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date: 01 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Dancing was ubiquitous in early modern England and Europe, and the literature of this period inevitably reflects this practice. This introduction to Part I of The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Dance—“Shakespeare and Dance”—traces the development of dance traditions during the period of Shakespeare’s life. Despite the scarcity of choreographic source material from dancers and teachers working in England, information relating to dance can be gathered from diaries, letters, and the records of public events—not to mention literature itself. As the chapters in Part I of the Handbook make clear, research into the dance of the early modern period can educate one on the features of national dance styles, the effect that social class had on dancing practices, and the expressive potential of movement. Without an intimate knowledge of the choreographic practices of the era, as demonstrated by the contributors to this Handbook, much of the layered meaning in Shakespeare’s writings would be lost.

Keywords: Shakespeare, dance, dance history, early modern drama, early dance, masque, Andrea Calmo

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