The Moving Line: The Dancing Line of Corsiva Romana

“….. If we had examples of the earliest calligraphy (as opposed to formal writing) we would see the evolution of human emotion.

Strictly speaking, informal cursive is the only valid written expression of the inner life of a culture.

….. Cursive calligraphy is full of movement and emotion. Calligraphy that runs along the page, in the full flow of writing, is filled with movement and life. Cursive writing breathes rhythmically, like a dancer. Cursive writing is a graphic dance.”

Hans-Joachim Burgert The calligraphy line Berlin, 1989

Chronologically the Roman Cursive is inserted between the I century B.C. and the IV century a.D. This style develops at the same time as the official writings of the State, Capitalis RusticaUncial and Quadrata.  Commonly it is considered the cursive form of the capital letter. While the Quadrata and Rustica are written carefully and meticulously written, the Roman Cursive seems to be written quickly, without care and is often difficult to read.

In reality, its apparent rhythmic disorder (Chaos) has an extraordinary musicality of the line that is expressed through the connections between the letters. It is, in my opinion, pure writing. Its protagonist is not a geometric form, but the line that dances, that moves in the space, until it creates a harmony of signs. The letters are not formed according to a rigid pre-ordered scheme but are modified according to the single movement.

This course aims to stop and consider this aspect of the line of writing that “dance” in the space, and its expressive potentialities in greater detail. We will explore the “horizontal moving” (Latin, Arabic calligraphy) and the “vertical moving” of the writing (Chinese).

We intend also to work on the more experimental aspects such as the use of writing tools (first of all the fine pointed brushes) and different techniques of development and research of the expressive.

Then the soft flowing movement of the calligraphy line will be compared and contrasted with the harder and more mechanical typographical printed letters, using metal and wood types in different size and style, which will be allowed to cohabit and live together in the same space to enhance each other. In fact, during the course, you will be able to give free rein to your creativity and print letters working for a day in the amazing Typographic Archive workshop based in Turin.

To combine the soft elements of the script and the harder elements of the typographer at the end of the course, all the work produced during will be put together and bound in an original design book.


Course Information:

The Moving Line:
The Dancing Line of Corsiva Romana

(Calligraphy course)

Massimo Polello

November 30th — December 3rd, 2017

Turin, Collegio San Giuseppe, via San Francesco da Paola 23

For further information on the costs and to sign up,
please contact Patricia Parpajola at

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