Branle de la Montarde

(Montarde Branle)

(16th century)


Introduction

The Branle de la Montarde is an easy circle dance described in Arbeau's Orchésographie (1589).


The Formation

An open circle of dancers with hands joined.


The Dance

This dance is a combination of continuous left doubles (side left, close right foot toward left foot with weight, side left, close right foot to left foot with weight), and kicks (spring onto one foot, kicking the other in front). Arbeau notes that the dance is danced in Hault Barrois style, leaping all the steps.

The dance starts with everyone dancing to the left for eight doubles (technically four doubles, repeated), which works out to 32 steps total.

Then the leader of the line does a turn alone, using three kicks and a leap to closed feet as the footwork. Following that, the second person in line does a turn alone, followed by the third person, the fourth person, etc., until everyone has made a turn (in a live music context, the musicians vamp the turn music until everyone has turned). The solo dancer lets go of hands to complete the turn, then retakes hands with the person in front of them again after the turn.

Once all in the line have made their turn, the leader of the line makes a hay, passing in front of the Follows and behind the Leads, until he reaches the end of the line, while everyone else takes hands and dances the doubles section from the beginning, letting go of hands as necessary to let the dancer doing the hay pass through. (Many groups who have reconstructed this dance have the other dancers stand still without holding hands while the lead dancer does the hay, but Arbeau strongly implies that the other dancers recommence dancing the doubles while the lead dancer is doing the hay, and everyone except the two dancers immediately being passed between are holding hands, which makes things a bit more interesting.)

Once the doubles section is over, the second dancer does as the first dancer did. The dance is complete once everyone has returned to their original position.


The Music

Here is a nice tune for dancing the Branle de la Montarde, but note that it only repeats the vamp section four times, so either (a) you can dance it in lines of four, or (b) you can have only the first four dancers of a longer line do the turn:


Sources


© 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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