Peasant Wedding Dance

Peasant Wedding Dance

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Detroit Exhibit Celebrates Bruegel’s ‘The Wedding Dance’ and Its Controversial Codpieces

Long before there were jockstraps, codpieces scandalized the world in both art and life. These ostentatious ornaments, sewn onto trousers first to disguise, then emphasize, the nether regions of the male body, stoked so much controversy that they were once censored out of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1566 painting The Wedding Dance.

Now, art buffs have the chance to view the painting and its jovial cast of characters in their full glory. To mark the 450th anniversary of Bruegel’s death, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) will host an exhibition centered entirely on the acquisition and evolution of one of the artist’s most celebrated works—codpieces and all.

Stretching across three galleries, the exhibition, titled “Bruegel’s The Wedding Dance Revealed,” is the culmination of four years of archival research and scientific testing by the museum’s art and conservation staff, reports the Art Newspaper’s Nancy Kenney. That might seem like a lengthy period to focus on just one painting, but over the past four-plus centuries, this particular oil-on-panel artwork has endured its fair share of controversy—and not just for its prominent phallic flaps.

When Bruegel first set to work on The Wedding Dance, the Netherlands was in a state of turmoil. Spain’s Philip II, a devout Roman Catholic who wielded governmental authority over the region, had begun to crack down on the practice of Protestantism and the many peasants that followed the religion. Bruegel’s painting was a fervid rebuttal to this foreign incursion—a way of “reminding his fellow citizens of traditional values,” as George Keyes, the DIA’s chief curator and curator of European paintings, told the Detroit Metro Times’ Rebecca Mazzei in 2006.

Tomasz Wazny of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun assesses the edge of a wood panel of The Wedding Dance. (Detroit Institute of Arts)

The painting’s subjects—the guests of a wedding reception—are an accordingly uninhibited bunch. Spirits bolstered by booze and live music, they flirt, dance, gossip and kiss in the scene’s crowded landscape. The atmosphere is warm, jovial and vivacious. With vivid pigments and an abundance of curves, Bruegel’s painting captures the invigorating frivolity of everyday people, unencumbered by the oppression of a new regime. And yes, there are codpieces, a fixture of the time meant to draw attention to male anatomy but also helpful in providing easy access for men looking to relieve themselves after knocking back a few. (Bruegel didn’t exactly make a name for himself by shirking the realities of human physiology.)

This frank, almost voyeuristic glimpse into Netherlandish life didn’t sit well with certain viewers. At some point in the artwork’s past, a vandal scratched or scribbled lines on five of its most prominent codpieces. The offending attire was then painted over. A 1941 restoration, explored in depth in the DIA exhibition, reversed the treatment, unveiling the offending accoutrement to the world once more.

But even in 1941, “The codpieces were not very welcomed,” says Ellen Hanspach-Bernal, DIA’s paintings conservator, to Kenney. “We have a lot of letters in our curatorial and registration files where people beg the museum to use the censored version in their publications.”

Composite image of The Wedding Dance, depicting half of the painting in normal light and the other half in infrared (DIA)

The rest of the exhibition is arguably tamer, opening with DIA’s acquisition of the painting from a gallery in London in 1930. Purchased for nearly $38,000, The Wedding Dance returned the favor by sustaining the museum through Detroit’s rise from bankruptcy in 2013.

Although the methods underlying conservation and restoration typically take place behind the scenes, they take center stage in “Bruegel’s The Wedding Dance Revealed,” which highlights research tools including X-ray fluorescence spectography and visible near-infrared fiber-optics reflectance spectroscopy. Through these displays, the viewer is transported into the creation of the artwork itself, from Bruegel’s detailed underdrawing to the pigments and brushes he used to bring it to life—as well as several of the modifications that followed.

“Artworks are not static,” the exhibition’s website reads, “but instead subject to natural aging, human intervention, as well as changing shifts in attitude and taste.”

Bruegel’s The Wedding Dance Revealed” is on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts from December 14, 2019, to August 30, 2020.


Some cultures have adopted the traditional Western custom of the white wedding, in which a bride wears a white wedding dress and veil. This tradition was popularized through the marriage of Queen Victoria. Some say Victoria's choice of a white gown may have simply been a sign of extravagance, but may have also been influenced by the values she held which emphasized sexual purity. [1] Within the modern 'white wedding' tradition, a white dress and veil are unusual choices for a woman's second or subsequent wedding.

The use of a wedding ring has long been part of religious weddings in Europe and America, but the origin of the tradition is unclear. One possibility is the Roman belief in the Vena amoris, which was believed to be a blood vessel that ran from the fourth finger (ring finger) directly to the heart. Thus, when a couple wore rings on this finger, their hearts were connected. Historian Vicki Howard points out that the belief in the "ancient" quality of the practice is most likely a modern invention. [2] "Double ring" ceremonies are also a modern practice, a groom's wedding band not appearing in the United States until the early 20th century. [3]

The exit from the wedding ceremony is also called the "send off", and often includes traditional practices, such as the newlyweds and the wedding party bowing and kissing the knees of the elders in Ethiopian weddings. The send off often includes throwing rice (a symbol of prosperity and fertility) [4] or other seeds at the newlyweds in most of the Western world, [5] as well as for example India [4] and Malaysia. [6] Despite fears of the opposite, the use of uncooked rice for this purpose is not harmful to birds. [7] Shoe tossing in place of rice has also been used in several cultures. [8]

The wedding ceremony is often followed by wedding reception or a wedding breakfast, in which the rituals may include speeches from the groom, best man, father of the bride and possibly the bride, [9] the newlyweds' first dance as a couple, and the cutting of an elegant wedding cake. In recent years traditions have changed to include a father-daughter dance for the bride and her father, and sometimes also a mother-son dance for the groom and his mother.

    , traditional garments of Vietnam , an embroidered, formal men's garment of the Philippines and Kebaya, a garment worn by the Javanese people of Indonesia and also by the Malay people of Malaysia , the traditional West African wedding attire , male garment in South India , the traditional garment of Korea , male garment particular to Scottish culture[10][11][12] , a white robe worn by the groom at an Orthodox Jewish wedding. The kittel is worn only under the chuppah, and is removed before the reception.
  • Kua (or 裙褂 [kwàhn kwáa]), Chinese traditional formal wear , often worn by American Indian men on auspicious occasions, such as weddings, another common custom is to wrap bride and groom in a blanket , traditional dress in Cambodia /Lehenga, Indian popular and traditional dress in India
  • Seshweshe, a female dress worn by the Basotho women during special ceremonies. Although it has recently been adopted to men attire as well. , a long coat-like garment worn in South Asia , a traditional wedding garment in Japan , or wedding crown, worn by Syrian and Greek couples (which are called "τα στέφανα," which literally means "wreaths") and Scandinavian brides , a type of conical headgear traditionally worn by grooms as part of the Bengali Hindu wedding ceremony
      , western daytime formal dress ("evening dress" in the U.K very formal evening attire) or Evening Suit ("dinner jacket" in the U.K often referred to as a "tuxedo" in the U.S traditionally appropriate only for use after 6:00 p.m.
  • Non-traditional "tuxedo" variants (colored jackets/ties, "wedding suits")

    Khmer (Cambodian) wedding in traditional outfits

    A bride and a bridegroom in Nepal

    Japanese bride and bridegroom

    Traditional Armenian wedding dress

    Chinese traditional wedding dress, Qing Dynasty style

    Chinese traditional wedding clothing, Ming Dynasty style

    Chinese traditional wedding attire, Zhou Dynasty style

    Wedding 1935 in Barcelona, Spain

    Groom in the traditional dress of Bangladesh in a wedding ceremony.

