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the Pavanne according to Arbeau

This is usually danced before a basse dance. 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 pavanne 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 pavanne 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 pavanne 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 ." Pavannes also announce the entrance of gods/godesses or kings/emporers in a masquerade.

The movements of a basic pavanne are two singles followed by a double forward starting with the left foot. This is followed by two singles and a double backwards, starting with the right foot.

The backwards movement is not necesary - one may move forwards only if you wish, indeed this may be adviseable in a proceessional situation.

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 pavanne to which the SCA commonly dances the known world pavanne, and states that it "contains two advancing and two retreating movements" (per verse/32 bars ie SLf SRf DLf, SRf SLf DRf, SLb SRb DLb, SRb SLb DRb), "which may be repeated as many times as the musicians or dancers please". Indeed the advancing and retreating bars can be easily heard int he music - the first half sweeps upwards to high notes, while the second half swweps down to low notes. This is much simpler than the way the pavanne 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.

The tambour (drum) and flute appear to be traditional instrumentation for a pavanne, but many varieties of instruments may be used (eg vioinn, other flutes, spinets), or they may be sung, however a tambour is reccomended as it helps the dancers greatly.

spanish pavanne

A more complex pavanne. The pavanne 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.


A pavanne played more quickly with a lighter beat, assuming hte moderate tempo of a basse dance.