2022, Canario Siciliana or The Diplomatic Dancing Master

1. The Dance: Volendo ballare il Canari solo…. A courtier at the Spanish court in Palermo, Sicily c.1600 is instructed in the mastery of a solo display of canario mutanze.
2. The Court: The island of Sicily has been occupied by the Spanish since 1559. Now under the harsh rule of Don Geronimo del Carretto, the new court wishes to display the most fashionable dance repertoire and skills.
3. The Dancing Master: Livio Lupi travels from Carravaggio in the Duchy of Milan. He is engaged to teach molte danze stimate tanto appresso gli animi egrigi to the young heir Giralmo and his courtiers.
4. The Book: Libro di Gagliarda, Tordiglione, Passo e Mezzo, Canario e Passeggi 1607. Lupi’s dance manual differs from those of Caroso and Negri. There is no mention of basic step vocabulary and only two balletti. Instead Lupi advises his readers in a very diplomatic tone to focus on Di nuovo corretti & con l’Aggiunta, a fresh perspective on a small core of steps and dynamics and on the primary forms listed in his title for which he proposes many variations of the execution and embellishment of the core late 16thc repertoire.
5. Sicily’s Cultural Heritage: invasion and colonisation by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Spanish. The pervasive natural influences of seas and shores. The reputation and realisation of Canario as a dance of barbarians, savages, wild masquerade (early 16thc Spanish colonisation, Arbeau, Caroso).
6. Influence: what might have influenced the dancers’ choice in creating his/her solo canario? What might have informed its inclusion in his diplomatic dance manual?


Hazel Dennison. Inspired by Early dance classes whilst studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama Hazel later gained the teaching certificate of the DHDS. Her work draws on a diverse and extensive practice in drama, dance and theatre studies through production, performance, research and choreography. She continues teaching at all levels of education, on summer schools, workshops and heritage programmes. Her current research encompasses the early and late European and English renaissance c.1400-1610, with specific reference to Domenico da Piacenza and the d’Este court in Ferrara.