    Sri Lankan Kandyan Bride and Groom Sri Lanka

    Armenian Wedding at Khor Virap

    The traditional attire of Malabar Thiyyar (Tiyya)

    A traditional wedding ceremony in Jomala, Åland

    Aadiwasi tribal marriage groom bride, India

    Rural marriage ceremony in Mymensingh, Bangladesh

    Western weddings Edit

    Music played at Western weddings includes a processional song for walking down the aisle (ex: wedding march) either before or after the marriage service. An example of such use is reported in the wedding of Nora Robinson and Alexander Kirkman Finlay in 1878. [13]

    The "Bridal Chorus" from Lohengrin by Richard Wagner, commonly known as "Here Comes the Bride", is often used as the processional. Wagner is said to have been anti-Semitic, [14] and as a result, the Bridal Chorus is normally not used at Jewish weddings. [15] UK law forbids music with any religious connotations to be used in a civil ceremony. [16]

    Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D is an alternative processional. [17] Other alternatives include various contemporary melodies, such as Bob Marley's One Love, which is sometimes performed by a steel drum band.

    In the United States, approximately 2 million people get married each year and close to 70 million people attend a wedding and spend more than $100 on a gift. [18]

    Most religions recognize a lifelong union with established ceremonies and rituals. Some religions permit polygamous marriages or same-sex marriages.

    Many Christian faiths emphasize the raising of children as a priority in a marriage. In Judaism, marriage is so important that remaining unmarried is deemed unnatural. [ citation needed ] Islam also recommends marriage highly among other things, it helps in the pursuit of spiritual perfection. [ citation needed ] The Baháʼí Faith believes that marriage is a foundation of the structure of society, and considers it both a physical and spiritual bond that endures into the afterlife. [19] Hinduism sees marriage as a sacred duty that entails both religious and social obligations. [ citation needed ] By contrast, Buddhism does not encourage or discourage marriage, although it does teach how one might live a happily married life and emphasizes that marital vows are not to be taken lightly. [ citation needed ]

    Different religions have different beliefs as regards the breakup of marriage. For example, the Roman Catholic Church believes that marriage is a sacrament and a valid marriage between two baptized persons cannot be broken by any other means than death. This means that civil divorcés cannot remarry in a Catholic marriage while their spouse is alive. In the area of nullity, religions and the state often apply different rules. A couple, for example, may begin the process to have their marriage annulled by the Catholic Church only after they are no longer married in the eyes of the civil authority.

    Customs associated with various religions and cultures Edit

    Christian customs Edit

    Most Christian churches give some form of blessing to a marriage, which is seen as a sacred institution in some sense, although terminology and associated theological meanings vary widely from one denomination to another: e.g., "holy matrimony," "sacrament of marriage," "holy ordinance of marriage," "holy union," and so forth.

    In some Western countries, a separate and secular civil wedding ceremony is required for recognition by the state, while in other Western countries, couples must merely obtain a marriage license from a local government authority and can be married by Christian or other clergy authorized by law to do so.

    Since the beginning of the 21st century, same-sex couples have been allowed to marry civilly in many countries, and some Christian churches in those countries allow religious marriages of same-sex couples, though some forbid it. See the article Same-sex marriage.

    A Christian wedding ceremony typically includes mutual vows or solemn promises of lifelong love and fidelity by the couple, and may include some sort of pledge by the community to support the couple's relationship. A church wedding is a ceremony held in a church building and presided over by a Christian priest, minister, or pastor weddings may also take place outdoors or in secular buildings if permitted by the rules of a particular denomination.

    Wedding ceremonies typically contain prayers and readings from the Holy Bible and reflect the church's teachings about the spiritual significance of marriage, as well as its purpose and obligations. The wedding service is sometimes combined with a Mass or Holy Communion. [20]

    Customs may vary widely among denominations. Pre-marital counseling may be urged or required for the engaged couple. [21] In some countries or denominations, the reading of banns of marriage may also be required before the wedding date. [22]

    In the Roman Catholic Church, Holy Matrimony is considered to be one of the seven sacraments, in this case, one that the spouses bestow upon each other in front of a priest and members of the community as witnesses. As with all sacraments, it is seen as having been instituted by Jesus himself (see Gospel of Matthew 19:1–2, Catechism of the Catholic Church §1614–1615). In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is one of the Mysteries and is seen as an ordination and a martyrdom. The wedding ceremony of Saint Thomas Christians, an ethnoreligious group of Christians in India, incorporates elements from Hindu, Jewish, and Christian weddings.

    Protestant weddings may be elaborate or simple. For example, in the United Methodist Church, the Service of Christian Marriage (Rite I) includes the elements found in a typical Sunday service, such as hymns, prayers, and readings from the Bible, as well as other elements unique to a wedding, including the exchange of marriage vows and wedding rings, and a special benediction for the couple. [23] Holy Communion may be part of the wedding service in liturgical Protestant churches (e.g., Anglican, Lutheran, or high-church Methodist), but is rarely, if ever, found in weddings of other low-church Protestant denominations.

    A Quaker wedding ceremony in a Friends meeting is similar to any other meeting for worship, and therefore often very different from the experience expected by non-Friends.

    Ignore the art market – there is only one Bruegel that matters

    Pieter Bruegel the Elder is the only genius in his family – so why is the UK being flooded with the inferior work of his offspring?

    A second-rate simulacrum … Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s painting Wedding Dance in the Open Air. Photograph: Dominic Brown/Holburne Museum

    A second-rate simulacrum … Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s painting Wedding Dance in the Open Air. Photograph: Dominic Brown/Holburne Museum

    Last modified on Thu 22 Feb 2018 17.11 GMT

    W hy does the British art world persist in pretending there is more than one great artist called Bruegel, or indeed Brueghel? The Holburne Museum’s new exhibition claims to be “the UK’s first exhibition devoted to the Bruegel dynasty,” but this Flemish family get all too much attention, from high-profile sales to campaigns to “save” their art.

