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Cesare Negri


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Born: c1535 - Milan, Italy
Died: after 1604 - Milan, Italy

If in his own time Cesare Negri was not the most famous dancing-master in Europe, he may assume that role in retrospect. We must trust his own words for much of the documentation of his life, but the first part of his massive 1602 dancing treatise contains an extremely detailed account of his life and career from 1565 until that date. Though most of his life was spent serving the Spanish/ Hapsburg overlords of Milan, he catalog scores of state events in both Spain and the various Italian courts at which he performed, or even directed the musical festivities. Some of his descriptions of the triumphal processions to which he contributed include the most detailed breakdowns of musical forces, both dancers and instrumentalists. For example, he choreographed a massive and spectacular set of “torch dances” on the occasion of the marriage between the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain, and the Archduke Albrecht of Austria on July 18, 1599. Negri’s treatise recounts the instrumentation, the dance steps, and the pageantry in great detail. Both the dances themselves, and the delightfully gaudy spectacle, resonate with what could be expected in the best contemporary courtly entertainments, including those produced by Claudio Monteverdi


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