Kraków ballet company reconstructs ‘extremely difficult’ 17th century dance to commemorate composer’s death

The Cracovia Danza Court Ballet, a professional dance ensemble that revives old court dances, spent two months virtually reconstructing the dances to German composer Michael Praetorius’ “Terpsichore”. Cracovia Danza Court Ballet

Dancers from Kraków are reconstructing 17th century dances to the music of German composer Michael Praetorius as part of an international project to commemorate the 400th anniversary of his death.

Born in 1571, his works include the “Terpsichore”, a compendium of over 300 instrumental dances published in 1612, based on dances from France and other countries from the time.

The dancers used historical documents from the 17th century that could shed light on how people danced then, including L’Instruction pour dancer (1610), which was found recently in Darmstadt, Germany.Cracovia Danza Court Ballet

Now the Cracovia Danza Court Ballet, a professional dance ensemble that revives old court dances, is reconstructing the dances to Praetorius’ “Terpsichore”.

Musicians, dancers and choreographers worked together on the project for two months – virtually, because of the pandemic. Polish dancer and choreographer Romana Agnel, who directs the Cracovia Danza Court Ballet, joined forces with French choreographers Marie-Claire Bär Le Corre and Pierre-François Dollé to reconstruct the dances.

Born in 1571, his works include the “Terpsichore”, a compendium of over 300 instrumental dances published in 1612, based on dances from France and other countries from the time.Public domain

Since there are obviously no video recordings from the time, they turned to historical documents from the 17th century that could shed light on how people danced then, including L’Instruction pour dancer (1610), which was found recently in Darmstadt, Germany, as well as Santucci Perugino’s Mastro da Ballo Ercole  (1614) and François de Lauze’s Apologie de la danse (1623).

Agnel said: “The reconstructions were extremely difficult. In the treatises, information about the steps and figures of individual dances is presented descriptively. So you have to read this information well at the beginning and imagine it in space.

“To do this, you need to have great knowledge of dances. You have to know what a given dance form looked like before and what it looked like later,” she added.

Choreographer Romana Agnel, who directs the Cracovia Danza Court Ballet, said: “The reconstructions were extremely difficult. In the treatises, information about the steps and figures of individual dances is presented descriptively. So you have to read this information well at the beginning and imagine it in space.”Jacek Bednarczyk/PAP

The dances were reconstructed as part of the CapellaCALLS_Poland project, which is part of the a wider project by Capella de la Torre entitled CapellaCALLS_Europe.

They will be presented in a video featuring music, dance and interviews with the people involved.

It will premiere online on 28 March, and can be viewed here.