Branle [brande, brawl, brall, brangill]
- Daniel Heartz
- and Patricia Rader
[brande, brawl, brall, brangill]
A sideways step or movement in the 15th- and 16th-century Basse danse; a variety of French dances of popular character that were widely cultivated over several centuries. Some branles are still danced in France, and branle-like dances (line and circle dances) are popular in many cultures. A group dance, the branle, involves several couples disposed in a circle, in a single-file line or in a line of couples. Randle Cotgrave vividly defined in his Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (London, 1611):
Bransle: a totter, swing, or swindge; a shake, shog, or shocke; a stirring, an uncertain and inconstant motion; … also, a brawl, or daunce, wherein many (men, and women) holding by the hands sometimes in a ring, and otherwise at length, move all together.
The music was often provided by the singing of the participants, and the characteristic motion was a step to the side. Visual illustrations of the dance go back to medieval times, but the term ‘branle’ is relatively recent, being rarely encountered before ...