    Did you notice that variation in the spelling of the family name? Here is my golden rule: the only Bruegel worth bothering with is the one whose name is spelled without the “h”. Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c1525–69) is one of the most imaginative, original and captivating artists in history. He painted The Hunters in the Snow, that unforgettable image of hunched up peasants, cosy cottages and joyous skaters in a white winter world.

    He also painted The Tower of Babel, a surreal vision of a mega-structure like a cross between the Colosseum and a termite mound that dwarfs its builders and the town below. Another of his fantastic visions is The Triumph of Death with its army of skeletons who mercilessly massacre the living.

    The genius of Bruegel shows itself not just in his wild imagination – in which he resembles the southern Dutch visionary Hieronymus Bosch – but his acute feeling for landscape and human behaviour. He travelled to Italy and the scenery he saw on his journey (especially crossing the Alps) haunts his paintings, giving them a panoramic, map-like quality. Scenes such as The Hunters in the Snow seem to sum up the very nature of life on earth in their geographical sweep and anthropological scope. Like Shakespeare, he can capture the theatre of life in scenes that are comic yet full of acute psychological portraits. Look at the faces in his picture The Peasant Wedding and the tensions of love and jealousy in The Peasant Dance.

    The Hunters in the Snow (1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Photograph: G Nimitallah/De Agostini/Getty Images

    Bruegel is one of western art’s most profound observers of the human condition, the painter who inspired Auden’s line: “About suffering they were never wrong, the old masters.” So who are all these other Bruegels, or Brueghels, the art world wants to distract us with?

    Before he died in his 40s, Bruegel had two sons, who also became painters – Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/5–1637/8) and Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568–1625). Jan’s son also joined the family business and is known as Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-78). There were other, lesser descendants, too.

    I don’t mind the works of Bruegel’s children and grandchildren. Jan the Elder’s flowers are nice, and Pieter Brueghel the Younger made invaluable copies of his father’s lost works. But why are British museums and art dealers such as Christies, which staged a Brueghel show in 2014, so obsessed with these lesser painters?

    Because our private and public collections are full of their so-so product. Indeed, one of the reasons the Holburne is staging its show is that its director spotted that a supposed copy of one of Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s works in its collection is now seen as an original. As the museum enthuses, this peasant dance “can be attributed firmly to the hand of Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Previously thought to be the work of a copyist or follower of Brueghel, it now takes its place as the only version of this popular scene in a UK public museum.”

    Jan Brueghel the Younger’s Adam Naming the Animals. Photograph: Holburne Museum

    This boast typifies the way the art world’s experts are happy to confuse the public about Bruegel and his family. Brueghel the Younger is not a great artist: his paintings are pastiches and often copies of his father’s style. So why is it such a big deal to attribute a painting to him? A more accurate version of this blurb might read: “A painting once thought to be a copy of a copyist has now been credited to the original copyist. It is a genuine second-rate simulacrum of the works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder.”

    Pieter Brueghel the Younger - The Peasant Wedding Feast

    This depiction of an outdoor peasant wedding feast by Pieter Brueghel the Younger is one of only eight versions of a composition devised during the artist's later phase after 1616. As Klaus Ertz remarks, it represents the painter “at the pinnacle of his career” and is among “the highlights of the artist's production” (Ertz, op cit., p. 659ff). As Ertz also states, the work, which was previously housed in a West German private collection, is “of very fine quality” (Ertz, op. cit., p. 714) and is preserved in exceedingly good condition. The panel bears the mark of the Antwerp painter's guild to the reverse and has been slightly trimmed to the left edge. The composition (which Ertz refers to as 'wedding feast depiction type A') picks up an important and popular motif originating from Pieter's father, but interprets it in a new and different way.

    The rustic feast takes place in the expansive courtyard of a farmstead, in which a long, low table has been set, filling the entire width of the foreground. Men and women, young and old, and even a dog have gathered around the table, where they enjoy a meal. We see figures pouring drinks, passing or sharing food, feeding their children or flirting, whilst the bagpipe player takes a break from playing to refresh himself. However, the actual protagonists of the scene, the bride and groom, are not found among the revellers in the foreground. Instead, they are relegated to a separate table on the right edge of the composition. The bride sits before a red cloth with a paper crown and surrounded by her family and retinue. Although this table retains a veneer of decorum, two guests have also begun to exchange caresses. At least the bagpipe player at the bridal table does not neglect his duties of entertaining the guests. In the background, we see the bride's parents honouring the old custom of donating bread to the needy, and the stew being prepared in a large cauldron.

    Both the composition and iconography of Pieter Brueghel's Outdoor Wedding Feast represent a masterful development of his father's motif. The elongated table allows the artist to present his figures as if in a frieze, lined up in all manner of poses. We see figures from the front and back, kneeling, standing, crouching, recumbent, looking left and the right, raising their arms, drinking, toasting, eating and embracing. Each motif forms an element of interaction between two or more figures, their poses creating a rhythmic movement, and leading the viewer's gaze from group to group. For example, the figure of a woman on the left edge of the work, who we see simultaneously accepting the embraces of a male companion as well as a bowl of stew, is not only an amusing addition, but also serves to guide the viewer's eye across the composition.

    The frieze like composition of the central figures leads the viewer towards the table on the right, the diagonal position of which in turn guides them back towards the centre. The vividly glowing colours of the green, yellow, red, and blue of the figures' clothing accentuate this pictorial rhythm. Pieter Brueghel borrows the compositional principles from country fair and dance scenes, applying them to his depiction of a wedding feast to create a new, dynamic and witty version of this subject.

    The long table with the feasting peasants is not only a successful compositional arrangement, but also a clever iconographic device. Pieter Brueghel centres his composition on those figures relegated to the side table who, although separated from the more important wedding guests, seem the merrier company. It speaks for the artist's sense of humour that he placed the actual protagonists of the scene, the bride, to the side of the image to make the lesser, but jollier, party the centre of attention.

    The diagonal placement of the bridal table references the famous work by Pieter Brueghel's father, which first made the peasant wedding motif worthy of painting (fig. 1 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, inv. no. GG 1027). With this pictorial reference, Pieter Brueghel indicates his respect for the creations of his illustrious father. However, by placing his motif to the side of his work, and the low table with its frieze like arrangement of figures in the centre, he also demonstrates his ability to reimagine the wedding feast motif in an innovative way showing an artist “at the pinnacle of his career”. In his art, Pieter Brueghel aimed to continue the tradition established by his father whilst simultaneously creating his own, unique ideas. It was this mix of tradition and innovation that contemporaries most valued in Pieter Brueghel's art, as documented in a poem praising the artist beneath a portrait by Aegidius Sadeler II ("Nature, which the hand of the father expressed, lives in art. Art, which the genius of the son follows, lives in nature.“ fig. 2).

