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Toni Lozica




Location: Rotterdam, NL / Korcula, HR
Joined: 13 Dec 2006

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Fri 22 Jun, 2007 2:40 am    Post subject: Moreska sword dance from Croatia/Dalmatia         Reply with quote

I was thinking for along time to post this question but was sort of afraid nobody would be interested. Then again I thought: what to hack, I'll just do it.
It is about Moreska (or Moresca) a medieval/renaissance sword dance.
There are many books and articles written about it but mostly from folkloristic/ethnologic dancing point of view. To my knowledge there has never been any analysis done on the fencing movements in it from swords fighter's point of view.

This dance is mentioned for the first time somewhere in 12th century Spain. More accurately in Lerida and was performed as a part of celebration of the victory on Moors. After that it spread all over Mediterranean and the rest of Europe in different variations. However the only version that has been preserved till present days is the one from the town of Korcula in Dalmatia, Croatia.
It is being performed at least 100 times per year mostly for tourists. Most of local men take part in it basically as long as they can jump and generally move. This version is mentioned for the first time in the beginning of 17th century.

When I look at the fighting technique used in this dance it makes me think of rapier with dagger. On the other hand being of much earlier origin there could be some more medieval elements in it. It is actually more slashing and cutting then thrusting.
I would be very interested if some of the experts on renaissance sword fighting, reading this forum, could have a look and give some comments on the moves.

Pls check out this link to see the movie that has been made somewhere in the Fifties. Quality is not so good but I believe it could do.
http://www.ikorcula.net/index.php?option=com_...w&id=3

I'm looking forward to your comments.

Parce mihi Domine quia Dalmata sum!
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Likes: 7 pages

Posts: 2,229

PostPosted: Fri 22 Jun, 2007 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am also interested in that. I think Korculans use sabers, don't they? If they do it's logical that the moves are mostly cutting and slashing moves... I saw it only on TV although I was there five years ago...
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Toni Lozica




Location: Rotterdam, NL / Korcula, HR
Joined: 13 Dec 2006

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Fri 22 Jun, 2007 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well basically in the old times they used what they had at hand. That was mostly schiavonas. In later times I suppose due to schiavonas getting out of use they changed basket hilt with metal plate that gave the actual look of some kind of short cutlass.
Btw let me say that the first part of the film is not so interesting. Just some dancing around. After some minutes real swordplay starts. Don't get discouraged when you start looking.

Parce mihi Domine quia Dalmata sum!
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Bruno Giordan





Joined: 28 Sep 2005

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PostPosted: Sat 23 Jun, 2007 12:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The danza moresca is probably analogue to the british Morris Dance and it symbolizes the conflict between christians and moors, i.e. the moslem powers of the middle east and southern mediteranean shore.

There seems to be a fair level of documentation in italian but I think it is only related to technical dancing aspects or to historical and sociological issues, as it ever hapepns.

I have a friend in Venice who is also a member of this forum who could perhaps say more.
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Toni Lozica




Location: Rotterdam, NL / Korcula, HR
Joined: 13 Dec 2006

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Sat 23 Jun, 2007 1:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bruno Giordan wrote:
The danza moresca is probably analogue to the british Morris Dance and it symbolizes the conflict between christians and moors, i.e. the moslem powers of the middle east and southern mediteranean shore.

There seems to be a fair level of documentation in italian but I think it is only related to technical dancing aspects or to historical and sociological issues, as it ever hapepns.

I have a friend in Venice who is also a member of this forum who could perhaps say more.


Thanks Bruno. What I am mostly interested to find out is this fighting element. Morris dance is related to Moreska but not so closely. Maybe only in name. It is also another type of sword dance. A Chain type of sword dance. This according to classification of sword dances by Dr. Ivan Ivancan of Zagreb who did a lot of research on this. He divided sword dances in three types.
Chain dances ( like Morris, like some dances from north of Spain and from island of Korcula as well and many others);
Acrobatic dances (like some dances from Georgia or Kosovo);
Moreska type of dances.

Chain dances are consisting of various figures made by dancers holding tips of each others sword and forming "chain".
Sword fighting is not the most important element of those dances. Also are very often swords replaced by wooden rings or scarves or something similar.

Acrobatic dances are caracterised by very strong acrobatic element like very high jumping.

Moreska type are dances consisting mostly of sword fighting with short dramatic introduction.

Venetian Moresca belongs to the latter type. I know a little about it except that it has been performed only with one sword and with sort of dance leader (capo di danza of some sort) who was issuing loud commands to dancers. It was also performed between two groups two Venetian quarters, called Castellani e Nicolotti. Basically it was performed as a part of carnival, on Giovedi Grasso. Costumes were much different then Korculan Moreska. They were wearing common civilian clothes of the era - knee long trousers with stockings, wide sleeved shirt and sleeveless short jacket. Unfortunately there is not so much known about it except for map of drawings and description. I don't know whether someone has ever tried to reconstruct this Moresca but even if they did they did not succeed as Venetian carnival comity is still inviting us to perform on Giovedi Grasso from time to time.

What I am very eager to find out is on what fencing school are the moves based. Also for Venetian Moresca for that matter.

Parce mihi Domine quia Dalmata sum!
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