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Ball Report: Terpsichore at the Tower

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  • Chris Mortika
    This weekend, the Barony of Cynnabar (Ann Arbor, Mich.) hosted its 15th annual Terpsichore at the Tower dance event. Canontir sent two dancers from Coeur
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 29, 2009
      This weekend, the Barony of Cynnabar (Ann Arbor, Mich.) hosted its 15th annual "Terpsichore at the Tower" dance event. Canontir sent two dancers from Coeur dEnnui (Lady Daria, who taught one of the classes, and her husband) and musicians from Shadowdale and Three Rivers.

      The event is held in a church, with European dance classes down in the sectioned-off basement and Middle Eastern dancing upstairs in a collection of small classrooms.

      The European Dance classes taught:
      "A Stroll": Carolingian Pavane and Contrapasso in Due
      Bransles: Poitou, Scottish, Trihory, Arbeau's Maltese
      Almains: Black and Queen's and Monsieur's
      Beginning English Country: Sellenger's Round, Black Nag, Gathering Peascods
      15th C. Italian: Petit Vriens, Amoroso
      "Around London": Maiden Lane, St. Martin's, Hockley-in-the-Hole
      "Joy and Jealousy": Rostiboli Gioioso, Gioioso in Tre, Gelosia
      "3-couple dances": Shepherd's Holiday, The Night Piece, Woodycock
      Spero, Furioso
      "Longways Proto-contras": Health to Betty, Paul's Steeple, Staines Morris
      "16th C. Favorites": Gracca Amorosa, Bizzaria d'Amore
      Parson's Farewell, Picking of Sticks, Cucolds all in a Row
      Bella Gioiosa

      The people of the barony offered lunch/dinner on site, but they ran out of meat at the end of lunch, so a lot of folks ran off-site for dinner. The ball started at 7:00 and ran till 11:00.

      Ballo de Fiore (a nice way to begin, I thought.) The mood of the night was set when His Excellency Midair instructed "all men who would like to begin this dance, need to see my wife over there for your flowers." And someone else yelled out "Midair wants you to go over and de-flower his wife!" All righty, then.

      Sellenger's Round
      Bransle Suite (This was pretty tightly plotted by the musicians. Lady Jadzia would play the first phrase solo, and then we would all join in on a bransle. When Lord Aaron, the head musician, yelled "switch," we would finish the phrase of the current bransle, and Jadzia would immediately start playing the next one.) The order went: Double Bransle, Single, Bransle Gay, Maltese, Poitou, Scottish, Triory, back to Poitou, back to Single, back to Double, back to Scottish.

      Queen's Almain
      Petit Riens
      Staines Morris

      There was a 10-minute break for the dessert revel.

      Black Almaine
      Gathering Peascods (I'm not bothered by people calling this "Gathering Codpieces", but does everybody have so sound so smug hen they say it, as if nobody'd ever thought of that before??)
      Gracca Amorosa
      Prendente in Gyro
      Rights of Man
      Duchess Rondallyn's Pavane
      Hockley in the Hole (which also uses the tunes from Half Hannikin and Hyde Park)
      The Dance Challenge: Bizzaria d'Amore

      There was another 10-minute break

      Carolingian Pavane, and a galliard danced to Dowland's "Can She Excuse My Wrongs"
      Black Nag
      Rostiboli (Monica Cellio arrangement of the music)
      St. Martin's
      Furioso (using the Musica Subterranea arrangement)
      Salterello: La Regina
      Shepherd's Holiday
      Corwyn's Folly
      Bella Gioiosa

      There was time for three requests:
      -- an ECD I'd not heard before
      -- Korobushka
      -- My Lady Cullen (with the drum section banging out this cool tribal back-beat)

      The band consisted of:
      Lord Aaron Drummond: director, mandolin, recorders, percussion
      Lady Jadzia: keyboard, recorders
      Lady Magda: experienced dancer taking a shot at learning recorder
      Alex: recorder player with a wacky sense of humor
      Lady Shoshona: flute
      Stephanie: flute, and an enormous exotic instrument she called a mandora
      Baroness Anne: `cello and doumbek
      Blaine: drums
      Jeff and Jeff: the violins
      Victor: Great Bass Recorder and a Serpent. I learned that, when somebody's playing a serpent, there's really no use in anybody else playing anything.
      Tony: Guitar
      Me: `cello, percussion, guitar, recorders.

      Aaron ran a pretty well-rehearsed ship. Six weeks beforehand, he'd sent out pdf's of all the arrangements, with road-map notes attached. A couple of weeks ahead of time, he sent out an Excel spreadsheet that spelled out things like:

      Queen's Alman:
      1st time through: violins and mandora on harmonies, flutes and recorders on melody
      2nd time through: keyboards drop out, all recorders stick to melody
      3rd time through: keyboard / `cello duet
      4th time through: big. Everybody in, on any line.

      ...for every piece.

      The locals rehearsed every two weeks. We had a final run-through Friday night on site, and there were spot rehearsals throughout the day on Saturday.

      What this meant is (a) there was a lot of support and encouragement for new or weak players, and (b) during the day, we could concentrate on some of the important changes, like tempos for the various parts of Spero, or the repeat structure of Furioso, because we were well-rehearsed enough to be able to afford the time to address those kinds of details.

      In service,
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