    Fig. 1: Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Peasant Wedding Feast, circa 1568, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, inv. no. 1027
    ©KHM-Museumsverband. Reproduction

    Fig. 2: Aegidius Sadeler II after Bartholomeus Spranger: Portrait of Pieter Brueghel the Younger, copperplate engraving

    The Peasant Dance

    The Peasant Dance is an oil-on-panel by the Netherlandish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, painted in c. 1569. It was looted by Napoleon Bonaparte and brought to Paris in 1808, being returned in 1815. Today it is held by and exhibited at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

    The panel, neither signed nor dated, was painted circa 1567, at about the same time as The Peasant Wedding. The paintings are the same size and may have been intended as a pair or as part of a series illustrating peasant life. They are the two most outstanding examples of Bruegel's late style, which is characterized by his use of monumental Italianate figures.

    Like The Peasant Wedding, it is likely that Bruegel intended this painting to have a moral sense rather than simply being an affectionate portrayal of peasant life. Gluttony, lust and anger can all be identified in the picture. The man seated next to the bagpipe player wears a peacock feather in his hat, a symbol of vanity and pride. The occasion for the peasants' revelry is a Saint's day, but dancers turn their backs on the church and pay no attention whatsoever to the image of the Virgin which hangs on the tree. The prominence of the tavern makes it clear that they are preoccupied with material rather than spiritual matters.

    This is a part of the Wikipedia article used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). The full text of the article is here →

    5. Definitions of dance - dance word origins, history. what is dance?

    In the conventional sense, the word 'dance' basically means moving one's body , in some sort of rhythmical way, usually to the accompaniment of music.

    However, the degree to which 'the accompaniment of music' and 'rhythmical' must feature in any definition of dance is matter of interpretation and opinion (especially in terms of technical language, and/or in terms of dance context).

    Strictly speaking (no pun intended - the word 'Strictly' has become synonymous with dance due to the TV series 'Strictly Come Dancing') dance does not necessarily require music , and plenty of formal definitions do not require that music be part of any activity which legitimately can be called 'dance'. The matter of 'rhythm' or 'rhythmical' being an essential aspect of dance is also debatable, since plenty of legitimate actual forms of dance do not entail moving to a rhythm as such, especially when we consider conventional definitions of 'rhythm', which generally include the movement criteria of regular, repeated, systematic, measured, and sequential.

    If we apply 'rhythm' and/or 'to the accompaniment of music' absolutely to the definition of dance, then a completely improvised 'dance' (that is irregular, non-repeatable, unmeasured, unsystematic, and non-sequential) to the sound of ocean waves, or the wind through the trees, or to complete silence, would not qualify to be called a 'dance', when by all reasonable appreciation it most certainly would be regarded as dance.

    So we must be careful not to define 'dance' too rigidly, or we begin to exclude many activities that correctly should be called dance.

    Now as regards more formal definitions and language, the word 'dance' is extraordinary for a number of reasons.

    Firstly the word 'dance' is both a noun and a verb :

    A dance is a thing - a noun . And dance is an action - a verb (a 'doing word').

    Also the word 'dance' alone does not need the word 'a' in front of it, in which case it's a rather bigger sort of noun - like 'life' has a big meaning of 'life' (e.g., 'life on earth') as well as meaning your life or my life or a person's life.

    So 'dance' is a noun meaning a single dance 'a movement to rhythm', and it's also a noun meaning the concept or entire subject of dance.

    Let's look first at 'dance' as a noun..

    Definitions of the noun 'dance':

    These dictionary definitions are offered here with the warning, explained above, that we should not define 'dance' too rigidly, and especially we should be flexible in the notion that dance be rhythmic and accompanied by music..

    The Oxford English Dictionary main definition of dance, the noun, is: &ldquoDance (noun) - A series of steps and movements that match the speed and rhythm of a piece of music. &rdquo

    Interestingly the definition from the 1922 OED is more flexible than the above modern definition, because it does not say that music is essential: "Dance (noun) - A rhythmical skipping and stepping, with regular turnings and movements of the limbs and body, usually to the accompaniment of music. "

    Websters Dictionary (an important USA dictionary) defines dance as: "Dance - To move the body and feet rhythmically, especially to music. "

    Definitions of the verb 'dance':

    The Oxford English Dictionary definition of dance, the verb, is: "Dance (verb) - Move rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps. "

    The 1922 OED definition of dance, the verb, is: "Dance" (verb) - To leap, skip, hop, or glide, with measured steps and rhythmical movement of the body, usually to a musical accompaniment. "

    Samuel Johnson's 1755 English dictionary - the first dictionary of common English - says that dance (verb) means: ". To move in measure to move with steps correspondent to the sound of instruments.."

    Thesaurus words for dance, dancing, dancer

    A thesaurus is a dictionary-type of book that offers synonyms - words of equivalent meanings - and similar and related alternatives to words - rather than strict definitions.

    The equivalent/similar/related words offered by a thesaurus aid the appreciation of the meaning and range of the word dance, and its associated forms, such as dancing and dancer.

    Here are some of the main alternatives and variations that a thesaurus offers for the word 'dance' and 'dancing' (from the 1982 thesaurus published by Penguin, UK).

    Thesaurus alternatives for 'dance' and dancing (noun):

    ball, masquerade, 'the dansant', tea dance, ceilidh (Irish pronounced 'kay-lee'), square dance, hoe-down' hop, jam session, disco, ballet, old time dance, folk dancing country dance, Scottish dance, sequence dancing, ballroom dancing, Terpsichore, war dance, sword dance, corroboree, shuffle, soft-shoe, cake-walk, pas seul, clog dance, step dance, tap dance, fan dance, toe dance, dance of the seven veils, hula-hula, high kicks, cancan, belly dance, gipsy dance, flamenco, morris dance, barn dance, hay, hornpipe, keel row, polonaise, mazurka, fling, Highland fling, reel, Strathspey, Gay Gordons, strip the willow, Dashing White Sergeant, tarantella, bolero, fandango, cotillion, galliard, ecossaise, gavotte, quadrille, minuet, pavane, saraband, schottische, polka, waltz, valeta, lancers, foxtrot, quickstep, Charleston, black bottom, two-step, pasa-doble, tango. rumba, samba, mambo, bossa nova, habanero, beguine, conga, cha-cha, hokey-cokey, Palais Glide, stomp, shimmy, jive, rock'n'roll, twist, Paul Jones, snowball, corps de ballet, jitterbug, choreography, modern dance, solo, pas de deux, chasse, glissade, arabesque, fouette, plie, pirouette, rotation, entrechat, jete.

    Those are just the main synonyms and words which might equate to a dance and dancing, and mainly from a British angle. There are hundreds more synonyms and alternative possible words meaning dance and dancing, especially when we consider more recent or informal or international words, that might not be included in official dictionaries and thesaurus books yet..

    A similarly long list of alternatives would be shown by a thesaurus for the word 'dancer'.

