Tailor's dance

In medieval Dubrovnik, the festivity of the state patron and intercessor, the parac—Saint Blaise—was inseparable from Carnival time. Therefore, along with the numerous elements of the Festivity of St. Blaise, there were those of a Carnival character, such as masks, dances, street theatre etc. As Marin Držić wrote in Dundo Maroje, this was a time "dedicated to play, dancing and joy". A special curiosity amongst the numerous Carnival events was the tailors' guild chain dance with bows, the so-called cerchiata, performed on Fat Thursday. The dance was usually performed by twelve or ten dancers aged 16 to 40. Masked as shepherds, they performed a choreographed pastoral dance. The choreography consisted of 24 changes or 48 figures, in which the dancers crossed their bows, passed under the arch they'd formed, gathered in the middle, where they would lift up a boy dressed as Cupid, with a pouch, a bow and arrows, onto their joined and raised bows. The dancers wore white (yellow) knee-length trousers bound by dark-blue ribbons, a blue shirt with a red belt and a black hat, while in their hands they carried bows decorated with leaves and flowers. The dance was accompanied by the winds of the Duke's chapel. They first danced in front of the Palace, then in the homes of distinguished citizens and, in the evening, under the lights of the torches in the Palace itself. The aquarelles from the albums of the Martecchini family, kept in the National Archives in Dubrovnik, present two scenes from a dance with bows, one of which is the one with the boy Cupid. The character of Cupid or shepherd appears in the 16th century as part of masked group dances, the so-called moreška ballets. One transcribed copy of Držić's Tirena from 1548 bears the following title: Tirena komedija spjevana u Dubrovniku prikazana pridvorom 1458. u kojoj ulazi brojni način od moreške i tanac na način pastijerski (“Tirena, a comedy written in Dubrovnik and presented before the Palace in 1458, containing numerous moreška dances and a pastoral dance”). This points to the intertwinement of the moreška and the cerchiata, and the appearance of Cupid in this pastorale or comedy refers to similar ballet performances in Dubrovnik and Italy. In Pesaro in 1475, the wedding ceremony of the mayor's son featured a lively masked dance in the form of the moreška, in which young men dressed as peasants imitated field work, and in the San Angelo castle in Rome, at Carnival 1521, a group of eight Sienese moreška dancers played monks who dragged the character of Cupid in chains and performed a staged battle. A dance with bows similar to the tailor's dance, where a boy is elevated, can still be seen today in Tarragona and Villafranca in Spain, where a similar figure is performed by the dancers arranging their bows in the centre in the shape of a dome and then the dancer in the middle lifts a child up over the bows, holding him up with his hands. One or several dancers on top of the wheel – the wheel in a wheel, such as Forza d' Ercole (a dance danced on Hvar and known in Italy as the sword dance) are characteristic of the Central European dance heritage, which might also have influenced the Croatian kola na kat (wheel dances with multiple tiers) or the čardak dance, and which was preserved up until the 20th century. Examples of this can be found in the Slavonian wheel dance Palo inje na zeleno smilje, the Turopolje Kolo na čardak dance or the Herzegovinian Kolo na kolu dance. The dance was performed by two opposite lines of dancers and its influence in these parts is older than that brought about by the expansion of the Germanic and French contra dance. With respect to dancing in two opposite lines, the dances known as tanci in Croatia, Istria and on the north-Dalmatian islands are probably remnants of some earlier traditions.