Canary dance

The Canary dance (known as Canario in Italian sources, Canarie in French ones) was a Renaissance dance popular all over Europe in the late 16th and early 17th century. It is mentioned in dance manuals from France and Italy, and is mentioned in sources from Spain and England, as well,[1] including in plays by William Shakespeare.[2]

The dance, which is most often choreographed for a singe couple, has been characterized as "a fiery wooing dance" with either Spanish origins or at least a Spanish flavor from its "rapid heel-and-toe stamps" and distinctive music.[3] It was also called frogs legs, because it was an energetic dance that featured jumps, stamping of the feet and violent movement, accompanied by music with syncopated rhythms.[4]

While there are choreographies for the canario as a stand-alone dance in the dancing manuals of Fabritio Caroso, Cesare Negri, and Thoinot Arbeau,[5] it most frequently appears as a section of a larger dance or suite of dances.[6]

Canario Choreographies and Reconstructions

Reconstruction Video Clips


  1. Julia Sutton, "Canary," in International Encyclopedia of Dance, edited by Selma Jeanne Cohen (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), vol. 2, p. 50.
  2. Alan Brissenden, Shakespeare and the Dance (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1981), pp. 38-39, 53.
  3. Sutton, "Canary," vol. 2, p. 50.
  4. Stanford, E. Thomas (1980). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-23111-2.
  5. Thoinot Arbeau, Orchesography, transl. Mary S. Evans, ed. Julia Sutton (New York: Dover, 1967), pp. 179-181.
  6. Sutton, "Canary," vol. 2, pp. 50-52.


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