Christmas is the season of dining and dancing. Glen Eyre Castle in the valley by Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is just the place to go for a madrigal feast. For the past 29 years they have been hosting their Madrigal Dinner full of seasonal song and dance.
I had the privilege of attending this year’s madrigal feast. In between tables choral members presented renaissance dances. I spent the past three years writing about historically accurate princess dances (see here) and was enamored by their presentation.
3 Renaissance Dances
Three types of renaissance dances were presented. The dances represented were a Pavan, a Galliard, and Bransle (pronounced Brawl) Recorders in 4-part harmony accompanied the dancers as they presented each dance.
Dancers processed into the great hall with a type of Pavan (see here). The Pavan was a court dance used to open ceremonies and balls. Dancers twirled and processed gracefully between the banquet tables.
Bransle steps were peppered throughout the court dances. Brawls were country and Yule-tide dances. Ding dong merrily on high is a classic Christmas carol song that was the Branle de Original (see here) in the middle ages. The Madrigal dancers invited guests to get up and join them in a little bransle.
The highlight was the Chandelier (Candle) Galliard. A lady of good standing took the center of a circle of four couples. She was charged with holding the lit candles as dancers circled around her. Mid-way through the song she passed the candles to the circling lords. They then shared their candles with their accompanying ladies and kicked up their heals with a galliard (see here).
When the dancing ended, it was time to present the Boar. This was no ordinary pig. Singers brought the boar in with it’s own special song and dance. Gentlemen sang “The boar’s head as I understand is the bravest dish in all the land.” Then the lord blessed the boars head and bid them feed his guests.
Taking a step back in time to experience a renaissance Christmas feast was a delight. Add a few carol dances to your Christmas celebrations! Try Greensleves (here & here) or Bransle de original (here & here) to add the magic of a madrigal Christmas to your celebrations.
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