Branle Simple

(Simple Branle, Single Branle)

(16th century)


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

The Formation

An open or closed circle of dancers (Arbeau mentions both) with hands joined.

Everyone dances the same steps together, although individual dancers can decide to vary the steps within the basic pattern if they choose, as described below.

The Dance

A double to the left followed by a single to the right, as follows: step side left (1), close right toward left with weight (2), step side left (3), close right to left without weight (4), then step side right (5), and close left to right without weight (6). (Note that count two closes "toward" the leading foot rather than "to" it. While the difference isn't large enough to matter to most recreational dancers, Arbeau does define these two steps differently.)

The fact that there are two steps to the left and only one to the right makes the dance progressive, either in a clockwise circle, or following the lead of the leading dancer (at the left-most end of the chain).

Optional Variation: If a dancer wishes, they can replace the final two steps (step, close without weight) of the right-footed single (counts 5, 6) with three small leaps onto the right foot, left foot, and right foot, raising the free foot slightly in front on each leap (5-and-6). Be sure to travel the same amount as you would in a usual 5, 6 to keep up with the circle, and do the variation surreptitiously to avoid interfering with your fellow dancers' ability to dance their chosen footwork.

The Music

Here is a nice tune for dancing the Branle Simple:


© 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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