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date: 05 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Fifteenth-century dance manuals reveal an important distinction between the work of historical reconstruction and that of theoretical reenactment. Basse danse and bassadanza manuals clarify that the difference between reenactment and reconstruction is a difference in temporal experience. When we use these documents simply to reconstruct—to piece together and attempt to replicate a past step pattern—we discern in the manuals and in their dances an anticipatory temporality that privileges looking toward the future. When, however, we approach these texts through the theoretical discourse of reenactment, we discover a different kind of time. It is recursive, multidirectional, and far more layered than the anticipatory model that the dance instructions appear on the surface to adopt. When this more complex temporal structure becomes visible, this chapter argues, we recognize how these early dances and their instruction manuals theorize their own uses of time and thus their own reenactment.

Keywords: reenactment, dance, dance manual, basse danse, bassadanza

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