Dance and Music in Lambranzi's Theatralische Tantz-Schul

Giorgio Lambranzi's 1716 publication is a favourite source for today's choreographers and reconstructors seeking some guidance for the recreation of non-noble style Baroque dances.  Its 100 plates illustrate a wide variety of personages, ranging from noble dancers to rustic tradesmen -- fishermen and farmers, for example -- to commedia dell'arte characters such as Harlequin and Scaramouch. Of particular interest are the pantomime scenes, in which the performers are instructed to hold a pose, moving to a second pose at a certain point in the music. With a few exceptions, no notated choreographies exist for such personages, yet their choreographic presence in 18th-century theatrical works is well documented. Unfortunately, Lambranzi provides no dance notation, although he does mention a number of baroque dance steps in his brief descriptions appended to each plate.  He also provides music (melody line only) for each plate.  While some of these tunes have been identified, many are apparently unique to the treatise and have not been studied in any detail.  In this paper I will provide a systematic study of Lambranzi's tunes, relating their musical characteristics to the characters portrayed in the illustrations and to the step vocabulary, and I will suggest ways in which Lambranzi's treatise can inform theatrical staging in the early 18th century.

Carol G. Marsh
Symposium Title: 
Gods, Men and Monsters – 2001
Author affiliation: 
School of Music, University of North Carolina, USA