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Arbeau says variously that the pavane was usually danced before a basse dance, and that after the pavane one customarily dances the galliard. It is a slow dance suitable for processions, and Arbeau states that it was used when a noble lady "is taken to Holy Church to be married, or when they lead a procession of the chaplains, masters and brethren of some noble confraternity."

The pavane is danced by a lord and lady holding hands. And is considered particularly suitable for genteel ladies as it is "charming and dignified", that is slow, a necessity for modesty and elegance when one is wearing a large dress. High nobles ladies may dance a pavane with a long train which may be held up by servants, especially as a procession. It is also suitable for lord scholars and clerics to dance in their long gowns, and young cavaliers may dance wearing their cloak and sword.

The pavane is played to announce the beginning of a grand ball, played until the "dancers have circled the hall 2 or 3 times, unless they prefer to dance it by advancing and retreating ." Pavanes also announce the entrance of gods/godesses or kings/emperors in a masquerade.

The movements of a basic pavane are two singles followed by a double forward starting with the left foot (i. e. left single, right single, left double). This is followed by two singles and a double, starting with the right foot, and as an alternative to doing these latter two singles and double forward one may do them backward so that throughout the dance one advances and then retreats.

If you wish to make a circuit of the room, and become trapped in a narrow space, a conversion is a more elegant solution than forcing a lady to walk backwards.

Arbeau transcribes the music and words to the pavane to which the SCA commonly dances the known world pavane, and states that it "contains two advancing and two retreating movements" (per verse/32 bars ie SLf SRf DLf, SRb SLb DRb, SLf SRf DLf, SRb SLb DRb), "which may be repeated as many times as the musicians or dancers please". This is much simpler than the way the pavane is normally danced in the SCA, indeed Arbeau remarks on how solem and slow the dance is, and boring for a young lady and man to dance together.

Arbeau mentions the tambour (drum) and flute as a pair of general-purpose instruments that can be played by a lone musician for dancing, but then says that many kinds of instruments may be used for the pavane (e. g. violin, other flutes, spinets), or they may be sung, however a tambour is recommended as it helps the dancers greatly.

Spanish Pavane

A more complex pavane from Arbeau. The pavane steps are rearranged in a variety of gestures, similar to the dance known as the canary. The double is broken up into two sets of embellishments.


One does the sequence of steps once advancing, then retreats with the same steps:

The fleurets of the central passage are replaced by other gestures while advancing or retreating in later repetitions of the pavane

  • Fleuret - 2 small kicks and a large kick
  • Fleuret - 2 small kicks and a large kick
  • Fleuret - 2 small kicks and a large kick
  • Fleuret - 2 small kicks and a large kick
  • Fleuret - 2 small kicks and a large kick
  • Fleuret - 2 small kicks and a large kick
  • Fleuret - 2 small kicks and a large kick

Every passage of the spanish pavane ends with:


Passe meze in French: A pavane played more quickly with a lighter beat, assuming the moderate tempo of a basse dance. It was done with variations in the steps of the double, and these variations could begin in the second of the two singles.