- For the Croatian sword-dance, see Moreška.
Moresca (Italian), morisca (Spanish), or moresque, mauresque (French), also known in French as the danse des bouffons, is a 15th/16th century pantomime dance in which the executants wore Moorish costumes. One such is the concluding music of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo. One of the best examples of the moresca can be seen in Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 production of Romeo and Juliet, which has a scene with moresca characters and lavish, florid portrayal of the dance in the Capulet home.
In the 15th century, the moresca is the most-often mentioned dance type in literature. On the rare occasions other dances (such as the basse danse, saltarello, or piva) are mentioned, the moresca is almost invariably described as well. In its early manifestation it appears in two forms: as a solo dance, and as a couple or group dance in which the dancers mime a sword combat between between Christians and Muslims (Sachs 1937, 333).
The moresca continues to be danced in Spain, Corsica, and Guatemala, and the name as well as certain characteristics of the choreography are related to the English morris dance (Sachs 1937, 336–37; Halfyard 2002).
The term moresca (Italian: moorish song) is also used for an unrelated carnivalesque form of villanella, a popular song form found in Italy c.1550–1600 (see moresche, which is the Italian plural of moresca). It receives its name from the texts, which parody the speech of Moors, defined as Muslims generally or more narrowly as inhabitants of the Barbary Coast (Brown and Cardamone 2001).
- Arnold, Denis, and Percy A. Scholes. 1983. New Oxford Companion to Music. p1201.
- Brown, Alan, and Donna G. Cardamone. 2001. "Moresca [morisca]". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- Halfyard, Janet. 2002. "Moresca (It., Sp.), moresque". The Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Alison Latham. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-866212-9.
- Sachs, Curt. 1937. World History of the Dance, translated by Bessie Schönberg. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.
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