These bookes, as I heare, are all cawled in': Dance and Choreographic Records from the Stuart Masques


  • Jennifer Nevile University of South Wales



Contemporary interest in the Stuart masques was intense, with texts of the masques circulating both within and outside the ambit of the court, as readers were eager to hear about the latest political events which were alluded to in the masques. At a masque performance the vast majority of the time was occupied with dancing, yet the choreographic information which has survived from all these performances is slight. The question as to why the dances were seemingly ignored in the printed and manuscript masque texts that we know today, given the high contemporary interest in the masque dance performances is the focus of this essay. Arguments that militate against the inclusion of choreographic description in the masque texts are explored, as well as the equally strong arguments that push for such an inclusion, all set in the wider context of the activities of dance masters in France and Italy. While no definitive answers can be given as yet, this essays argues that our modern assumption of the absence of contemporary choreographic records should be reconsidered, and that there may have been more choreographic information recorded than we have realized.