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From the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, the royal and aristocratic courts behind Europe’s most illustrious festivals printed elaborate, illustrated volumes to record the celebrations that they organized to mark births, deaths, betrothals, weddings, coronations, and visits. Often circulated for the benefit of rival noble families and in the interests of self promotion, festival books are fascinating witnesses to aristocratic culture and art during the Early Modern period.

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500 Years of Italian Dance: Treasures from the Cia Fornaroli Collection pays tribute to the multifaceted history of Italian dance and to one of The New York Public Library's richest collections. Assembled by Walter Toscanini (1898-1971), the Cia Fornaroli Collection documents the full sweep of Italian dance history from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century. It underscores his belief that Italy played a seminal role in the genesis and development of Western theatrical dance and exerted a profound influence on performance, choreographic, and pedagogical traditions throughout Europe and in the United States, on stages both elite and popular.

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