    Besides illustrating the depth and variety of words that exist for the concept of dance, a thesaurus perspective also demonstrates the vast cultural implications of dance, which is a different matter compared to the strict definitions of dance offered by a standard dictionary.

    Other interesting points about the word dance.

    A word that is both a noun - (especially where it is a single limited individual thing, and also an entire concept) - and a verb can be powerful, and this this is certainly the case with 'dance'.

    Some profound fundamental words do not have these qualities - for example 'food', 'life', 'song', 'birth', and 'death', all of which have rather different verb forms.

    Dance is in a special group of words - which are both noun and verb, and fundamental to human existence - for example 'love', 'drink', 'talk', 'walk', and 'rain'.

    Moreover there are few words - in the same form - that refer to an entire universal concept ('dance' as a concept), and to a single example within the concept ('a dance'), and to a verb ('to dance').

    • Dance refers to the entire universal concept of dancing (big noun)
    • A dance can be a single event or action (small noun)
    • And dance is the verb to dance (verb).

    So besides its more complex meanings and interpretations, the word dance is grammatically quite unusual.

    A definition of dance/dancing according to its characteristics..

    When a big concept can mean different things it is difficult to define it in a short sentence.

    For example, a 'hatpin' is easy to define in a short sentence. There is absolutely no doubt what a hatpin is from the short definition, i.e., "Hatpin (noun) - a long pin with a large ornamental head, that holds a woman's hat in position by securing it to her hair."

    If we try to define bigger concepts such as love or life or death or air - or dance - in a short sentence then we can confuse and complicate matters, either by offering a definition that is too vague, or by trying to cover all possible interpretations, in which case the definition becomes a big description containing mostly unhelpful information for a given single perspective.

    So another helpful way to define a big concept like dance is to offer the main defining characteristics - some of all of which might apply to any particular example.

    Here is a list of characterizing or qualifying characteristics for 'dance'. This can be regarded as another way to help to define dance. This is not an official list, it is created for this webpage by the author. You can devise your own characteristics if you wish, or adapt this. Remember some or all of these might apply, in order for something to be considered a form of 'dance' or 'dancing':

    • Movement of the body - typically rhythmic and coordinated or in some way following a pattern or method.
    • Usually, but not necessarily, music accompanies dancing.
    • Dance is a way of communicating and expressing ideas and emotions, as well as a way of exercising and enjoying life.
    • Dance is non-verbal, physical and empowering - it attracts interest and attention, and is an extension of human moods.
    • For many people, the urge to dance is an irresistible impulse, that starts at birth and lasts throughout life. Many people start instinctively foot tapping and moving to certain music.
    • Dance is infectious and communal - it is a natural social lubricant, bond, and relationship builder. Throughout human existence dance has been a main method by which men and women meet and discover each other, test compatibility, and date and mate.
    • Dance is also an art form. Dance performance combines the skills of amateur or professional dancers, ballerinas and choreographers, etc., to produce entertainment that can be intensely expressive, so that dance delights and thrills people, some of whom might not actually enjoy or feel confident in dancing themselves.

    Origins of the word dance..

    Origins of words offer information as to their meanings and history.

    Chambers Etymological Dictionary (of word origins) suggests that dance came into English from French about 1300, firstly as dauncer, from Old French dancier, and before this either from Frankish dintjan (like Middle Dutch deinsen, and densen, to shrink back), or from Vulgar Latin deanteare, from Late Latin deante, meaning 'in front of', from de and ante.

    Cassells etymological dictionary is certain that dance came into English from Old French dancer, to dance, 12-14thC, and which also became the modern French word 'danser' meaning to dance, and that these words came from Frankish dintjan, which is of uncertain origin.

    Cassells also explains that the Old English word for dance is sealtian, from/related to Latin saltare, dance, in turn from salire, to leap, and which is the same Latin root as that of the saltarello, a Spanish/Italian dance for one couple, characterized by leaps and skips.

    Samuel Johnson's 1755 English dictionary - the first English dictionary for common words - says that dance is from French, danser, and dancar, Spanish, and thought by some to derive from tanza, in the 'Arabick' language (meaning Arabic).

    Interestingly the origins of the word dance via Latin through French became confused because there was a religious ban on dancing in the Middle Ages, which affected the evolution of the word. Significant in 'dance word history' is that dance was such a powerful concept that religious authorities in France decided to ban dancing altogether. English culture and language is substantially influenced by French (about 50% of English language is basically from French), mainly due to the Norman Conquest invasion (1066) and subsequent French governance, and widescale occupation and conversion of English society and national identity. The word dance is heavily influenced by this aspect of Anglo-French history. We 'dance' because the French (notably the Norman French) invaded and colonized England. Had the Romans or Vikings been similarly colonial, and left more of their culture after invading England, then our word for dance might be 'danza' (Italian) or similar, or 'danzleikr' (old Norse) or similar. Or if the Normans had not invaded, then given the prevalence of Germanic words in English, conceivably 'dance' would today instead be closer to the German dance noun/verb 'tanz' and 'tenzen'.

    Within this brief overview of dance etymology and its main European equivalents, we also see similarities in the words for dance in the different languages, suggesting a very old word from a very old root, way back in time when European language was first developing from 'Indo-European' and similar ancient languages, prior to western civilisation itself, in the prehistoric times of hunter-gatherers. This was before the need to have words beyond the most basic in life - before paper and books and pencils and writing. This would be in the days when people's language vocabularies were spoken only, and included just essential words like food and drink, and run and sleep and sun and sky. and dance.

    The word 'dance' in other languages.

    This is delightful and interesting.

    This is not a full list of all the international words for dance.

    • Albanian - valle
    • Basque - dantza
    • Bosnian - ples
    • Catalan - dansa
    • Croatian - ples
    • Czech - tanec
    • Danish - dans
    • Dutch - dans
    • Esperanto - danco
    • Estonian - tants
    • Finnish - tanssi
    • French - danse
    • Galician - danza
    • German - tanz
    • Greek - &chi&omicron&rhoό&sigmaf
    • Hungarian - tánc
    • Icelandic - dans
    • Irish - rince
    • Italian - danza
    • Latin - choro
    • Latvian - deja
    • Lithuanian - &scaronokis
    • Maltese - żfin
    • Norwegian - dans
    • Polish - taniec
    • Portuguese - dança
    • Romanian - dans
    • Russian - танец
    • Serbian - плес
    • Slovak - tanec
    • Slovenian - ples
    • Spanish - baile
    • Swedish - dans
    • Ukrainian - танець
    • Welsh - dawns

    The use of dance and dancer and dancing in historical language, slang, expressions, etc..

    The words dance, dancing, and dancer feature strongly in English sayings, slang and colloquial (informal common) language.

    These expressions and descriptions of dance imagery are part of the cultural history of dance - and life - and illustrate the richly textured relationships between people and societies, with dance and dancing. The varied ways that dance/dancing features in metaphors and common expressions emphasise that dance/dancing has been a deeply symbolic concept for hundreds of years in the English language, and therefore life.

