[Anst-dancers] Ansteorra-dancers Digest, Vol 11, Issue 8

Scot and Michelle Henry cshenry at peoplepc.com
Mon Dec 10 22:31:32 PST 2007

Wow, take a break from e-mail and see what happens.  Sorry to join the
conversation late and to have missed Yule Revel - how did the dancing go?


After having read all the e-mails, I have a few comments (not in any order
of importance - just how they occur to me):

1.	Coronation would be fine for a guild meeting.  Since we haven't done
anything according to our by-laws lately, I think simply getting restarted
is a more important issue than the letter of the law.  It would be nice to
have the meeting in print somewhere though.  I'll bring whatever guild
paperwork (my notes, etc.), unsold KWDS booklets, etc. that I might still
have in my possession to the meeting to pass along to the new proctor.  
2.	I agree that costume is not really a focus for dance.  Although I
admire the overall look of the Ren Fair dancers all being dressed in similar
time period and locale, it has never been my experience that we get that
cohesiveness in SCA dance and that is OK.  Goodness, my 1350's French
persona wouldn't even have a chance to know most of the dances that we do
and while I consider making some really nice Renaissance garb, I like my
cotehardies too much - provide good support and have really awesome swishy
skirts and sometimes, sleeves.  
3.	My own involvement slacked for many reasons - graduate school being
a big one, lack of anyone to dance with locally also being a big factor  -
although I really didn't mind holding class with just my one student and
would travel up to three hours weekly to teach others and play with other
dancers.  Another big factor is that my husband is no longer interested.  I
take his lack of interest to be more like a regular SCA person's vs. mine,
as a dance geek.  He stopped dancing for two main reasons:  he no longer
found it fun (partly because the people who were dancing had a different
goal - i.e. becoming a dance geek vs. just enjoying the social aspect, and
political posturing) and he got really annoyed by the "Nazi" mentality that
anyone could really claim "This is exactly how it was done in period."  or
"This is THE correct way to do this dance."  As with cooking, his other SCA
passion, he believes we can never really replicate exactly how things were
in period, we can only approximate them and make them as "tasty" and
"medieval to our minds" as possible.  Learn a dance, but then have fun with
it!  This really fits Aurore's ideas.  Many of the dance masters talk about
styling and learning it through playing around with the dance - pretend your
partner is your long-lost love, pretend the same but sadly you are already
married to another and must be faithful because he (or the priest or your
father) are in the room, pretend you are forced to dance with the most
loathsome creature on earth, etc.  When Steppes had its largest dance group,
play was part of the dances.  Okay, I'd be really annoyed when the cloaks
and vampire teeth were pulled out to John Tallow's Cannon to the "Woo-woo"
music, but the group was huge with a good mix of long-time dancers,
high-schoolers, singles, married couples, etc.  The first group I taught in
loved doing Snoopy set-and-turns and trying to mess up each other on those
"simple" dances.  I thought taking him to KWDS in Australia and exposing him
to a completely different group of dancers, would reinvigorate him,
especially since KWDS in Boston is still my all-time favorite event, but the
dance Nazism and political posturing of a couple/few was the nail in the
coffin.  It is less fun to go to events without him and it means precious
time apart if I choose to go on my own.
4.	Along those lines, why do people still love Hole in the Wall as a
general rule of thumb (I always thought it had too much reverencing)?
Because it's a dance game and you get to switch partners.  There are a few
people who come to dance to only dance with one person, but for the most
part, people want to mingle with many partners.  There are plenty of dance
games and many other dances that lend themselves to playing around.  Don't
get me wrong, I do think there is a time and a place for doing dances to the
best of one's ability, striving for perfection, and for performance.  But,
for the most part, dance is meant to be a social event.  Do you chat while
dancing?  Do you laugh?  Do you get to know someone better?  I know you need
a certain level of comfort with the dances (or with yourself) to do these
and still get through the dance, but we all have led complete beginners
through any number of dances.  If it's more complex, just let them know they
should go ahead and give it a try and as long as no one gets hurt, what does
it matter if they mess up.  While not a complete newbie, my husband hadn't
ever danced Whirligig, yet Estril successfully pulled him through it as a
performance in court.  At Pennsic, we regularly pulled in complete beginners
and those who were a few sheets to the wind.  They had a great time and we
had more people to dance with, thus we also had a good time. 
5.	I did go to Crystal Ball this year.  I must confess that after
having only attended four events in as many years (all dance events and all
out-of-kingdom), I was not up to my old standards, but I still had a blast.
I had good friends there from other kingdoms, which made the sleepless
weekend worthwhile.  Granted, I still don't know many of the people from
Shattered Crystal very well, but I always have a blast.  Attending Pennsic
and Crystal Ball really made me realize how much I still love dance and how
badly I miss it.  Although our dance is not for individuals, I figure I can
still do a whole lot of dancing by myself here at me house and can still
travel to dance with others.  Perhaps, I'll even motivate myself to scrounge
up some new people for a class again.   Speaking of Crystal Ball, it is
always HUGE and has no "official" teaching or calling at the ball.  Part of
the reason, it's so huge is because a large number of the dances are OOP or
SCA inventions and primarily the same dances are done every year, so most
people feel comfortable doing a good number of them.  I, personally, think
we should try to do period dances, but we need to be sure to include the
elements of the OOP that people find so appealing - energetic, playful,
"game," partner-swapping, etc.
6.	I wholeheartedly agree that AGED should be about PR, promotion, and
teaching.  The proctor (or a deputy/designee) should be about knowing who is
willing to teach, how far they are willing to drive and matching them up
with prospective dancers desiring a teacher.  This and other good ideas were
started a few years back and the remnants are on the web page.  We could
definitely revive this and update information.  
7.	In regards to getting higher-level folks dancing, I think it is just
as important that we are visible to them - both as dancers and as SCA
individuals with wider scopes (service, other arts, etc.).  We do need to
make a concerted effort to get dancing back on to the event schedules and to
entertain others during feasts, etc.  We also need to remember "you scratch
my back, I'll scratch yours."  All people are much more willing to be
accommodating if you can also be accommodating.  Find out if they are not
dancing or watching dancing because of another conflict and see if dance
can't be done when they're free.  Pick-up dancing CAN happen as
spontaneously as pick-up fighting.  Again, part of the draw of KWDS Boston
was the opportunity to dance pretty much 24/7 for 5 days straight.  Classes
would end, impromptu classes would happen on the stage or in the halls, the
ball would end and we'd simply move to another venue - dancing in the
streets, etc, 2 or 3 would get together and start discussing something and
just have to try it out (can we do Gelosia for 9 - YES!).  Once you've got
the higher-up there, make sure you do something that will flatter them and
intrigue them.  If they look good in front of others while dancing, they'll
keep doing it.  If they feel uncomfortable, they won't.  
8.	Okay, enough blabbering, I should go to bed.  I'm so excited that
others are feeling a renewed interest at the same time I am.  I can hardly
wait to see what happens! ;-)


Michelle (AKA Capricia)



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