Internet Shakespeare Editions


Oberon: high jinks at court

A dancer. Sketch by Inigo Jones.
From Inigo Jones and Ben Jonson (1853)
University of Victoria Library
Original in the Chatsworth Collection.

It was a great shock to the country when, two years after the performance of Oberon, Prince Henry died, leaving his younger brother Charles to inherit the throne. Henry had been a great patron of the arts, and was bent on pursuing a more militantly protestant foreign policy than his more cautious father.

Watched by the King, the courtiers, and the other performers, Oberon and the knights dance a coranto. The reconstruction here uses dance steps from Italian dance of the period, much admired in England.

Like fencing and horsemanship, dancing was considered to be an important accomplishment in the ideal courtier*: this "coranto" shows why it could be an excellent training in general fitness and coordination as well as a social grace.

Watch the dance...*


  1. Good for body and soul

    The influential Italian writer Baldassare Castiglione, among others, recommended the exercise of dancing in his popular book The Courtier: click to learn more.

  2. The coranto

    [Video clip available on CD ROM only.]

    [[ Resource not found ]]

    This is reconstructed masque dance, choreographed using steps mostly from contemporary Italian sources by the lead dancer, Ken Pierce. Dances of this kind would have given the young Henry a chance to show off his athletic as well as his musical prowess.