a facing page transcription), Caroso’s dances are easier to tackle than Negri’s and you’ll probably have more initial success reconstructing from this book than you will have reconstructing from Negri.


# 6

Smith, A. William. 15th Century Dance and Music. Pendragon Press.

If you’ve come this far down the top 10 list then you may as well get this book. It’s in 2 volumes, you’ll need both volumes. It is the translation and tabulation of every existing 15th Century Italian dance manuscript, so it’s one hell of a book.


# 7

Various issues of Historical Dance (the journal of the Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society). There are a number of articles in each issue that are of importance. Probably your best bet is to try to obtain a table of contents of the journals past and order the ones that look useful to you. In particular the article on “Dancing in the Inns of Court” is a must if you’re going to do any work on Allemandes.


# 8

Pugliese, Patri J.; Joseph Casazza. Practise for Dauncinge; Some Almans and a Pavan, England 1570-1650, A Manual for Dance Instruction. Cambridge, MA: P.J. Pugliese & J. Casazza, 1980. Again, you have to have this if you’re going to do any work on Allemandes.

Unfortunately this is out of print so you might like to use Peter and Janelle Durham’s Dances from the Inns of Court instead, available with a companion CD direct from the Author. I have copies of the book and CD for distribution, contact me about getting one.


# 9

Kendall, Gustavia Yvonne. "Le gratie d'amore" 1602 by Cesare Negri: translation and commentary. dissertation, Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, 1985.

This is another book for the diehards. Get it and experiment with it if you’re interested in serious dance reconstruction.


# 10

Del’s Dance Book!


Of course this is my personal top 10 list, and it may not be the same as the top 10 list of anyone else you speak to -- “your mileage may vary”. I think that if you’re going to start some dance research, however, then the above books are amongst the ones you’ll need to have in your library to start with.