[Anst-dancers] Resurrecting dance in Ansteorra

Scot and Michelle Henry cshenry at ev1.net
Thu Jun 12 13:35:41 PDT 2003

So, just to stir the pot.

HOw many dancers are planning on attending Midsummer's Masque in Lindenwood?
I now it's been highly disappointing in the past, but it would be a good
place to continue making the effort to dance at events.
I have chosen to go to Lilies so will be unable to attend, but I will
encoureage my students to attend.  They are not at the point of running
dance, nor is their repertoire very extensive since we have such a small
group, but they are willing especially if someone is there to lead them.
There were a lot of "old-time" Steppes dancers at the event Saturday, so
maybe the Masque will get a large crowd.  I know many of these have switched
over to middle eastern and attended our peasant dance class en masse.  So
they are obviously interested in the social aspects of dance.  I know there
are several dance "games" available which could fill the place of HITW":
Jenny Pluck Partners, Del's HOrses' Bransle, Il Piantone/The Pinwheel,
L'Caccia d'Amore, I'd even throw in Farandole to name but a few.  These
require larger numbers of people than most of us get, but if a few solid
people know them, it's not hard to get a whole crowd dancing them at an
groups I've been in have also taken to "sharking: into Whirligig, Black Nag,
Picking of Sticks, Anello, Rostiboli, Petit Vriens, and just about any other
dance we can think of.  That was a big part of what HITW fun to many people.
We can encourage this and spark interest at the same time showing that not
all dance has to be taken so seriously.  I think we also need to incorporate
the concept that dancing itself was a time for socializing.  Every group
I've danced with has spent lots of time on steps, but not on styling or on
talking while dancing.  It's a skill that needs to be taught.  Yes this will
mean teaching the differenct between when dance is meant to be a performance
and when it isn't, but I think people can grasp that pretty easily.

I'm really excited at all the traffic I'm seeing on the list the past couple
of days.  Keep sending your ideas and communicating.  I'll see what I can
organize after I return from Lilies.

In service,
Melissent the Capricious
(New Dance Proctor - EEK!! ;-) )

-----Original Message-----
From: ansteorra-dancers-admin at ansteorra.org
[mailto:ansteorra-dancers-admin at ansteorra.org]On Behalf Of Nadine Latief
Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2003 9:43 AM
To: ansteorra-dancers at ansteorra.org
Subject: Re: [Anst-dancers] Resurrecting dance in Ansteorra

Good stuff, Guillaume.

My own thoughts:
The Bryn Gwlad Guild has been doing -relatively- okay. We vary between
around 8 dancers or so, which makes it convenient for a 4 couple ECD dance.
Ever since I took over this year, I don't remember ever having less then 4
people. But partly it's because I have very faithful regulars who love

There's been a resurgence of dance interest at Bryn Gwlad events. In our
next Fall Baronial event, the stewards want a dance of 6 young girls at
court, and since the theme has Henry's 6 queens, the queen's are supposed
to do some dancing. There's dancing at Myfanwy's Yule Revel, and a dance
track planned for Charles's Candlemas as well as a Ball. 2 of those 3
events have dancemasters stewarding them, and the other one has people
interested in promoting dance in the barony. This past week alone I've 2
people come up to me saperately about teaching dance before Fighter
Practice. This is quite irregular. :) Thank you KWD!

The dancers in Bryn Gwlad are very much integrated into the rest of the
Barony. My problem is mainly a lack of capable dancers willing to be dance
teachers because they're so busy doing other things (one of my most
talented members is in Morocco for the summer). I think I'm goign to start
poking them to teach more :)

Regional dance practices is good, because I get to do more dances that I
like and they can be inspiring. Look at what KWD has done for our own
Kingdom dance interests. As for the problem of dancers being a sub
mainstream, I can point you to Pennsic, where people feel the same way.
It's society-wide. I'm not sure what the solution is, besides making sure
the people in control are dancers, socializing and politizing more? Or come
to events where they are dance and support it. So we have more then 3
people teaching at King's College, more then 6 people showing up at events
with dance.

Just my 2 continenzas,

At 01:30 AM 6/12/2003 -0500, you wrote:
>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.
>Ansteorra-dancers mailing list
>Ansteorra-dancers at ansteorra.org
Ansteorra-dancers mailing list
Ansteorra-dancers at ansteorra.org

More information about the Ansteorra-dancers mailing list