It. /berdd'gah mahs"kah/, n., pl. bergamasche /-ke/.1. a fast dance similar to the tarantella.2. the music for this dance.[1580-90; < It, n. use of fem. of Bergamasco of Bergama]
* * *▪ dancealso spelled bergomasklusty 16th-century dance depicting the reputedly awkward manners of the inhabitants of Bergamo, in northern Italy, where the dance supposedly originated. It was performed as a circle courtship dance for couples: men circled forward and women backward until the melody changed; partners then embraced, turned a few steps, and began again. The rustics in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream perform a bergomask.The bergamasca never became a court dance, although it gained some popularity as an instrumental composition built on a ground bass. Claude Debussy's Suite bergamasque (1890) and Gabriel Fauré's Masques et bergamasques (1919) did not use the bergamasca as a specific musical form; both works were inspired by Verlaine's poem “Clair de lune,” in which the name of the bygone dance bergamasque evokes a dreamy image.
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