"Royal Court Festival" held in Prague over the weekend

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On Sunday Prague's ancient Vysehrad district was the venue for a unique festival. The Royal Court Festival featured ancient dances, as well as other royal passions, such as tournaments and many varieties of medieval fighting. The event attracted a large crowd, mostly of children, who were looking up in awe at jousting knights.

There were several dance ensembles performing in period costumes, and after one performance was over, I spoke to two dancers, Petr and Blanka, who told me they were from the Regii Caroli Regis historical dance ensemble, which was the main organizer of the whole Royal Court festival. Blanka explained that the music we were listening to was both folk and court music from the Medieval times. And Petr told me more about the Regii Caroli Regis dance ensemble:

"Our ensemble came to existence to mark the 650th anniversary of the founding of Prague's New Town and Charles University in 1348, that means we have been around for some three years now. We devote most of our activities to Gothic dance, but lately we have also been rehearsing dances from later periods, especially the Renaissance. As the main organizers of the Royal Court Festival in Prague, we always dance here, but we perform at many other events all the year round as well."

Petr went on to say that they like most performing at castles and chateaux, because they always provide the right atmosphere for such ventures.

Some of the dances were very lively, and I asked Blanka to explain how was it choreographed when so little is known from those far away times:

"With Renaissance choreography it's quite easy, because there are dance books written by the dance masters of the time. All the steps are properly described, and they can be slightly changed if need be for each particular performance. With Gothic dances it's a bit difficult, as no dance books exist. That means we must listen carefully to the music that has been preserved and make our dance match the tune properly. Period pictures are also of great help, as some of them show medieval dancers in action - their postures as well as, for instance, the position of their arms", Blanka explained to me.

There was certainly much to be seen at the Royal Court Festival, which included a medieval market place offering among other things replicas of old armour and weapons, and of course, the most popular ancient Czech beverage - honey brandy. It was a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon.