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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
Dancing in Shakespeare a good idea
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0789  Wednesday, 31 March 2004

From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Mar 2004 16:54:30 +0100
Subject: 15.0781 Dancing in Shakespeare a good idea
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0781 Dancing in Shakespeare a good idea

 >I'm sorry to run the risk of seeming garrulous by sending two messages
 >in one day, but it should be remembered that, judging by the few
 >surviving examples, a jig was not simply a dance but a danced, generally
 >satirical, playlet. The best simple discussion of the form is the entry
 >in the Campbell/Quinn encyclopaedia by C. J. Sisson, who has a chapter
 >on it, with an example that he discovered, in his valuable and neglected
 >book 'Lost Plays of Shakespeare's Age' (Cambridge, 1936). The dances
 >performed with such verve and disarming enjoyment by the actors of the
 >Globe completely misrepresent the form.

Everything that I have read about jigs in historical studies of
Renaissance Theatre practices (which, admittedly, isn't much) supports
Wells's argument here, but I wonder whether the Globe might refer to an
alternative precedent in "Midsummer Night's Dream", where Bottom offers
Theseus a choice between an "Epilogue" and a "Bergomask dance between
two of our company" to conclude the performance.  I would be interested
to hear whether Stanley Wells considers this a dramatic-exercise on
Shakespeare's part (something that Bottom's crew offer as an excuse for
dancing in Shakespeare's play-within-a-play, but which a real company
would not have done), or whether after-show events might sometimes have
consisted of a simple "Bergomask dance" rather than a scripted "jig" in
the form of a playlet.

I am assuming from Stanley Wells's arguments here, and from the
descriptions that I have seen of "jigs" elsewhere - those based on
Renaissance sources - that a "Bergomask dance" on its own could not be
considered a "jig".

Of course a "Bergomask dance between two of our company" is still not
the communal hoofing of the entire cast that concludes Globe
productions, but it is probably closer than the scripted jigs to which
Stanley Wells refers (and which the Globe seems to confuse its dances
with in their publicity materials).

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"       "British Shakespeare Association"
http://shakespearean.org.uk           http://britishshakespeare.ws

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