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date: 01 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Romeo’s well-known excuse that he cannot dance because he has soles of lead is demonstrative of the autonomous volitional quality Shakespeare ascribes to body parts, his utilization of humoral somatic psychology, and the horizontally divided body according to early modern dance practice and theory. This chapter considers the autonomy of and disagreement between the body parts and the unruliness of the humors within Shakespeare’s dramas, particularly Romeo and Juliet. An understanding of the body as a house of conflicting parts can be applied to the feet of the dancing body in early modern times, as is evinced not only by literary texts, but dance manuals as well. The visuality dominating the dance floor provided opportunity for social advancement as well as ridicule, as contemporary sources document. Dance practice is compared with early modern swordplay in their shared approaches to the training and social significance of bodily proportion and rhythm.

Keywords: body culture, early modern dance, early modern fencing, early modern medicine, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare

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