[Anst-dancers] Resurrecting dance in Ansteorra

Russell Kinder russmax at sbcglobal.net
Wed Jun 11 23:30:05 PDT 2003


I like dance events, so don't misread my meaning. I wouldn't mind
seeing some sort of regional or "interkingdom" dance event from time to
time. Perhaps, though, having a kingdom dance event once a year is
sufficient for this purpose. We just invite folks from other kingdoms.

My feeling is that dance should be more integrated in the SCA culture.
I'm not sure I want more "special" dance events. Instead, I want to see
dance happen at almost all events in Ansteorra. Presently, I feel like
court dance is a small sub-culture of the SCA of almost no relevance to
those who are not members of that culture.

Not everything about being a sub-culture is bad. Who else is going to
research and dance these Negri and Caroso pieces?

I think, however, that we must strive to integrate dance back into
mainstream SCA culture. Yes, we have probably given a killing blow to
Hole in the Wall, Korobushka, and the like, and period dance is better
for it. At the same time, we have gravely wounded social dance among
the SCA populace. A lot of the people I used to count on as regulars no
longer dance, now that we don't do HitW. Likewise, Korobushka was many
Ansteorrans' favorite.

Now, with our new interest in all things Italian, and our obsession
with "period" dances, I suspect that the few dancers who are left are
afraid we're about to get rid of English Country Dance too, since it's
from 1651. Some dance masters in other kingdoms have, in fact, done
exactly that. It is not my intent to restore HitW and grossly
non-period dances to their former status. Nor do I want to remove ECD
from the repertoire (as if we could). I think ECD belongs in the SCA.

For the past few years, except in the Stargate area, dance in Ansteorra
is almost dead. There are a few practices, sparsely attended. Most
places, you don't have enough dancers to do a 4-couple dance at a given
practice. Dance is almost never scheduled at regular SCA events anymore
(remember, I said the Stargate area was the exception).

We have the opportunity to resurrect dance from the ashes. We need to
hold regular practices that are attractive to those who don't currently
dance. We need to teach dances that have many of the elements that make
HitW and Korobushka so much fun. This means rowdy dances with lots of
spinning. Graceful dances (but not too hard) with lots of flirting and

Is it possible that Ballo del Fiore could be all that HitW is? It's not
hard (not really). It has a short, often repeated pattern, so even if
you're a little shaky at first, you have it down by the end of the
dance. It's a great mixer. It's graceful, with lots of flirting and
interaction. On the downside, it's a little disorganized, and doesn't
make a pretty pattern. Perhaps that could be fixed.

As for rowdy dances with lots of spinning, there are plenty of ECDs and
15th c. Italian. That's not even hard. I have a better time doing Petit
Vriens or Epping Forest than Korobushka. One of my best dance memories
is doing Epping Forest out on the grass at 20th year.

I think I have a way to structure dance practices so that they are more
appealing to regular SCA folk, while still offering dance mavens the
opportunity to work on the harder stuff. Simply, schedule the 1st hour
of practice for working on advanced performance pieces and new
reconstructions, say from 7pm to 8pm.

Tell everyone else that practice starts at 8pm. Teach the easier stuff
from 8 to 9pm. Don't be afraid to spend plenty of time on each dance.
It's good to repeat dances from week to week, too. Spend a month
learning a few dances. People don't really have fun doing a dance until
they are confident that they know it well.

Then, from 9 to 10pm is social dancing. Repeat the dances just taught,
or from previous practices, take requests, let people visit a little.
Have fun.

Some are already using this structure. I've used it successfully in the
past. There are no guarantees, though. It has also failed me in the

I'd like others to add their thoughts to this discussion. There is
certainly a lot more that can be said on the topic. Master Ihon had
some good ideas about how to make dance more prominent in the kingdom.
There is also the whole topic of how to get dance to happen at events.
Is dance at events a key to having a well-attended weekly practice, or
does the well-attended practice come first? Chicken-and-egg.

In service,
Guillaume de Troyes

On Wednesday, June 11, 2003, at 02:28  PM, Scot and Michelle Henry

> Everyone feel free to post any requests or ideas for what you would
> like to
> see happen throughout the kingdom in regards to dance on this site.
> I hope to talk more with other dancers at Lilies who had suggested
> having
> more regional dance practices between those groups who are not
> fortunate
> enough to be Cynnabar or Carolingia.  ;-)
> In service,
> Melissent d'Aulnay (Capricia), who thought it would be wise to got ot
> Mesquite during the AGED meeting.

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