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Historical Performance Ensemble

Discipline: Dance, Interdisciplinary, Music
Homebase: Vancouver
Languages: English

Historical Performance Ensemble offers The Compleat Courtier: "edutainment" of the highest order. Enthusiastic experts in historical dance, music, commedia and garments offer an engaging and uplifting hands-on experience of a courtier's life. Directly relates to, and enriches, many school curricula (history, social behaviour, home economics, the arts, etc). Available for either the Renaissance or the Baroque in a format suiting your needs, from a single workshop to a residency and/or community soirée. Historical Performance Ensemble has offered these programs since 1989, serving some 175 schools and community groups with the many variations possible.


My music studio was represented by ages 11 to adult. Even the 14 and 15 year-old boys willingly participated in all parts. All said they learned something useful, enjoyed the afternoon and evening, and felt it was a very worthwhile experience. In the 300 pictures I took, expressions showed they were absorbed in each activity - workshops and soirée - and having fun. Trudy Morse, 88 Keys Music Studio
I would like to recommend Historical Performance Ensemble to everyone. Our 500 Grade 8-12 students were delighted to attend their dance performance and 350 students participated in 16 rotating workshops afterwards. Each of the performers is wonderfully skilled and enthusiastic in teaching and communicating with young people. Ellen Stewart, French Teacher
All presenters were truly fantastic: knowledgeable, interesting and talented. They engaged my students from beginning to end, and left lasting memories of their experiences with Renaissance culture and lifestyle. The narration, acting and musicianship were truly remarkable. The workshop held an excellent balance of teaching, performance and student activities - very 'hands on'. Students actually wore the hats, masks and costumes! They also enjoyed learning the dance steps and acting in skits. Nancy Campos, Teacher

Project Examples

The Compleat Courtier Soirée

The Soirée (evening party) involves participation and performances from the Renaissance or Baroque Eras in Europe & Canada. Our goal is to delight the senses, provide light exercise and pique curiosity for the past through attention to historical accuracy. Company members, in dazzling period garments, demonstrate dances reconstructed from 400-year-old notations and music played on richly resonant instruments. Group dances and songs are easy to learn, fun to practice while company members circulate giving individual assistance. No previous training is required. This hybrid format of seeing/hearing/doing appeals to all ages.

The Compleat Courtier Basic Workshop

Company experts teach the students simple dances, sung rounds, commedia character action and etiquette and offer the chance to observe a few students dress in garments from the period. Workshop leaders sprinkle amusing and surprising historical and social information about the period throughout their instruction. Company members, dressed in accurate reproductions of period garments, perform a more complex choreographed dance from the period and a musical selection played on accurately reconstructed period instruments. Time is allotted at the end for questions and picture taking by the faculty and students.

The Compleat Courtier Extended Workshops/Residency

A more intensive participatory event for grades 6 to 12, the extended workshops are an absorbing introduction to accurate 17th century dance, commedia dell'arte, music, civility, respect and garments. We aim to instil curiosity for and appreciation of, the arts and culture of both the past and present day, and to assist in reducing bullying by experiencing the best parts of ancient civility. Students study each form for 55 minutes. Classes may run simultaneously and/or be spread over a series of days. In the garment workshop, 20+ students may dress in an outfit. Multiples of 4 sessions (Min 4, Max 16 sessions). Intended to be experienced with a Soirée, but can stand alone.

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