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Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro (c. 1420 – c. 1484) was a Jewish Italian dancer and dancing master at some of the most influential courts in Renaissance Italy, including Naples, Urbino, Milan, and Ferrara. His byname Ebreo means simply ‘Hebrew.’ Not always used when referring to him, da Pesaro indicates that he was from the east-central town of Pesaro. Between October 1463 and May 1465, Guglielmo probably converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism and took the name Giovanni Ambrosio.
Around 1463, Guglielmo authored the treatise De pratica seu arte tripudii (On the Practice or Art of Dancing), sometimes cited as Trattato dell' arte del ballare (Treatise on the Art of Dancing). In it, Guglielmo defends dancing as a noble art, emphasizing the important role of music. He also describes qualities necessary for dancers, including posture, musicality, style, and memory, and provides first-hand accounts of massive court celebrations in which he played a role. The treatise contains choreographies and music for thirty-six dances by Guglielmo and his contemporaries.
Conversion to Roman Catholicism
His patron and friend Alessandro Sforza (Lord of Pesaro and brother of Francesco Sforza) convinced convert Guglielmo to Roman Catholicism. Alessandro Sforza was a very religious man, but perhaps also influenced Guglielmo ability to access the dignity of Knight (as happened, getting the Golden Spur, as his teacher Domenico da Piacenza). Between 1463 and 1465 he was baptized and took the name of Giovanni Ambrogio.
In honor of Alessandro Sforza's daughter, Ginevra, Guglielmo composed a bassadanza in due. In 1465 he moved to Milan, where he was in charge of the celebrations for the wedding of Eleonora d'Aragona with the Duke of Bari.
- Guglielmo Ebreo of Pesaro (1993/95). Edited, translated, and introduced by Barbara Sparti; poems translated by Michael Sullivan (eds.). De pratica seu arte tripudii = On the practice or art of dancing. Oxford [England]: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-816574-9. Check date values in:
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- Richard Gottheil, Joseph Jacobs (1901–1906). "GUGLIELMO, BENJAMIN(?)". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). GUGLIELMO, BENJAMIN(?). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.