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351Re: [CalontirDance] dance reconstruction criteria

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  • Keith McClune
    Jul 21, 2003
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      Hi there:

      "Slick, Jeremy J." wrote:

      >My one question about the complexity issue: If the group that is doing the
      > recreation tries to do any Court dances, many of those are very simplistic in
      > dance steps and allow little to no variation from the original.

      I think this is a simplistic representation of Court dance. Most of the 16th c.
      manuals, at least, deal with improvisation, which is a great way to add
      complexity. I think all of the manuals talk about how dances must be done in
      context (modified based on space, instruments, your partner's abilities, etc.).
      So there are many ways a reconstructor can add complexity (besides doing their
      own translations, step interpretations, correlations with other sources, etc.).

      After doing Rostiboli Gioioso once at a feast, a visitor from another kingdom
      confided that she had intended to "kidnap" into the dance, but when she saw the
      "connection" between me and my lady, she couldn't bear to break us apart. Since
      we WERE being formal and staid, I consider this a great compliment on our
      ability to use subtle gestures. I have known many "accomplished" dancers that
      are oblivious to this aspect of dance.
      >
      "Sauer, Michael F." wrote:

      > Should a reconstruction of the most complex bransle be equal to the most
      > complex English Country Dance?

      It depends on the complexity of the project, not just the dance. Did the branle
      involve translating from french? Does the ECD have a complex pattern that can
      read strait out of Playford?

      Complexity is (to me) largely a measure of how much work was involved in
      understanding, interpreting, and presenting the material (including, in the case
      of dance, remembering long sequences). If this was not difficult (you read one
      transcription of Quadran Pavan and performed it using steps learned at a
      practice), then complexity must be low - if you want a higher score, then pick a
      different dance, or do more work.

      In the case a Quadran Pavan, there are more than half a dozen manuscripts that
      describe the dance. One may transcribe these, compare them, discuss the context
      of the manuscripts and the dance environment, and contrast other contemporary
      dances. Perhaps there is a progression between the manuscripts that shows how
      the dance changed over one hundred years. This research and analysis will make
      any reconstruction more complex (and complete).

      By comparison, a 15th c. italian dance from Ebreo may or may not be very
      complex. Simply reading Sparti's translation of one dance and performing it
      (again) using steps you learned at practice, is not very complex. Even though
      all of Ebreo's dances are, themselves, more complex than Quadran Pavan. On the
      other hand, doing your own transcription and translation from an italian
      facsimile is automatically fairly complex, and if you perform the same
      comparisons with other dances, manuscripts, etc., this project would be even
      more complex than any English dance reconstruction could ever be.

      For most 16th. c. dances you can create your own "solo" section, using a mix of
      galliard steps, cut steps, etc.

      The recognition and interpretation of obscure, confusing, and/or incomplete
      instructions is also vital.

      As a competition judge (in the Outlands), I have found documentation the key:
      if one entry looks impressive but doesn't tell me what was involved in its
      research and preparation, then it cannot receive full marks for authenticity,
      creativity, or complexity. At the same time, a well documented entry tells me
      see not only what the person knows, but also helps me understand the importance
      of elements that I might have missed. Whenever possible, I ask questions -
      sometimes because I am curious, but usually to give the entrant a chance to show
      how this entry is special.

      Until I started judging, I never had a full appreciation of just how valuable
      documentation is - not to prove you can write a term paper or dissertation, but
      to explain what you did, how you did it, what choices were made, and why, etc.

      Keith / Guillaume S:}>
      Denver / Outlands

      A brief example: "This dance comes from Arbeau's Orchesography, published in
      France in 1589. I used the English translation by Mary Stuart Evans; it is the
      only period dance book in our library./P Branles were one popular style of
      dance at upper class parties. Some others were the sedate almans and energetic
      galliards./P While the basic pattern of this branle is not incredibly complex,
      I have ornamented it with the cut steps that Arbeau recommends. Note that the
      'doubles' are done with different galliard-like steps on each repeat. Such
      improvisational displays by better dancers were considered stylish./P The
      recording that I use is by the prestigious New York Renaissance Band, and was
      intended to be danced to."
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