The Balletto suites in the choreographic manuals of Fabritio Caroso and Cesare Negri: a study of danced suites in Italy during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries

2016-12-02T05:50:02Z (GMT) by Monahin, Nona
This study focuses on the danced suites described in the manuals of two prominent sixteenth-century Italian dancing masters, Fabritio Caroso and Cesare Negri. Caroso produced two manuals: Il Ballarino (Venice, 1581) and La Nobiltà di Dame (Venice, 1600, 1605). Negri wrote one, Le Gratie d’Amore (Milan, 1602; reissued as Nuove Inventioni di balli in 1604). Together, these three dance manuals contain choreographic instructions and music for a total of one hundred and seventy-two compositions, some of which are discrete dances, while others are composite works consisting of two or more different dance types presented in the manner of a suite. It is the suites—the majority of which are subtitled “balletto,” hence the moniker “balletto suites”—that are the focus of this dissertation. The present study has the following goals: the first is to reconstruct the choreographies of the suites. This task, in addition to serving as a contribution to the field of performance practice of historical dance and dance music, is a prerequisite for the subsequent goals. The second is to determine the musical and choreographic characteristics of the individual movements (mostly dance types) that make up such suites. It is hoped that an understanding of the steps, step combinations, and spatial arrangements—that is, the choreographic syntax—of Caroso’s and Negri’s dances will lead to a better understanding of some of the most popular dance types of the period, as well as assist choreographers and theatre directors today in choreographing dances in period style. The third goal (which draws on the results of the first two) is to explore the possible tempo relationships between the movements, since the choice of tempo is one of the most important considerations when performing music that accompanies dancing. While these three goals all serve a practical purpose, namely the performance of the choreographies and music of the dance suites, throughout this study I have tried as far as possible to bring in evidence from contemporaneous music theorists and practitioners, so that a fourth goal was to situate the information provided by the dancing masters regarding dance-music relationships in a broader context.