[Anst-dancers] Minutes from A.G.E.D. Meeting...

Russell Kinder rkinder at austin.rr.com
Thu Jul 26 09:39:45 PDT 2001

> What sources are available for teaching styling (i.e. facial expressions,
> attitudes, etc.)?

Regarding styling:

   Of course, Playford doesn't discuss styling at all. There is very little
on styling from the Inns of Court either.

   My favorite source on styling is Negri, who was just this amazing fop
from Milan. You may read him differently, but I think I can sum it up by
saying be flamboyant and flirt like you mean it. And be the most confident
and competent dancer possible. (and ladies, be demure)

   Arbeau has lots to say on styling, but I think of him as an overly
conservative church-lady type of guy. He was an old man (69 to be exact),
shocked at the behavior of the "younger" generation. I come closer to using
him as negative documentation: If he admonishes his fictitious student,
Capriol, not to dance or behave in a certain way at balls, then we know that
people in period did that. It's surprising that Arbeau is the source for La
Volta, but he does admonish Capriol to "do some other dance".

   Almost all the Italian sources have some good tips on styling. Negri and
Caroso go on at great length about it. Domenico, Ebreo, et al, also have a
significant portion of their dance manuals devoted to it. There is way too
much to go into it here.

   Caroso is available as a translation by Julia Sutton from Dover (ISBN
0-486-28619-3). Ebreo is available as a translation by Barbara Sparti, from
Oxford University Press (ISBN 0-19-816574-9). Arbeau is available as a
translation by Mary Stewart Evans from Dover (ISBN 0-486-21745-0). Inns of
Court are available from Peter & Janelle Durham, trahearn at msn.com or
janelyn at msn.com. Playford is available online in many locations. Check the
SCA-Dance homepage. A. William Smith has a great text which includes all the
15th century Italian dance sources. It's rather expensive, though, at $130
for a 2 volume set. (That reminds me: Philip...  )  Negri is available from
UMI dissertation reprints. The translation of Negri was Dr. Yvonne Kendall's
PhD project. I'm told she's working on a revision.

> How do you personally teach styling?

   Generally, I teach styling by example, foremost, and by comments and
tips, secondly. I try to teach the steps first, and as the dancers get the
steps down, I work more on styling. After awhile, the styling becomes 2nd
nature to the dancers. It can be tricky, since proper styling is different
for the different periods and nationalities of dance. And of course, one's
own style comes into play, also. My personal opinion is that the best way to
have style is to be good at the dances and steps, and be confident.

   Universally, it all comes down to eye contact and attitude. Flirt. Men,
be manly, and women be properly feminine. Don't flail your arms, ever, and
try to keep your steps small.

--Guillaume de Troyes

> If we improve our styling, I think that our performances (whether intended
> as such or not) will be more entertaining to watch, thus making dance more
> like bardic and perhaps bring it to an equal standing.  What are your
> thoughts on this notion?

   I like the performing dance, and styling is naturally a big part of
that. Many, however, are uncomfortable with the idea of performing, and
prefer to keep their dance on an informal, social level. I love to perform,
but my fear is that performance might be scaring away many who would prefer
to dance only socially. They are afraid that they will have to perform if
they get involved with the dance group. On the other hand, the notion of
performance might draw in even more people who would like a bit of
limelight. Isn't all Middle-Eastern dance is rooted in the idea that you'll
be performing? Perhaps that's one way to attract these fine dancers to our
form of dance.
> My lord and I (and some Namron dancers) discussed the idea of making our
> performances for Namron's Protectorate more like microdramas/plays (which
> many of the Italians already are, but we hope to play it up).  At KWDS III,
> a Masque was performed which involved a storyteller setting up the plot (a
> ship of men were converted into animals and had to prove they were gentlemen
> by convincing a lady to dance with them, thus reversing the curse).   Is our
> idea similar to this concept?

   I can't add much to this, except that I recommend you study Caroso,
Negri, and Arbeau. They all have some to say on this topic. I think you
might get some good ideas.

Hope that helps,
Guillaume de Troyes

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