15th Century

Significant dances

  • The ballo first appeared circa 1453 as danced by Italian courtiers. The ballo’s multi-rhythmic music could include the following forms: bassadanza, quadernaria, saltarello, and piva. The variations supported pantomimic dances (movement phrases highlighting dramatic storytelling). As the name “ballo” implies, it was a precursor to “ballet.”

Historical context

  • The Medicis rule Florence, which becomes the center of Renaissance Humanism.
  • Joan of Arc leads the French army to important victories over the English in the Hundred Years’ War, which ends in 1453.
  • Henry Tudor rules as the first in the Tudor dynasty in England.
  • Ferdinand and Isabella rule Spain; the Spanish Inquisition occurs.
  • Christopher Columbus, born in Genoa, discovers the American continent; Spanish colonists impose on American Indians.


  • Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the mechanical printing press, prints the Bible; the Vatican founds their library.


  • John Dunstable develops counterpoint: the art of combining several melodies.
  • The first printed music appears.

Visual artists:

  • Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, and Albrecht Dürer produce early Renaissance and classical works.


  • Previously made from wood, metal printing plates are introduced to Europe.

Daily life:

  • In England, Edward IV passes an edict outlawing the “hustling of stones”—i.e., bowling—or other sports.

Relevant Dancetime Publications DVDs

DANCETIME DVD! 500 YEARS OF SOCIAL DANCE, Volume I: 15th-19th Centuries: Ballo

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