AD - Guild Charter discussion at King's College

Al Cofrin avatar1 at
Mon Jun 21 12:21:57 PDT 1999

Russell wrote

>    Two members of the Middle Eastern dance community were present at the
> dance guild meeting and expressed some interest in having a combined guild.
> It was explained
> why we hadn't included them from the beginning: That we perceived our
> two art forms as different enough that none of the court dancers feel
> qualified to speak about Middle Eastern dance. The differences were not
> dwelt on, but, rather, a way that our dancers and theirs could work
> together toward a common cause in many cases. We found we have many
> things in common. We share musicians; our music is in many cases derived
> from the Middle East; we usually share the same time slot at
> events--after everything else is over. We discussed how it might be neat
> to introduce Middle Eastern group and line dances into our balls
> sometimes. And to have Middle Eastern performance in the breaks between
> sets, when appropriate, alternating with European performance. This lets
> us share musicians, not fight for the time slot, and promotes
> "multi-cultural" awareness.
>    The group had no big objections to working with the Middle Eastern
> dancers, but we felt our charter could not be made to include them
> without us starting over completely, and we were unwilling to do that.
> It seemed more appropriate to let the Middle Eastern dancers organize
> themselves into a Kingdom guild, and then institute bylaws that describe
> the alliance between our two groups. Both the European and Middle
> Eastern dancers felt that this was a fair arrangement.

Avatar's response:

I am very much against including Middle East dance as part of your guild.  The
Middle Eastern community has been poled already on many fronts by myself and by
several of the local teachers from the Southern and Northern regions and the
conclusion was that there is far too much of a difference in cultural aspects
to integrate the forms (also most thought that a charter involving middle
eastern dance was not only historically impossible but quite undesired by
middle eastern dancers).  I could see this as a possibility if the guild was
involved with Medieval European dance since there is quite a bit of evidence of
similarities but since the focus is Renaissance dance when Middle Eastern
culture was no longer prevalent in Europe during this era, I do not see how the
two could co-exist within the same charter format.

As to dance balls, I feel that the middle eastern community already have a
forum for performance and that is the Hafla which is one hell of a "%$#@*&"
party.  Rapier and Chivalric are both combat activities but they do not share
the same field.  I do not see why it is necessary for Western and Eastern dance
to be different.  Both should have their "fields" but not same field.

I strongly support both dance forms, I love playing in both formats, and
encourage dancers in both formats.

On the issue of Musicians.  Most melodic musicians for middle eastern dance
require a more advance level of improvisational skills and theory in order to
perform the proper styles where as European dance is just a straight read which
any monkey could do (complementary HL. Samuel Piper dig :) .  Reading is easier
than creating on the spot.  Western dancers have never stolen musicians from
middle eastern dancers.  The few musicians that  perform Eastern dance music
are not partial to one or the other.  Musicians on a whole are whores when it
comes to music and we will normally play at what ever forum asks us first.  If
the Western dancers plan ahead and organize musicians prior to an event, then
the western dancers get the musicians.  If Eastern dancers are not getting much
musician support it is usually for the following reasons:

1.) Not planning ahead
2.) Not willing to be weaned off the boom box.

Going back and forth between cultures during a ball is fine from a musician
point of view because playing is playing. However, from experience, I think
that there are far too many reasons why it would not be preferred.  Of the many
ways to kill the momentum of a western European ball, the easiest way is to
place a non Western European dance performance in the middle of it.  Though for
Middle Eastern culture M.E. dance is a very group involved experience, but for
the Western European mindset it would just be a performance (yes, there are
cultural mindset differences ...that is the beauty of it all).  The performance
is very interesting too watch but that is not why westerners go to a ball.
They go to dance.  It would be ideal if many western dancers also enjoyed ME
dance and joined in but that is not always the case. Pennsic and Estrella Wars
have learned this the hard way and I agree that this is a REALLY BAD IDEA.
You would get a lot of grumbling and impatient fighters if rapier and chivalric
had to share the same field.  No difference for dancers.

Al Cofrin
AKA Avatar of Catsprey

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