    Dance/dancing metaphors and expressions and slang feature widely in other national languages and cultures, so these English language examples below are just a tiny fraction of the extent of dance imagery, in language and communications to convey feelings and ideas, all over the world.

    Eric Partridge's famous Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English first published in 1937 offers several fascinating uses of the word dance. These examples are interesting because they reflect society and language of the 1800s and early 1900s:

    • lead (someone) a dance - to cause someone excessive worry or effort
    • dance a haka - to exhibit joy - from and referring to the New Zealand Maori haka ceremonial dance
    • "(She/you/I will) dance at your funeral.." - a personal jibe or piece of banter or insult
    • dance barefoot - referring to a woman whose younger sister marries before her
    • dance in the half-pick - (Yorkshire England) reference to a man 'left behind as a bachelor, on a brother's marriage'
    • dance the reel of o'Stumple (or reel of bogie) - sexual intercourse
    • dance to a person's whistle or pipe - unquestioningly obey someone
    • dance the stairs - (quickly) burgle an office or flat
    • dancer - a cat burglar
    • 'fake a dance' - meant to improvise a forgotten step
    • dancers - stairs - incidentally Captain Francis Groce's 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (English slang) provides an earlier reference than Partridge (1937) for 'dancers' being slang for stairs.
    • dancing - locomotive wheels slipping on the tracks
    • dancing on the carpet - summoned to the superintendent's office for reprimand (this expression is nowadays shortened to 'on the carpet' - meaning receiving a reprimand at work)
    • 'dance' was a slang reference being hanged - a shortening of various longer terms including: dance upon nothing (in a hempen cravat) dance the Tyburn jig (Tyburn was the famous London prison) and dance the Paddington frisk (Paddington refers to Tyburn) - all meaning to be hanged - and also - dancer and dancing master referred to a hangman.

    Brewer's 1870 dictionary of Phrase and Fable says of dance: "Dance. The Spanish danza was a grave and courtly dance. Those of the seventeenth century were called the Turdion, Pabasna, Madama Orleans, Piedelgiba'o, El Rey Don Alonzo, and El Caballer'o. Most of the names were taken from the ballad-music to which they were danced. The light dances were called Bayle. "

    Brewer continues, and offers a list of the 'National Dances', which gives us a perspective of national dances as perceived in 1800s England:

    • Bohemian (Romany gypsy) - the Redo'wa
    • English - the Hornpipe and the Lancers
    • French - the Contredanse (country dance), Cotillan, and Quadrille
    • German - the Gallopade and Waltz
    • Irish - the Jig
    • Neapolitan - the Taran'tella
    • Polish - the Mazurka and Krakovieck
    • Russian - the Cossac
    • Scotch - the Reel
    • Spanish - the Bole'ro and Fandango

    Brewer significantly also offers a list of 'Religious Dances', for example:

    • Astronomical dances - invented by the Egyptians, designed (like our orreries [an orrery is a clockwork model of the Solar System]) to represent the movements of the heavenly bodies.
    • The Bacchic dances - of three sorts - grave (like our minuet), gay (like our gavotte), and mixed (like our minuet and gavotte combined).
    • The Dance Champetre - invented by Pan, quick and lively. The dancers (in the open air) wore wreaths of oak and garlands of flowers.
    • Children's dances - in Lacedemonia, in honour of Diana, the children were nude, and their movements were grave and modest and graceful.
    • Corybantic dances - in honour of Bacchus, accompanied with timbrels, fifes, flutes, and a tumultuous noise produced by the clashing of swords and spears against brazen bucklers (small round shields).
    • Military dances - the oldest of all dances, executed with swords, javelins, and bucklers (small round shields). Said to be invented by Minerva (Roman goddess of wisdom, knowledge, crafts and war) to celebrate the victory of the Gods over the Titans. (Brewer refers to Minerva the Roman goddess and implies Roman mythology, when nowadays we refer more to the Titans and Gods war - the Titanomachy - being represented in Greek mythology - whether Roman or Greek, the reference is to the beginning of time, when the Titans were an earlier group of godlike characters, defeated and replaced by the Greek Gods of Olympus, i.e. Zeus, etc. It is in this context that Brewer asserts military dances being the oldest form of dance.)

    Note that Brewer asserted in 1870 that the oldest of all dances are military dances, and he basically positions this assertion with Roman mythology about the beginning of time. This is not a modern scientifically robust argument.

    Sayings and expressions including dance/dancing references:

    • 'Dancing on the head of a pin' - a criticism of someone's argument tactics on the basis that the tactics are concerned with tiny incidental or irrelevant matters and the main issue is not being addressed - (this is an abbreviation of a fuller expression originally used in theological or religious argument, 'You are arguing about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin/the point of a needle')
    • 'Bring on the dancing girls' - a reference to introducing thrilling elements or entertainments for an audience or gathering.
    • 'Dance the night away' - a reference to dancing enjoyably into the night and probably early morning too.
    • 'Dance and the whole world dances with you' - said frequently in praise or celebration or advocation of dancing as a beneficial socially connecting activity.
    • 'Takes the cake' and 'piece of cake', and takes 'the biscuit' - especially USA - alludes to competitive dances for enslaved/poor black people in which the prize was a cake (hence also cake-walk)
    • 'Lead (someone) a merry dance' - refers to someone being caused great nuisance or wasted time by another person or organization, in providing obstacles or complexity in the way of a particular task or aim
    • '(It was a proper/right) song and dance' - alluding to an unnecessarily convoluted or complex process or experience in resolving a problem or achieving an aim.
    • 'Make a song and dance (of/about something)' - (this differs from the above 'it was a song and dance') - this alludes to someone creating or introducing or using unnecessary fuss or complexity or resistance in planning or doing a relatively simple task.
    • 'Dance attendance on (someone)' - act in a servile inferior way towards someone.
    • 'Have a ball' - have a grand and enjoyable time - alluding to holding or attending a ball dance.
    • 'Out of step' - failing to maintain cooperation or synchronization or harmony in a partnering or joint project or relationship.
    • 'All-singing, all-dancing' - reference to a piece of equipment or specification which contains virtually every imaginable functionality or gadgetry, including many functions that are not required.

    Quotes about dance and dancing..

    There are thousands of sayings and quotes about dance and dancing.

    Many appear in books and songs and poetry and other literary works.

    Many others are part of our social history and have no known origins - they just exist, and are used, because dance and dancing is so fundamental to life.

    Here are a few of the most popular sayings and expressions about dance and dancing, and some other rarer quotes.

    Quotations are helpful for people studying dance, especially from a sociological and literary or dramatic standpoint, and also they help us appreciate the countless dimensions of dance and dancing, and how dance can mean so many different things to different people, depending on culture, mood, season, and the purpose of dance, etc.

