[Anst-dancers] Running Ball, Encouragement, and Success

Craig Shupee' philipwhite at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 18 13:58:53 PDT 2003

>I think that any event is a good time for people to start running balls. I 
>think if you are helping a new dance teacher, it best works if you know 
>them fairly well, and have danced with them before. It makes that person 
>feel more comfortable in a high-stress situation.

Certainly. To get to that comfort level with beginners, experienced dancers
should pro-actively develop relationships with dancers that may be
interested in leading and teaching.

And you're right. What matters is that any event is a good time to start
running balls, because running balls is a good thing.

>Also, events with a more dance-friendly attitude are much better for these 

>For a brand new teacher, I don't think the rather everything-but-dance 
>atmosphere of Ansteorra is the best place to break them in. Even the best 
>of us sometimes fail to get dance going at events (think of Miguel and 
>Connell's coronation - wasn't it just 4 people?, or recently Namron 
>Protectorate - we had about 6-8) It would have to be somebody that was very 
>ready, extremely enthusiastic, and prepared for a let down.

I understand your reasoning, but I disagree.

Imagine Pennsic (or Gulf, Lilies, KWDMS, KD) and having to organize
musicians from around the world who rarely have the opportunity to play
so that they can be prepared to play music for three to five hours.  You
must balance regional variations, requests, and favorites.  You must mix
difficulty and genre, experienced couples and newcomers.  And you must
juggle the characters and personalities of dancers and musicians.  All
together, you are trying to satisfy an average of one hundred people of
varying skills, desires, and experiences.

You wouldn’t have a person new to judging run a Steppes Artisan or a Kingdom
Eisteddfod.  You wouldn’t have a person new to chivalric fighting run
Steppes Warlord or Crown Tourney.  These are events equivalent to our major
dance opportunities.

Recently, at KWMDS, I watched some of the hassle that Perronnelle had to
cope with for running the ball Saturday night (thanks again, btw, for taking
care of that).  She had a lot to handle, such as conflicting musician
personalities and people insisting on their favorite dances.  Certainly,
dance would have happened – but without her experience and calm disposition
the ball would have been a disaster.  A person, new or even moderately
experienced, would have had much trouble coping with the situation.
Experienced dancers and live musicians only serve to complicate things.
Using a CD player allows them to work with something familiar, giving more
control.  Less-experienced dancers are often more attentive and willing to
follow a dance leader's instruction.

The problem is thinking that four dancers is not a success.  Or that six to
eight dancers is not a success.  Any dance at an event is a success, though,
there is always room for improvement.  And when encouraging new dancers, we
need to emphasize that fact.  Yes, we may want 30 dancers at every chance,
but we still need to look positively at what we get.

The atmosphere is not so much “everything-but-dance.”  Some A&S competitions
only have 5 entries.  Some bardic competitions have only 8 performers.  Some
equestrian activities have only 5 horses.  Just because people do not dance,
doesn’t mean that it is not supported.  We just need to continue making a
positive influence on dance.  We are the ones who need to make dance part
of everything in Ansteorra.

>Personally, I'd much rather run a ball where dance is guaranteed to happen, 
>you have musicians, and experienced dancers (Known World Dance, Kingdom 
>Dance, Gulf Wars, Pennsic). Who cares about more experienced dance leaders 
>observing you? If they want things done differently, they should volunteer 
>to run dance themselves. It's not like there is a shortage of capable folks 
>at these events.

Exactly.  These are the places I most love to run dance.  It’s a challenge.

But I also know it’s not easy.  And people who have not been in the SCA as
long as you have still get intimidated leading dance in front of more
experienced dance leaders.  *This peer-fear – remember – is not exclusive to
dancers or even to the SCA.*


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