The Known World Galliard and Tordion

An Article by Master Hoskuld Atlason of Iceland (Norman Grey)

[Authors note: this article is taken and expanded on a previous article in my "Dancing for the Beginner" series published in Cocatrice.]

The steps

The step used in the galliard and tordion is also called a galliard. Luckily they come in types which are named for the number of movements in the step. The galliard step take six counts but you only make five movements. The five movement galliard is called a cinque-pas. There is also an eleven movement galliard, onze-pas which is twelve counts long. You can also do eighteen, twenty-four, thirty and thirty-six count galliards; however as Arbeau says "But I do not advise you do so because the onlookers might find it wearisome waiting so long for the cadence and think you were out of your mind. And in truth, the memory might become confused in such long passages." [p92-93].

Exactly how you do even the simplest cinque-pas depends on the speed of the music and your agility and size. For example, if you want to do a higher jump you will have to start it sooner than a smaller jump. The following diagram aligns what you do to the music for the simplest cinque-pas, or to quote Arbeau "Then, to keep the correct beats of time in the five steps, one must execute four movements, followed by a saut majeur and the posture." [p 91]

The saut majeur is a large jump. The posteur is how you end the step, ie one foot behind the other with your weight evenly on both feet. The posteur is the important bit. "Regarding these postures you should be forewarned that they are more graceful if the foot behind touches the ground a moment before the one in front. For when they both come down together it looks as if a sack of grain has been dumped on the ground." [p 89].

Note that a cadence is another name given to this combination of saut majeur and a posteur.

When doing galliards it is usual to do a variation on one foot then the other, ie they come in pairs. Here is a simple left cinque-pas.

A simple left cinque-pas



Music count
Music pulse
Dance count
Movement (step)
Dance movement
1
Yes
1
1
Kick with the left foot left, 
i.e. transfer your weight to the right foot with a (small) hop and end with the left foot off the ground, left knee slightly bent, left toes ahead of the left knee.
2
No
2
2
Kick right
3
No
3
3
Kick left
4
Yes
4
4
Kick right
5
No
Jump
6
No
and
6
5
Land on your right foot. 
Place the foot you jumped with (left) on the ground, so that your weight is evenly on both feet.

 
 

I was taught to point the toe when placing the foot on the ground. This appears to be wrong or at least not what Arbeau describes. I will now have to find out where we got this variation from.

It is said that you can tell Morris dancers from the way they galliard. When they do the posteur they do not place the foot on the ground but end with it in the air.

The onze-pas is basically six kicks followed by a cinque-pas.

The Known World Galliard

This choreography has plenty of room for improvisation but also provides a simple minimum base to work with. You repeat the following pattern until the music ends.

The Known World Galliard



Bars
Dance movement
1
Left onze-pas changing place with your partner by right shoulder. 

The path you follow forms a hook with you travelling around your partner and turning in an arc, not on the spot, to face during the last part of the onze-pas. I went back to the source A Collection of Dances Performed in Lochac and Their Most Often Used and Generally Known Tabulations to find out what type of hook and discovered that it was never written down.

Therefore there are two types of hook you can do. The simplest is the "Fish Hook" where you continue past your partner and their starting place then turn 180 degrees in an arc to your right and move forward into their starting place. 

The more complex is the "Cup Hook" in which you change direction, or turn 90 degrees to the right when you come sholder to sholder with your partner. Then you continue the hook in an arc to your left and into your partner's place. 

2
3
Right onze-pas changing place with your partner by your left shoulder. 

Note that this means you follow the same path you used in the previous onze-pas. You do not describe a circle on the floor. 

4
5
Left onze-pas changing place with your partner by your right shoulder. 
6
7
Right onze-pas changing place with your partner by your left shoulder. 
8
9
Left cinque-pas, variation 1. 

You are showing off to your partner, and they to you, so ensure that you are facing them at least at the start and end of a variation.

10
Right cinque-pas, variation 1
11
Left cinque-pas, variation 2
12
Right cinque-pas, variation 2
13
Left cinque-pas, variation 3
14
Right cinque-pas, variation 3
15
Left cinque-pas, variation 4
16
Right cinque-pas, variation 4

The Known World Tordion

In Lochac this is fast and furious. The music we use says so! We do not use the usual tordion music associated with the basse dance that precedes it.

The Known World Tordion



Bars
Dance movement
1
Left cinque-pas traveling forward with your partner. Remember you are holding their hand so do not do steps which may jar them. 
2
Right cinque-pas traveling forward with your partner. 
3
Left cinque-pas traveling forward with your partner. 
4
Right cinque-pas traveling forward with your partner. 
5
Left cinque-pas traveling forward with your partner. 
6
Right cinque-pas traveling forward with your partner. 
7
Left cinque-pas traveling forward with your partner. 
8
Right cinque-pas traveling forward with your partner. 
9-16
8 cinque-pas doing variations to your partner. 

This is the same as in the galliard only the steps are smaller.

I was taught that the in jump (saut majeur) one was supposed to not be traveling forward. This meant that we madly rushed forward in the four kicks then stopped dead in out tracks for the jump and posteur. No mean feat. I suspect that this is a local variation on the step.


Bibliography

Arbeau, Thoinot (1967) Orchesography,
translated by Mary Stewart Evans,

new introduction by Julia Sutton.
Dover: 0486217450
 

A Collection of Dances Performed in Lochac and Their Most Often Used and Generally Known Tabulations
Compiled by Lord Richard de la Croix and Dona Marguerite de Rada y Sylva

Author Norman Gray
aka (in the SCA) Master Hoskuld Atlason of Iceland,
January 2006 (previously published in Cockatrice in 2001)