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The Magdalena y le Tourdion (or Tordion) is a lively dance, similar in nature to the Galliard, and popular in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries in the Burgundian court. The dance was accompanied frequently by the basse danse, due to their contrasting tempi, and were danced alongside the Pavane and Galliard, and the Allemande and Courante, also in pairs.[1]

In a triple meter, the Tourdion's relation to the Galliard was described as being "more rapid and smooth than the other".[1] Pierre Attaingnant popularized the Tourdion in his publication of assembled dances in 1530, preserved now in "The Attaingnant Dance Prints". [2] Thoinot Arbeau later documented information about the Tourdion in his work Orch├ęsographie (Orchesography), published in 1589. [2]

Dance Elements

Nearly all variations on the dance are based upon the simple Cinq Pas (Five Step) Tourdion. The Cinq Pas begins in either a posture droit or posture gauche (the former with the right foot slightly in front, the latter with the left), with weight evenly distributed between the feet. Assuming a posture gauche, a pied en l'air droit and a petit saut follow in one beat, that is, a small kick of the right foot into the air at the same time as a slight hop as to land with the left foot. (It should be remembered that all pied en l'air are accompanied by the petit saut of the opposite foot).

The step is repeated as a pied en l'air gauche, with the left foot kicked into the air and a slight hop to land upon the right. The two steps are then repeated, with care that the kicks are small (as the dance is brisk). Following the four kicks, one performs a saut moyen- a small jump into the air that pulls the feet into the posture gauche or droit- whichever is the opposite of the first. This combination of the saunt moyen and the posture is typically called a cadence.

The process repeats, mirrored to reflect the new starting posture, until the song ends.[3][3]


  1. ^ Grove,George: A Dictionary of Music and Musicians: (A.D. 1450-1880), p154. Macmillan, 1889.
  2. ^ Thomas, Bernard: The Attaingnant Dance Prints, volume I, pages iii-iv. London Pro Musica Edition, 1972.
  3. ^ Arbeau, Thoinot: Orchesography. Dover Books, 1967.


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