    "Dance and the whole world dances with you.." (Anonymous)

    "Let's face the music and dance.." (Irving Berlin)

    "We get it on most every night.. when that moon is big and bright. It&rsquos a supernatural delight, everybody&rsquos dancing in the moonlight. Dancing in the moonlight, everybody&rsquos feeling warm and bright. It&rsquos such a fine and natural sight, everybody&rsquos dancing in the moonlight.." (Sherman Kelly)

    "Dancing in the moonlight, it's caught me in it's spotlight, it's alright, it's alright.." (Phil Lynott)

    "I danced in the morning when the world was begun, and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun, and I came down from heaven and I danced in the earth - at Bethlehem I had my birth. Dance then wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance said he, And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be, and I'll lead you all in the dance, said he.." (Sydney Carter, 1967)

    "They that dance must pay the fiddler.." (Anon.)

    "He dances well to whom fortune pipes.." (Anon.)

    "If I could get another chance.. Another walk, another dance with him. I'd play a song that would never, ever end. How I'd love my mother to dance with my father again.." (Luther Vandross & Richard Marx)

    "Just wanna dance the night away, with senoritas who can sway. Right now tomorrow&rsquos lookin&rsquo bright, just like the sunny mornin&rsquo light.." (Raul Malo)

    Busy, busy and ever busy, I dance up and down till I am dizzy.." (John Skelton)

    "Dance, dance, dance, little lady! Leave tomorrow behind.." (Noel Coward)

    "Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen.." (William Shakespeare)

    "It is sweet to dance to violins when love and life are fair, to dance to flutes, to dance to lutes is delicate and rare, but it is not sweet with nimble feet to dance upon the air.." (Oscar Wilde)

    "Spring the sweet spring, is the year's pleasant king, then blooms each thing, maids dance in a ring.." (Thomas Nashe)

    "Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight, and dance by the night of the moon. " (Anon.)

    "Dance with me, I want to be your partner, can't you see? The music is just starting, night is falling, and I am calling, dance with me.." (John Hall/Johanna Hall)

    "Dance me to your beauty With a burning violin. Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in. Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove. Dance me to the end of love. Dance me to the end of love. Let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone. Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon. Show me slowly what I only know the limits of. Dance me to the end of love. Dance me to the end of love. Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on. Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long. We're both of us beneath our love we're both of us above. Dance me to the end of love. Dance me to the end of love. Dance me to the children who are asking to be born. Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn. Raise a tent of shelter now though every thread is torn. Dance me to the end of love. Dance me to the end of love." (from Dance Me to the End of Love, 1984, by Leonard Cohen, 1934-2016 - Cohen reportedly said the song 'Dance Me to the End of Love' was initially inspired by the Holocaust, and the death camps and crematoria, and the story of a Jewish string quartet forced to play while the horrors happened. It became a love song. Dance is the central theme for this profoundly moving work, in ways that few other concepts could be. Please note that such a large extract is substantially beyond normal definitions of a 'quote', and you should seek permission from the author's publisher for any reproduction application that is outside of 'fair use' for educational/study/research purposes. Incidentally Cohen wrote lots of verses for this song, such is the evocative nature of the dance theme. Most of his verses were not used for his recordings and performances of the song, nor in versions by other artists.)

    "We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows.." (Robert Frost)

    "All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence, in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can sing and dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song - but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.." (Pablo Neruda, on receiving his Nobel Prize, 1971)

    "His feelings were made visible in medicine bundles and dance rhythms for rain, and all of his religious rites and land attitudes savored the inseparable world of nature and God, the master of life.." (Stewart Lee udall, about the native American peoples, 1963)

    ". The delirium of flesh, the lovely dance that ends in nakedness.." (George Seferis/Sefiriades)

    "A dance to the music of time.." (Anthony Powell)

    "Praise him with the timbrel and dance.. " (Holy Bible, Psalms 150:3-6)

    "On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined.." (Lord Byron)

    "True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those move easiest who have learned to dance.." (Alexander Pope)

    "Oh I should worry and fret, death and I will coquette, there's dance in the old dame yet.."(Donald Marquis)

    "Dance mehitabel dance, caper and shake a leg.." (Donald Marquis)

    "Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance. " (Lewis Carroll/Charles Luttwidge Dodgson)

    "Then turn not to pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.." (Lewis Carroll/Charles Luttwidge Dodgson)

    "Advance twice, set to partners, change lobsters and dance.." (Lewis Carroll/Charles Luttwidge Dodgson)

    "O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, how can we know the dancer from the dance. " (William Butler Yeats)

    "When I play on my fiddle in Dooney, folk dance like a wave on the sea.." (William Butler Yeats)

    "Oh you New York girls, can't you dance the polka. " (Anon.)

    "The one red leaf, the last of its clan, that dances as often as dance it can.." (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

    "For I dance and drink and sing, till some blind hand shall brush my wing.." (William Blake)

    This is a tiny collection of dance quotes. There are hundreds more, so please suggest others if you wish.

    1. Main Index
    2. Introduction to dance and dancing
    3. About this article and how to use it
    4. Origins of dance - dancing in human history
    5. Definitions of dance - word origins, language
    6. Benefits of dance - physical, mental, workplace, society
    7. Who can dance. Everyone can dance..
    8. How to learn to dance and how to teach dance
    9. Glossary of dance styles and different forms of dancing - summary of the major dance types
    10. Choreography - dance choreography and dance notation
    11. Glossary of interesting and significant dance-related terms and people
    12. Acknowledgements
    13. Dance information sources - references, dance associations, teaching bodies, etc.

    Renaissance Wedding Dress, Peasant, Flanders, 1500s

    This post describes a Renaissance wedding dress during the 1500s in Flanders. The clothing descriptions are taken from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting, The Wedding Feast. The wedding dress depicted in the painted was for a peasant. Bruegel’s other painting, The Wedding Dance, shows another version of a similar, though much simpler wedding dress.

    1. Hair worn loose and long with a red circlet.
    2. Long, white shift, worn next to the skin.
    3. No jewelry.
    4. Teal (green-blue) bodice with a v-neckline. Also, there is likely a skirt worn over the undergarment.
    5. Ankle-length, dark green, gown worn over under tunic. It has a high-waist and a square neckline. The bottom of the neckline is embellished with red.
    6. Dark shoes and stockings.

