The allemande is a dance which originates from Germany and was developed during the Renaissance in the Baroque musical era. For an extended period, the dance was one of the most popular instrumental dance styles that were developed during the Baroque era, with several well-known classical composers having composed works for the dance. Couperin, Handel, Purcell, and Bach were just some of the composers who wrote pieces during their time for dancing the allemande. It is very often the first movement of a Baroque suite of dances, commonly being paired with a Courante that plays after the allemande, although some composers have preceded the allemande by either a prelude or introduction.
The original allemande eventually went out of fashion and practitioners began to follow other forms of dance. A different version of the allemande came much later during the eras of Mozart and Beethoven, with this later allemande surviving through to the current day in both Germany and Switzerland. The current version is a social dance performed in triple-time and is closely related in both form and function to the waltz and the landler, having been developed roughly around the same time.
The original allemande was developed during the 16th century as a duple metre dance performed to an accompanying piece of moderate tempo. Although it is believed to have been derived from a German dance which preceded it, there are no known records of the specific style that the allemande evolved from, and no German dance instructions have managed to survive to today. The first preserved records of the allemande come from the 16th-century French dancing master Thoinot Arbeau, who was a meticulous record keeper and kept notes of all the dances that he had performed himself and that he taught to students. Without his records, it is not believed that we would know as much about the historical origins of the dance as we do today. His records show that dancers started by forming a line of couples who took the hands of each other and walked the length of the room, walking for three steps before balancing on one foot. There were different versions of the allemande that were considered to be far more lively, involving springing for three steps and a hop, rather than just balancing.