AD - Re: Please help us decide what to teach at KDMW

Russell Kinder russmax at
Mon Apr 9 00:49:16 PDT 2001

on 4/8/2001 9:28 PM, Alicia Whitecotton at hemophelia at wrote:

> Yes, galliards are great. . .I think one of the challenges in teaching a
> galliard class, is that it seems to be necessary to spend a huge amount of
> time just galliarding around. . .to get the timing and feel comfortable with
> it. . .and then what do you do with it?  Definitely you should teach a
> galliard class, Guillame, maybe you could do it in two sections. . .one for
> people to learn how to galliard, and then a second section to show people
> what to do with the galliards. . .anyway I foresee that taking a big two
> hour chunk of time for a galliarde class.
> Helene

   You have inadvertently hit upon the crux of the matter regarding
galliards in the SCA. The SCA dancer learns the galliard, and then says,
"What do I do with it?"

   There are several Italian choreographies with galliards in them, but for
the most part, what one does when a galliard is played is "galliard around."
After all, in ballroom dance, what does one do when a waltz is played? One
simply grabs a partner and waltzes around. Galliards are like that.

   When one becomes bored with that, or wants to show off a little, then one
begins adding galliard variations to their galliard dancing. Then there are
galliard solos, which in modern dance parlance, would be called "shines."
One is expected to improvise their own choreographies while dancing.

   The question of leading and following during galliards has often vexed
me. How, with a simple, relaxed left-in-right handhold can one signal to
one's partner what they want to do next? It occurs to me that Renaissance
music wasn't very loud. The obvious answer is probably correct: One simply
tells one's partner what do next.

   The final difficulty with galliards is physical conditioning. One purpose
of the galliard in the Renaissance was to show off how physically fit the
dancers were. If you've never done the galliard, then you don't know how
challenging it is to simply galliard for the duration of a 2 or 3 minute
tune. Of all the SCA and modern dance I do, including salsa and ballroom, it
is the most aerobic dance I know.

   Anyway, in an hour, I think I can teach the basic galliard, and a few
variations. Then dancers simply have to practice. They don't need me for

   Since I'll be teaching galliards & La Volta, a basic structure comes into
play: do 4 measures of simple galliards, improvise something for 4 measures,
do 4 measures of the Volta variation, then do 4 measures of turns. That's
not the only structure that can be used, but it's a good one.

HL Guillaume

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