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A merry medieval fusion with sticks


This dance leapt out of the irresistible and instantly energising music - Saltarello - to be found on David Munrow's Early Music Consort album Instruments of the Middle Ages. Described as 'Anonymous, 14th Century, Italian ' it is performed on oriental shawm, medieval trumpet, tabor, Egyptian tambourine and nakers - two small drums (from the Arabic naqqara).

The saltarello (from saltare: to jump) dates back to at least the 14th Century and has been compared to the Tarantella, the Neapolitan dance that in legend is the only cure for the bite of the tarantula spider. Jo came across a reference that suggested "saltarello" might be named after the springtime antics of the grasshopper, and not just because the dance features little jumps: sauterelle is French for grasshopper

Musically speaking, although most saltarellos are in 9.8 time, this one is in 4.4 with three episodes of extension - two en route and one at the end - which lend themselves to wild spinning. The first two are fast pivot spins. The last nine beats of 'two-footed' spins starting low, spiralling up and ending high and abruptly. The 4.4 bar episodes in between lend themselves ideally to an infinite variety of stick dance moves, as the mood takes the dancer.

Essentially unrelentingly energetic, this dance became known as the Tigger stick dance. Just less than two minutes is quite long enough...



Stick dancer
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"Good wits jump; a word to the wise is enough"

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

medieval instruments