- Era: mid-1500s (?) to present
"The mimed branle called the Branle de la Poule has found particular favor among the students at the great universities. I have placed notes in the tablature to explain the gestures...." (my translation from the original French)
-- from a recently discovered dance fragment signed "T____ A____"
It's always a thrill to discover an entirely new piece of dance history, and since the 16th century is one of my favorites I was especially excited to find something new from that era to add to my dance repertoire. The handwritten source for this dance was found amidst a varied collection of books and papers in a musty church basement located near a major research university and rare book library. The language and phrasing of the source and the nearly illegible signature suggest that Branle de la Poule might actually be one of the miming branles (branles morguez) discussed in the pseudonymous Thoinot Arbeau's 1589 dance manual, Orchésographie (available in English translation as Orchesography), similar to the Branle des Lavandieres and Branle des Pois. Like those branles, it includes imitative gestures and movements in keeping with its title. The signature is mostly illegible, but the initials T and A are clear, suggesting that it might actually have been written by Arbeau himself. The source has not yet been dated, but the contents are sufficiently exciting that I am making them known somewhat prematurely as a service to the historical dance community.