Although classified as a branle in Arbeau's Orchésographie (1589), and very often reconstructed as a traditional circular branle, the Branle des Chevaulx appears to be more of choreographed couple dance.
Couples holding both hands with each other (Arbeau is specific on this point in several places). The relation of the couples to each other is unspecified, but to play well with other branles that might precede or follow it, it works well to have the couples in a circle, Leads facing CCW and Follows facing CW.
Facing each other and dancing the same footwork, the partners balance side to side in relation to each other, i.e., when the Lead goes toward the center of the circle, the Follow goes toward the outside wall.
The footwork is a combination of doubles (side, close trailing foot toward leading foot with weight, side, close trailing foot to leading foot without weight), singles (side, close without weight), and taps (tap right foot on the ground).
The dance has two parts. The first part is danced holding two hands with partner, and the second part is danced without hands.
Part A (with hands)
Double right (to get right foot free for the next part, take weight on the final close)
Part B (without hands, Leads dance first, then Follows dance the same thing)
Leads tap right foot twice, then do a single to right
Leads dance a double to the left, turning 360°ree; to the left (taking weight on right foot at the end)
Follows tap right foot twice, then do a single to right
Follows dance a double to the left, turning 360°ree; to the left (taking weight on right foot at the end)
Then retake hands to start from the beginning.
Here is a nice tune for dancing the Branle des Chevaulx:
© 2020 Nick Enge
For more, see our two books on dancing:
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge,
and Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge.
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