The letters of Andrea Calmo, a 16th-century Venetian actor and playwright who wrote of having been taught the bassadanza by wolves, highlight how dance was regarded by a member of the middle classes in Venice.
As well as having a general appreciation of dance, which he saw as an enjoyable and moral activity, Calmo was knowledgeable about dance specifics and accurate in his use of dance terminology; in fact, his knowledge of dance practices was extensive enough to enable him to use specific dance references as a tool in creating the humor in his letters.
In a letter wooing a fine dancer, Calmo’s praises include the following:
“Now you can perform well the salti a torno, performing capriole, dancing on only one foot for half and hour, and moving the other foot so quickly it is as if your feet were tickling.”
“Alas, that to go behind, in front, those riprese, those clever steps and turns on joined feet, and all with mesura, with design and grace, in addition to the beautiful, grand, well-rounded and well-proportioned bosom.”
This according to “Learning the bassadanza from a wolf: Andrea Calmo and dance” by Jennifer Nevile (Dance research: The journal of the Society for Dance Research XXX/1  pp. 80–97). Above, Ball in Venice in Honor of Foreign Visitors, c.1580 (Italian School). Below, bassadanza with attitude!
Related article: Basse danse with attitude I
4 Responses to Basse danse with attitude II
Despite the video’s title, what they’re dancing is a 15th century (1400s) ballo by the name “Anello”.
Who is the artist of the picture on the top? Thank you!!
We have been unable to discover the painter’s name; all we have found is “Italian school, ca.1580”.
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