Thoinot Arbeau

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Thoinot Arbeau is the anagrammatic pen name of French cleric Jehan Tabourot (March 17, 1519 - July 23, 1595). Tabourot is most famous for his Orchésographie, a study of late sixteenth-century French Renaissance social dance. He was born in Dijon and died in Langres.


Orchésographie provides information on social ballroom behaviour and on the interaction of musicians and dancers. It is available online in facsimile and in plain text. There is an English translation by Mary Stewart Evans, edited by Julia Sutton, in print with Dover Publications. It contains numerous woodcuts of dancers and musicians and includes many dance tabulations in which extensive instructions for the steps are lined up next to the musical notes, a significant innovation in dance notation at that time.

Arbeau's "Orchésographie" was used as the basis for Igor Stravinsky's final ballet, Agon, and Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite.

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