AD - A Caroso-Style Ball

dssweet at dssweet at
Fri Sep 17 06:34:01 PDT 1999

Pug said:
>Good Morning,
>  Call me stupid, but what is a Caroso-Style Ball?

No, I won't. It's not a stupid question & probably several others on this
list haven't endured my gushing about one. I'm rather enamored by the whole
idea. It's the authentisist coming out in me.

Below find the text that is on the handouts for the event. Most of it was
taken straight from Countess Mara's description of her first Caroso-style
ball (which can be found on the SCA Dance web page). I made a few changes
for the Mooneschadowe specific ball.

If anyone has further questions, I'll be glad to attempt to answer them.


This session is an attempt to recreate the sort of ball implied by the
descriptions in the etiquette sections of Caroso's Nobilta' di Dame, which
is a dance manual published in Italy in 1600. A few adaptations have been
made but the object is to provide as real an experience as possible of
attending an aristocratic dance party in the late 16th century.

It  seems  they  did not expect to have everyone up on the floor dancing at
once.  A  few  dance types (pavanes, allemands, bransles, and some forms of
English  Country)  were  for everyone who wanted to join in. All the others
were  for  one  couple or one set at a time, and people took turns choosing
dances.  Most  people spent most of the ball sitting around the edge of the
dance  floor  (ladies  on  one  side,  gentlemen  on  the other), forming a
knowledgeable  (and  sometimes  critical)  audience.  A  good analogy is to
consider this a Bardic Circle for dancers.

                             HOW   IT   WORKS

You  will  notice  that  the  chairs/benches are arranged in two concentric
lines  around  the  dance floor, lords on one side, ladies on the other. By
sitting  in  the  inner  seats, you declare your interest in being asked to
dance.  If you want to watch only, please sit in the outer seats. Feel free
to  move  back  and forth between locations. (This is an adaptation. Caroso
says that ladies who want to watch, only, should keep their mantles on, and
implies  that  of  course all gentlemen are always willing to dance, though
the eager ones crowd forward to the edge of the dance floor.)

If you're interested in dancing, please study the playlist on the back page
- this is what our musicians are prepared to play. Have a couple of choices
in  mind for when it's your turn to choose. You can choose something that's
been  done  already if you want to. Since this is our first attempt at this
style  of  ball, if you can't remember the name of a dance, please describe
it to me and I will attempt to identify it for you.

When  it  is  your  turn, first approach and invite a partner to dance with
you. Confirm that your chosen partner can perform the dance you wish to do,
then tell the maestra del ballo (that's me, Estrill) what piece you want. I
will  tell  the musicians, while you, if it is a set dance, will invite the
required  number of people (of the same sex as you) to dance with you (they
are  responsible  for  inviting their own partners). Your chosen partner is
the one who will get the next turn. (That's how they did it, so yes, ladies
in  period  did ask gentlemen to dance.) I will then announce the dance. If
you  choose  one of the 'as many as will' dances, you need only invite your
own  partner, as I will ask the company at large to join in. If some people
have repeatedly been chosen as partners before everyone has had a chance at
choosing a dance, I will be asking them to please defer the dance choice to
someone who has not yet chosen.

Once  someone  has  danced,  he  or  she  ought not to be asked again until
everyone of that gender has danced.

Please  notice  -  there is NO TEACHING! And NO WALK-THRUS! As a concession
for  the  first  time,  I  will  provide  a swift talk-thru, if the dancers
believe  they  need it. Otherwise, please be prepared to choose a different

Please  try  to  get into the spirit of participating in a dance by being a
spectator - it's how you'll be spending most of the session!

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