AD - Levels (oh my!)

Russell Kinder russmax at
Thu Apr 29 11:38:57 PDT 1999


   Here I address our biggest point of difference at this time. How does
the Guild determine when a dancer has attained a new level?

   A good number of folks think that the level system as described in
the charter draft at Crown is unworkable. Many think that the level
system as written in the charter is just fine, with perhaps a few minor
amendments. Here are the two positions:

The Charter, as it's written:
1) A candidate has a higher level guild member (sponsor) keep track of
his/her progress in attaining the next level. When the requirements have
been met, the candidate sends a letter to the Proctor, stating what
dances have been taught/danced/performed/reconstructed etc, and at what
events the candidate has been in charge of dance, or performed showpiece
dances. The sponsor signs the letter to verify that the claimed
requirements were met, and a local SCA officer (Seneschal or Minister of
A&S) also signs to make it official.

The other viewpoint:
2) When a candidate has met the requirements to advance to the next
level, he comes to a Kingdom Level event. The candidate then auditions
before the assembled members of the Dance Guild. The members critique
the candidate, offer corrective comments, and then judge whether the
candidate merits the next level.

   The folks who like the method outlined in the Charter seem greatly
opposed to the system of being judged before a panel of Guild members.
They feel it would be much friendlier to work with a sponsoring member
instead of a panel of judges they don't know very well. They also feel
it would be insulting and/or stressful to have to perform before judges,
when they've already done or taught the dances where it counts: at
events and local practices. They also feel that the judging system would
open up the system to political or personal agendas. Also, there would
be an inherent level of unfairness. Some candidates might audition
before 2 or 3 very friendly and well known judges. Others might have to
stand before a dozen of our Kingdom's most meticulous dance masters,
some of whom are strangers. Some would have a cake walk, others would
have to run a gauntlet.

  On the other hand, the folks who are greatly opposed to the method in
the Charter draft prefer the judging method. They feel that it would
assure the quality and reputation of the guild. If the guild says that
Deux Gauchepiede is a dance teacher of the highest level, then it should
be the whole guild that made that promotion. They also feel it would
allow the membership at large to have input on the training of up and
coming dance teachers. These folks think that as many people as possible
should be involved in the process. 

My own comments:

   There is one other thing that I can think of that no one has
mentioned: the Charter's system isn't as fair to people who don't have a
high ranking guild member in their local group. That might seem unfair
to individuals, but on the whole, it would force the guild to get out
and fulfill the purpose of the guild, which is spreading dance.
High-ranking guild members would need to travel to other groups and
encourage dancers there to teach. With the judging system, remote groups
might be left to completely unattended. The burden would be on the
candidate to come and be judged. With the proposed Charter system, the
burden is partly on high-level guild members to go to groups that don't
have dance and promote dancing and dancers. We could even put in a
requirement that the higher level members must always be sponsoring at
least one person outside their local group.

   Well, that seems to sum up the issue. I admit that I'm strongly
biased against the judging system in favor of the Charter draft. I've
tried to present both sides fairly, using the arguments that have been
stated so far, but you should know where I stand, so that any bias in my
statements can be taken into account.

   I want to know where folks stand on this issue. I would need very
persuasive arguments to change my mind on this. I would need to be shown
believable scenarios where bad things would happen to the guild or to
dance due to the level system in the Charter draft. I want to reach
consensus, but failing that, I want to know how the majority of you feel
about this.

Guillaume de Troyes
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