2018, Sport and Dance in 1599: Arcangelo Tucarro’s “Trois Dialogues de l’exercice de sauter, et voltiger en l’air”

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Tuccaro’s dialogues are one of the very earliest attempts at the theoretical and practical defence of gymnastics. The copy in the British Library was owned by Henry Prince of Wales and was published in a facsimile edition in 1987. Rather surprisingly, of Tucarro’s 197 leaves, a great many are devoted to a debate about the merits and demerits of dance. The dialogues are far from unknown to dance history scholars, but their content has not been widely discussed.

This paper will summarise the various current approaches to this text, examine its basic arguments about the validity of dance and try to understand why Tuccaro would interpolate so much material about dance in a treatise that centres on his mastery as a gymnast. The relationship between sport and dance is still a contested area today; what might Tucarro’s Dialogues suggest about that relationship in the Renaissance?

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Sharon Butler

Sharon Butler studied the literature and culture of the English Renaissance, at first in Canada, and then at the Warburg Institute and the University of London. She has published a number of articles and organised events, conferences and study days. Her working life included teaching, library development and school strategic planning. Sharon is an enthusiastic amateur dancer and current Chair of Pastime Historical Dance, as well as Secretary of EDC and a member of HDS.