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Rudolfinské tance

Rudolphian Dances

European Songs and Dances of the Late Renaissance
Dance: CHOREA HISTORICA, artistic leader Eva Kröschlová
Music: CHAIRÉ, artistic leader Josef Krček
Direction:  Eva Kröschlová

During the reign of Rudolph II. of Habsburg family (1575 - 1611) the dance used to have a high social status. Poets often wrote about dance in their works (Arena, Sir John Davies). Music compositions for dances were composed by famous composers (Byrd, Dowland, Caroubel, Praetorius, Haussman, Gastoldi etc.). Dance masters (Caroso, Negri, Arbeau, Lupi, Lutij) issued textbooks, which contained not only description of dances but also a discourse about dance aesthetics.

Some European court dances could today be called the standard ones. Among them was festive pavane, in which dancers “swelled like peacocks” (pavo – Lat. peacock), leaping galliarde (gagliardo – It. lusty, daring, joyful), running courante (courir – Fr. run) and others. Apart from these dances a Provençal volta (voltiger – Fr. fly) established itself.. The English Queen Elizabeth excelled in this dance, especially in a leap when lifted by Lord Leicester. While chain dance branles of medieval origin used to be danced in France (ebesides above mentioned dances), Italian used to love balli or balletti, small choreograph formations, which were composed by dance masters using specially arranged music for 2 – 12 noble dancers. During that time dances called masques evolved in England. In France Les Bouffons was noted down, the dance of fools, probably a descendant of old ritual sword dances. Also some Italian balli were danced in a disguise on theatrically arranged celebrations, but it mostly resembled dance performances on balls or private parties.

Now, let’s turn to the emperor Rudolph. During the time when he resided in Prague he did not like music nor dance. Nevertheless, he supported the famous ensemble Capella Rudolphina, and invited well-known composers (Phillip de Monte, Jakobus Regnart, Alessandro Orologio etc.) to Prague. At that time Valerius Otto also worked in Prague. He was an organist in the church “Panna Marie před Týnem” and left us many dance pieces. The young prince Rudolph learned to dance in his youth at the dance master Cesare Negri. It was in his 11 years of age at Christmas time when he and his brother sailed from Genova to Spain to receive a strict etiquette education at the court of Madrid Habsburgs. On their way they stopped in Milan. was Later on as the emperor he called up Negri’s follower Carlo Baccari. A proof that balli were danced in Prague is a textbook Nuove inventioni di balli from 1604 which has a mark “ex libris Francisci Godefridi Troili” of an emperor councillor kept in Prague National Library. In his first tract Le Gratie d’Amore (1602) (the above mentioned book was only the second extended edition of this tract), Negri rendered also corresponding musical writing in a single lute tablature or in one voice tune as a base for instrumental amplification. In accordance with the custom of his time he also used popular songs or vocal compositions of contemporary authors (Orazio Vecchi, G. G. Gastoldi etc.)

Majority of dances performed in our projects are reconstructions of authentic choreographies. In tourdion and courante original steps and general description of the dance by T. Arbeau are used, the final form of the dance is accommodated to the structure of used musical piece. In Bergerette only a concept of a pastoral dance was used as a guideline. The solution of pavane Battaille is a little bit different. The title “bataille” (Fr. battle) indicated many dance pieces originated from the chanson La Guerre by Cl. Jannequin, in which martial motives appeared. In one Italian ballo, clapping is described which probably signifies playful battle. This motive we allowed ourselves to expand in the similar piece by T. Susato. Cesare Negri composed the real dance play in his ballo La Caccia d’Amore (Chase of Love). A boy chases a girl in the lane of other dancers as in many European folk dances (Cat and Mouse).

We chose the time of the late Renaissance for our programme because at that time the ballroom dance was in its exuberance and variety at one of its tops. The dances were so popular that even Shakespeare and Lope de Vega used some dance similes in their work, and Sir John Davies made them the theme of his “cosmic” poem. We call them Rudolphian dances not because of the surly emperor but in honour of the Rudolphian Prague, which was one of the European centres of science and arts at that time. In spite of reclusive Rudolph his countries played, sang and danced like we dare. We hope you will like and enjoy our choice of their songs and dances.



Thoinot Arbeau

Branle de Pinagay (1589)

Thoinot Arbeau

Pavane et gaillarde (1588)

Claude Gervaise

Tourdion (1530)

Tielman Susato

La Battaille (1551) *

Gabriello Puliti

Dona Ingrata (1604)

Tobiáš Mouřenín z Litomyšle

„Rozmlouvání o ženské chytrosti“ (c. 1600)

Cesare Negri

Il bianco Fiore – ballo in 4 (1602/ 1604)

Fabritio Caroso

Bassa Pompilia – ballo in 2 (1581)

C. Negri a G.Gastoldi

Alta Mendozza - ballo in 2 (1602)

C. Negri a Orazio Vecchi

So ben mi ch´a bon tempo - balletto in 2 (1602)

Anonym - Laude italiana

Alta trinita beata (1580)

Tielman Susato

Bergerette (1551) *

Cesare Negri

La Caccia d´Amore - ballo in 6 (1602)




Kdo chce býti veselý

Th. Arbeau a J. d´Estrée

Les Bouffons (1588)


Tangue vivrai (c.1600)

Michael Praetorius

La Volta (1612)

Tielman Susato

Cum decore (1540)

Michael Praetorius

Courante (1612) *

Gio Giac Gastoldi

Amor vittorioso (1591) *

Choreography *  Eva Kröschlová

Rekonstruction of dances: Véronique Daniels, Barbara Sparti, Dorothée Wortelboer, Eva Kröschlová