    Example of a Renaissance Wedding Dress for a Peasant, Flanders, 1500s

    Colors of Renaissance Wedding Dresses
    For modern brides, looking for Renaissance styles, here is a chance to express individuality. The Renaissance wedding dress was probably not white. Although some brides wore white during the Renaissance period, white wedding dresses did not become fashionable until after Queen Victoria wore a white dress to her wedding in 1840. (1)

    During the Renaissance, women wore their best dress as their wedding dress, whatever the color. If they were wealthy, then they wore the latest styles. So colors of wedding dresses included green, black, red, and blue. Blue was a color associated with chastity. (2)

    Hair Styles and Headwear for the Renaissance Bride
    The bride’s hair is loose and long and she is wearing a red circlet. All the other women wear their hair covered with a white cloth. As noted in the book, Costume and Fashion in Colour, 1550 – 1760, “Once married or past a ‘certain age’ decency had long required women to cover all their hair. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries they began to show a little of it, but all decent women still covered their heads.” (3) However, it is interesting to note, that even the young children in Bruegel’s the painting wear coverings over their hair.

    There are three layers to the Wedding costume: 1) undergarment, 2) bodice and skirt, and 3) gown.

    Undergarment for Renaissance Wedding Dress
    A white, linen shift is worn next to the skin. This bottom layer can be seen in the neckline and is likely full-length coming close to the bottom of the dress.

    Bodice and Skirt of the Renaissance Wedding Dress
    The bodice can barely be seen at the neckline. It is teal (green-blue) in color and worn over the shift. It has a v-neckline. Probably there is also a skirt worn with this bodice, but it cannot be seen under the gown.

    The Renaissance Wedding Gown
    A dark green gown is worn over the bodice and skirt. It has a high, fitted waist and a square neckline. From the high-waist there is a gathered skirt falling to ankle-level. The length of the bride’s dress is not visible in the painting. However, the other dresses seen in the picture are ankle length.

    The bottom of the neckline is embellished with red. Perhaps it is a red ribbon or embroidered cloth? The dress has long sleeves, more fitted at the shoulder and flared at the wrist.

    Note that for the time period (late-1500s), the peasant wedding dress in Bruegel’s painting is very simple. In the late 1500s, “The fashionable silhouette was hard and stiff, with heavily ornamented clothes that did not follow the shape of the body.” (4) Nevertheless, the peasant wedding costume does follow some of the fashions of the more wealthy, like the gown fitted at the bodice showing the shift and bodice beneath a square neckline. (5)

    Stockings and Shoes for the Renaissance Bride
    The shoes and stockings of the bride are also not visible. Other women wore dark, flexible shoes of cloth or leather and dark stockings.

    On the left, is a close-up of the bride in Bruegel’s The Wedding Dance (6). On the right, is the bride in The Wedding Dinner (7).

    Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a talented painter of the Northern Renaissance. His paintings feature peasants and middle-class people during the late 1500s in Flanders. Flanders was a region in Northern Europe that included parts of what is today north France and Belgium and south Netherlands.(8x)

    Location of Flanders in 1500s. (9)

    Peasant Wedding Gets Out Of Hand

    OOTGROOT, FLANDERS—A peasant wedding in the Flemish town of Ootgroot degenerated into a drunken melee Friday, leaving several dead and the town's butter churn overturned.

    The wedding, described by observers as "coarse" and "picaresque," was quelled by the dawn of the Sabbath, but not before several in the wedding party perished and swine ran amok in the cornfield.

    "Not since the Inquisition have I witnessed such unbridled carnage," said Boort der Dyck, local magistrate and owner of a fine yearling ass.

    The wedding of Margrethe, daughter of Jan the Beekeeper, and Pieter, an apprentice harness-maker, happened to fall on the Feast of St. Anthony, patron saint of swineherds and bell-ringers. It is believed that this may have intensified the drunken revelry amongst guests. A great sheep's-bladder of cider was brought up from Antwerp for the occasion, and pipers were engaged to make merry music.

    According to reports, vows were scarcely finished when the peasants began to fight over the cauldron of swill that served as the wedding repast. The abundance of cider and the pipers' ever-present melodies soon drove the peasants into a frenzy of mad whirling, gluttony and prankish behavior.

    "Mies the Swineherd ripped his codpiece dancing about," said Grete, wife of Franck the Butcher. "And Joost the Dullard tied a bell to Puss' tail and dropped her in the well."

    Delirious from the increasing mayhem, wedding patrons urinated out the windows of their thatched hovels, smashed earthenware jugs and whacked blind beggars with gourds.

    The already-explosive situation soon deteriorated when a brawl broke out between members of the bride's and groom's families over the ownership of a pheasant.

    "Pieter's clan argued that it now belonged to them because it was part of Margrethe's dowry, which Margrethe's family denied," Grete said. "Soon both parties were drubbing each other with their great meaty fists, which they scarcely felt because they were so full of the cider."

    So disturbed was Erasmus van Ghent, burgomaster of Ootgroot, that he called upon a local garrison of Spanish mercenaries to put down the chaos. Witnesses report that the Spaniards took to their work with relish, impaling many with pikes, severing codpieces and setting huts ablaze. Within minutes of the Spaniards' arrival, the peasants scattered to parts unknown, and a relieved van Ghent rewarded the garrison with guilders and sacks of saltpeter.

    "Plague take these sinners, and their ungodly ways," van Ghent said. "Such coarse, loutish behavior on the part of the lower classes is not to be tolerated."

    A Rare Restaging of a Russian Peasant Wedding by the Purchase Dance Corps

    The latest crop of fine Purchase College dancers under the direction of Carol K. Walker, who have gone on to fill American companies for many years, showed their stuff on Friday night in a thought-provoking program at the college's PepsiCo Theater.

    The centerpiece was "Les Noces" in Bronislava Nijinska's rarely performed 1923 staging, rendered here by Howard Sayette, of the Stravinsky score.

    The young members of the Purchase Dance Corps, said to be the only student ensemble to perform the piece, did not quite suggest the raw fear that lies beneath this look at a stark Russian peasant wedding and its preparations. But the stylized patterns came through clearly and powerfully, as did the sense of the force of fate through which this young girl will soon become a woman, with pain and possible joy.

    One child in the audience thought that the dark fantasy creatures in "The Great Quiet," a new ballet by Lauri Stallings to music by Arvo Pärt, were animals or dead people. They could also have been under-the-bridge dwellers in some European city just after World War II. Ms. Stallings conjured many narratives in this imagistic, tumultuous group ballet, a continuous ebb and flow of dancers whom she dressed in exotic rags. But she has the great gift of persuading the viewer that she knows who her people are and where she is taking them. And that was enough.

    Gerald Arpino took a teasing glance at the battle of the sexes in his 1971 "Valentine," restaged here by Christian Holder, who danced the original with Rebecca Wright, to whom the revival was dedicated. (She died of cancer in January.) The humor wears thin eventually, but Heather Daane and Jaime Rodney were very good as the pretty, feisty girl and the handsome long-suffering guy, with Alvin Brehm repeating his original role as the antic contrabass soloist who accompanies them onstage in Jacob Druckman's score.

    And the dancers got to give it their all, which was considerable and stylish, in Mark Morris's sumptuous "Gloria," by Megan Williams, Joe Bowie and Tina Fehlandt.

    Watch the video: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peasant Wedding (August 2022).