16thC Italian Dances


Alta Mendozza: M. Stefano (Negri, 1602). Galliards galore. I’m particularly fond of the second part, a great little variation in itself. Part 3 is an aerobic workout. Timing the jumps together is key.

Alta Somaglia: M. Stefano (Negri, 1602). Lighthearted with lovely music. Swirly floor patterns that keep the dancers in continuous motion. An excellent galliard. This is a wonderful balletto, highly recommended.

Ballo del Fiore: Caroso, 1581. Considered one of the easiest dances in the repertoire, yet is charming and iconic. It should be danced at every ball.

Barriera: Caroso, 1600. The Combat at the Barriers. A dance with great character. Moderate tempo, fun music. No jumps but interesting step sequences. Anna teaches Santucci’s ending which is tricky. It finishes the dance with some spice, as opposed to a series of ordinarii. One of my favorites.

Bassa Pompilia: Caroso, 1581. The dance moves at a lovely slow pace. Particularly beautiful music. I like this one quite a bit. It’s a good dance for any level.

Bassa Toscana: M. Battistino (Caroso), 1581. This one appeals for the title alone: Tuscan Valley. A 2 ½ minute dance with typical steps. Good rhythm, moves along nicely, has hand-clapping. Can be picked up in a couple sessions.

Bizzarria d’Amore: Negri, 1602. An adorable dance for four. Very fun to watch. Pros: not too hard to learn or dance, even if you don’t have all four on hand. Con: earworm.

Le Bellezze d’Olimpia: Caroso, 1581. Slow and lyrical with pretty music. The steps are basic. Its charm lies is in the interaction between the two partners. A flirty dance.

Il Bigarà: Negri, 1602. Hops, springs and silly bouncing. This dance is about as cute as it gets. Hop, hop. Kick, kick, kick, kick.

Celeste Giglio: Caroso, 1600. Caroso’s masterpiece and one of the most difficult dances in the repertoire. It’s got it all: galliard, saltarello, canary. Absolutely worth the brain power to learn. The galliard variation is brilliant – I haven’t found any other that I like quite as much. Caroso is genius.

Contentezza d’Amore: Caroso, 1600. This dance is “content” to be right in the middle. It’s easier than some, harder than others. Six parts with a good variety of steps and floor patterns.

Il Conto dell’Orco: Caroso, 1581. The Tale of the Whale. A simpler dance with a chorus. The couple dances around each other in a wheel (or in this case, a whirlpool).

Dolce Amoroso Foco: Caroso, 1581. Of the shorter balletti, it’s a favorite. The man has a challenging solo. The lady’s part is suitable for beginners. Lovely floor patterns, pretty music. A dance for 6. We dance it as just one couple.

Gagliarda di Spagna: Caroso, 1581. Fascinating structure. Has a chorus and repeating steps but this dance is not predictable. It starts easy. Then ramps up into a couple of fantastic solos for the man. I dance the man’s side and my honey does not object.

Leggiadra Marina: Negri, 1602. Dancey with lovely music. Of the more complex balletti, this one is definitely a top pick. Beautiful floor patterns, two galliards, some hand-clapping. 5 out of 5.

Passo e Mezzo: Caroso, 1581. Famously hard to learn. Earns bragging rights. Man and lady do completely different parts. The man’s footwork is most challenging. I’ve only learned the lady’s side with the easier steps. It’s difficult to keep all the solos straight. Gorgeous music.

So Ben Mi Chi Ha Buon Tempo: Negri, 1602. This is hands down one of my favorites. Wonderful choral music. Has a fabulous galliard variation. The choreography is just super fun to dance. A must do.

Spagnoletta Nuova al Modo di Madriglia: Caroso, 1600. Technically difficult with great music. There are 26 fioretti in total (and lots of groppo). Takes many sessions to learn but the 1600-symmetry helps. The dance has a constrained style that’s grown on me.

Il Torneo Amoroso: Negri, 1602. The battle theme is neat – the dancers are clearly sizing up the competition. Danced at a moderate tempo. Memorable tournament sequence, of patty cakes.

Villanella: Caroso, 1581. Nice intro to the genre. A sweet dance with a variety of floor patterns. Popular. Good to have in your repertoire.


Allegrezza d’Amore: Oratio Martire (Caroso, 1581). Very nifty cascarda. Full of interesting steps and rhythms. The verses and choruses are all unique so it takes some time to learn. A dance for 3, but with minor modifications we dance it as a couple.

Alta Regina: Caroso, 1581. Six verses but they’re short and two are solos. Note that there is no taking of hands. This seems to be a very popular cascarda.

Alta Regina: Caroso, 1600. A cascarda with advanced footwork. It’s demanding but has a lot of repeats, which helps with the memorization. After learning the 1581 version it was interesting to compare the two.

La Castellana: Caroso, 1581. Pretty. Typical cascarde step combinations and no solos. Partners do exactly the same choreography.

Chiara Stella: Caroso, 1581. A favorite of mine in the cascarde category. Lively music. Fun to dance. Takes a bit of skill but not too hard to learn.

Fulgente Stella: Caroso, 1581. Somewhat similar to Chiara Stella but longer and more challenging. Caroso gives options for 2 or 3 dancers.

Gloria d’Amore: Caroso, 1581. Short and sweet with a good number of steps. A memory challenge due to it’s not-exactly-repeating chorus. This is also what gives it charm. I like this one.

Gracca Amorosa: Caroso, 1581. Cute and fun. Hugely popular in the SCA. Despite the tempo, considered suitable for beginners.

Maraviglia d’Amore: Caroso, 1581. Nice to watch. There are other cascarde that I find easier to remember so we haven’t revisited this one.