E is for Estampie

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I’m back with my Alphabet Post this week.  I hope you forgive me last week, but it was Release Day and I was a tad distracted. LOL

When I was researching and writing Betrothal, I ended up doing a good amount of research on dances of the Middle Ages.  There is a banquet and dance after the tournament and of course I had to know what the dances would have looked like.  The estampie is actually both a musical form as well as a dance.

Although there are no extant dance manuals to document the movements of the estampie, illuminations and paintings of the period depicting the dance include some very vigorous stamping of the feet.  The name, estampie from the French estamper, means “to stamp the feet.”

The estampie is mentioned in troubadour poetry of the 12th thru 14th century. From the descriptions, it was a dance for couples using a sliding motion of the feet to the accompaniment of the medieval viol.  It is believed to be a slow, stamping, round dance from Provencal, popular in Europe until 1500.  Some scholars argue as to whether or not the estampie was a dance form or merely a stylization.  Most, however, agree that it was complex although it relied on repetition, as did all dances of the time.

Here is a modern interpretation of the estampie.

The estampie was the first line dance, superseding circles such as the carole, the branle, and Sellinger’s Round.  It introduced a dance in which couples stood opposite one another, rather than in a circle.

Dances can be an important part of romance novels.  They add colorful details to ballroom scenes, provide the perfect way for a hero and heroine to be thrown together in relative privacy for speaking, and a social event that can provide conflict for your book.

My medieval novella, Betrayal, is now available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Betrayal_logoThere’s not any dancing in this book, but it plays an important role in both Betrothal, Book 1, and Beleaguered, Book 3 (due to release in Spring 2014).

Do you enjoy dance or ballroom sequences in romance novels?  How detailed should descriptions of dances get?

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9 Responses to E is for Estampie

  1. melissakeir says:

    I like to see dancing because there’s some passion involved. The light touches, the secret glances…I’m not good at dancing (Think Elaine from Sienfeld) but I do enjoy music.


    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      Thanks so much for coming by, Melissa. I bet you’re a better dancer than you give yourself credit for. That’s why we had men to lead us. If her partner was a good dancer, a lady didn’t need to be able to dance very well. She just had to follow his lead. 🙂


  2. Since I have two left feet where dancing is concerned, I find intricate descriptions of dances to be terribly confusing. I like to know the name of the dance, definitely, and the style of the dance (contra dance, formal dance, ballroom, etc.), but I generally rely on further research if I really want to know more. Having a You Tube video is a perfect thing for me to refer to (thanks for including one in your article).

    Wonderful research as usual, Jenna. I love your alphabet posts.


    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      YouTube was a life saver when i had to describe the dancing in Betrothal. I did tons of research in writings and descriptions of the dances, but nothing beats being able to see it to understand the movements. I like dancing–not that I’m great or anything–but I think it’s terribly romantic. Thanks so much for coming by today, Trish!


  3. Sue says:

    Looks like the book is doing very well!! That’s great 😀


  4. Harliqueen says:

    I have to admit, I absolutely love balls or dance sequences in books, I dunno why, I just do 😀


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