complemented the different forms of Tudor Dance.
Dancing was an extremely popular pastime during the
Tudor era for both the rich and poor people. Dancing in the Tudor era was
considered "a wholesome recreation of the mind and also an
exercise of the body". The emergence of different styles of
music and new musical instruments during the Tudor period, combined with various
experiments combining different instruments, led to new
dances being created. Tudor dance varied according to
the social class. The court dances enjoyed by royalty,
nobility and the rich were often imported from
Italy, Spain or France. These Tudor dance forms varied
considerably from the energetic Galliard to the refined Pavane. The
poor lower classes enjoyed the more
traditional country dances such as the Jig, Morris Dancing, the Brand or the Brawle.
These Tudor dances for poor people were closely associated
with the customs and festivals celebrated in Tudor
Tudor Dance - Dances of
the Rich Upper Class
differed between the rich and the poor, the Upper and Lower Classes. The
rich Upper Classes enjoyed
new types of music at court. They had a taste for new music and new
dances. Many courtiers travelled abroad and returned to the Tudor
court with dances from Italy, Spain and France. These foreign influences
were found in the development of new Tudor court dances and music.
These new dances had to be learnt and Dancing Masters were suitably
employed. These Tudor dances were highly sophisticated and stately
with intricate steps although the old favorite English
country dances were still popular. Many of the Court dances were
performed as couples and the suggestive Tudor court dance called
the Volt was the only dance which allowed the dancers to embrace
The most important Tudor
dances were the Pavan, Galliards and Almain.
Tudor Dance - Dances for
the Poor Lower Class
The Tudor poor Lower
Classes were not in the position to hear the new royal court music or learn
the intricate steps of the Tudor Court dances. Their only contact with these
innovations, and as with the latest fashions, would have been through
the theatres which became popular during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
The poor Tudors dancing revolved around country dancing. The English
Tudor country dance was danced by couples in round, square, or
rectangular sets in much simpler and repetitive forms than those of the
royal court dance. Dancing for the poor would have been passed down through the generations
and the different types of country dances were popular with everyone.
The dances of the poor would have been performed at fairs and
festivals, many of which were dictated by the changing seasons and the
calendar of Church events. Many of the dances of the Tudor Lower
classes were steeped in old customs and rituals, such as dancing around
the Maypole. The Christmas festival included the carole which was the
most popular dance-song which could be danced in a circle, or in a
chain, or as a processional. Our modern Christmas Carols are derived
from this old English practice.
Tudor Festivals when
Dances were performed
The major events in the
Tudor's lives, both the Upper and Classes, were dominated by
Christian festivals. In the Dark Ages old pagan rituals were combined
with the new Christian festivals in order to ensure their acceptance by
the common people. The following list of Tudor festivals reflect
some pagan rituals and beliefs, some of which, like the Maypole dance
was Pagan in origin.
- January - Twelfth Night
festival and feasts featuring Tudor dance
- February - St
Valentine's Day the Tudor festival celebrating love with
singing, dancing and pairing games
- April - All Fool's Day.
The Jesters, or Lords of Misrule of the Tudor court took
charge for the day and their activities included different forms of
dancing and odd suggestions for couples
- May Day - The
Tudor traditional festival where villagers danced around the
- June - Midsummer Eve and
the summer Solstice of June 23rd was celebrated with bonfires and
- July - Swithin's Day
falls on 15th July celebrated with music and dancing
- August - Lammas Day was
on August 2nd celebrating the first wheat harvest of the year.
Candle lit processions, dance and apple-bobbing was featured
- September - 29th
September was when Michaelmas celebrations included dancing
- October - October 25th
celebrating St Crispin's Day with Revels, dance and bonfires
- November - The Day of
the Dead, All Souls Day or All Hallow's Day ( Halloween ) was
celebrated with revels, dance and bonfires
- December - The feasts
and Christmas celebrations including Tudor dancing
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