“Levers a Dansh” [Get Up and Dance]: Monastic Dance in Sixteenth-Century England as Revealed by The Gresley Dance Manuscript
Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
My thesis investigates dance in early modern Europe, with specific focus on a document retrospectively entitled the Gresley Dance Manuscript. This handwritten twenty-six page document was probably created between 1480-1520, antedating previously discovered written records of English dance. Little is known about the Gresley Dance Manuscript and the text has gone largely unexamined by historians. My study of the manuscript begins by considering the dances themselves through reconstruction of the dance choreographies recorded in the manuscript. Reconstruction of the movements of dance within space contributes to the understanding of early modern English dance choreographies and is essential to the analysis of the dances themselves. I argue that the dances recorded in the Gresley Dance Manuscript are an early example of English dance choreographies which share similarities with European dance forms; similarities which are not identifiable in later English dance choreographies. The Gresley dances share with European dance forms the choreographic elements associated with courtship in continental dance styles. Study of the Gresley Dance Manuscript may also further the subfield of research concerning the relationship of the Catholic Church with dance; I argue that the Gresley dances may have been recorded in the Gresley Priory, suggesting the presence of complex dance forms which feature choreographic markers of courtship in a monastic setting. Due to its rarity as a manuscript recording early English dance, the Gresley Dance Manuscript should receive further scholarly attention and should be considered a valuable primary source for both dance scholars concerned with European and English dance practices and scholars of religious history concerned with monastic performance and dance.
Zmick, Heidi, "“Levers a Dansh” [Get Up and Dance]: Monastic Dance in Sixteenth-Century England as Revealed by The Gresley Dance Manuscript" (2023). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 2017.
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