There is a general acceptance that the mysterious medieval dance form, the Estampie, was a high status stately couple dance, some view it as a forerunner to the Basse form. At least that is how it is perceived but is there any evidence to support that perception? Delving into the challenging distant medieval world of which only patchy information is still available, this paper will explore and question that accepted perception of a slow stately couple dance. Using Le Manuscript du Roi as a case study and examining the range of musical and iconographic sources and importantly, contemporary accounts of dance and performance, new theories of what the Estampie may have been, can be hypothesised. While we may never find conclusive evidence to categorically be certain which one interpretation is the ‘authentic’ one, this paper will challenge the evidence that supports the existing perception and offer alternative readings of the dance form.
Charlotte Ewart is a dance teacher, choreographer and movement director. She is currently the Associate Artist for Historic Royal Palaces where she has created movement and choreography for events set across the 15th-17th centuries. For Hampton Court Palace, she is researching dance and the role of women in the tournaments of Henry VIII. She completed her MA at the University of Roehampton focusing on the nature of authenticity in relation to re-creating dance for the 13th century Estampie music (MS 844). Working with Professor Tom Betteridge at Brunel University, she has been involved with three major practice as research projects attempting to re-create court Masques. She lives in beautiful sunny Sussex by the sea!