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Re: [CalontirDance] dance reconstruction criteria

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  • Amy and Bill Morris
    Three thoughts on simplistic court dances... 1) It can be argued persuasively that one reason our records of many court dances are simplistic are that they
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 21, 2003
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      Three thoughts on simplistic court dances...

      1) It can be argued persuasively that one reason our records of many court
      dances are simplistic are that they are a base form upon which improvisation
      may be done. Glancing at Arbeau quickly I got improvisation recommended for
      pavane, galliard, lavolta, alman, double branle. And that is without a
      close reading. Doubtless the same is true for some other dances if not for
      all.

      N.B. Yes, this does mean that too close following of the written sources can
      result in a less authentic dance, for certain dances.

      The dance reconstructer thus should also be able to include allowable
      variations, at what points in the music which variations can be done, and in
      couple dances how one partner would signal the other partner that a
      particular variation. For example Arbeau's description of how to lead in
      Lavolta begs for clarification.

      2) Yes some dances are more complex then others, and therefore have
      potentially higher scores in the complexity category then others. (As
      Conrad notes this is not a problem limited to dance, some competitions have
      even removed complexity from the criteria, or kept it but not added it in to
      the overall score) Remember that you can include complementary material
      when it is relevant, not just where and when was the dance done, but indoors
      or outdoors?, which seasons? by which classes? by which age groups?
      wearing what? On a wood floor?, tile? grass? what musical instruments were
      available and how skilled were the dance musicians? All of these questions
      can affect the style of the dance. The hornpipe is was popular with sailors
      partly because it could be done without a partner in a crowded space (such
      as a quarter-deck). The intricate styling in 19th century Serbian women's
      dances is closely connected with the rather restrictive women's skirts.
      Oriental cultures that used to bind women's feet strongly reflect that in
      their dances. Dances done by the populace sometimes include opportunities
      to flirt, dances done for an audience by the dance professionals (whether
      Byzantine, Japanese, or late period French) may include mimed courtship but
      tend to lack real opportunities for the participants to flirt.

      I am currently learning Buffens (the sword dance) from Arbeau. The height
      of the ceiling can interfere with some of the styling. Even without further
      proof, this would suggest that it was unlikely to be done in lower class
      dwellings, which tend to have low roofs.

      3) In many cases the more simple dances were rarely done alone. The double
      bransle would be done as the start of a bransle suite, The pavane would be
      followed by a galliard. Don't stop after doing part, do the whole thing
      like it would be done in period.

      Breichiol map Lludd o Fannauc
      (known among the saesneg as Mableth)
      morris@...


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Sauer, Michael F." <sauerm@...>
      To: <CalontirDance@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Monday, July 21, 2003 1:02 PM
      Subject: RE: [CalontirDance] dance reconstruction criteria


      > >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.
      >
      >
      > OK this is a question that has been brought up in some of the private
      feedback I have gotten.
      >
      > The generic criteria for complexit is "- Rank the ambition of the entry,
      NOT the workmanship"
      >
      > Can/should this be judged according the the generic complex dance of that
      type or
      > is there an "absolute" scale over all dance in period?
      >
      > Should a reconstruction of the most complex bransle be equal to the most
      complex English Country Dance?
      > If yes will that allow people to score well using potentially easier
      dances?
      > If no would that hurt people who mostly study one era/local because the
      like it, gasp, its their persona's?
      >
      > Something has been done in this regard with costuming where theres an
      early, middle and late period category.
      > Therefore a properly made norese dress can compete with a tudor dress.
      >
      > So please discus this point :)
      >
      >
      > >Are they any ways to judge against the authenticity to determine if the
      complexity factor should be taken into account?
      >
      > I'm not sure how this would effect/be effected by Authenticity. In
      reconstruction you don't want to "make up"
      > anything unless you have to. Some sources for all eras/places have
      omissions or seemingly contradictory
      > instructions - working around those successfully can lead to increased
      complexity, but you should never loose
      > points (or fail to gain them) if you don't need to alter anything.
      >
      > Conrad
      >
      >
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      >
      >
    • Keith McClune
      Hi there: ... 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
      Message 2 of 10 , 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."
      • Carol O'Connell
        In music performance, it s easier to score more points with a more complex piece. But you can receive extra points on a simple piece if it s ornamented in a
        Message 3 of 10 , Jul 22, 2003
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          In music performance, it's easier to score more points with a more complex
          piece. But you can receive extra points on a simple piece if it's ornamented
          in a period style.

          Conna

          Conrad wrote:

          >
          > Should a reconstruction of the most complex bransle be equal to the most
          > complex English Country Dance?
          > If yes will that allow people to score well using potentially easier dances?
          > If no would that hurt people who mostly study one era/local because the like
          > it, gasp, its their persona's?
          >
          > Something has been done in this regard with costuming where theres an early,
          > middle and late period category.
          > Therefore a properly made norese dress can compete with a tudor dress.
          >
          > So please discus this point :)
          >
        • Sauer, Michael F.
          ... I think the key word here is performance vs. reconstruction. I think dance reconstruction is more similar to music transcription. How would embellishments
          Message 4 of 10 , Jul 22, 2003
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            >In music performance, it's easier to score more points with a more complex
            >piece. But you can receive extra points on a simple piece if it's ornamented
            >in a period style.

            >Conna

            I think the key word here is performance vs. reconstruction.
            I think dance reconstruction is more similar to music transcription.

            How would embellishments be handled when transcribing music?

            In dance performance adding appropriate ornamentation would
            definitely increase the complexity of something.

            I'm not sure if we want to go there for reconstruction. IMO the definition
            of ornamentation is "something extra to do that the dance master doesn't
            bother to write down when and where to do it" - so adding ornamentations
            while fine for the performance (which isn't judged directly for a reconstruction)
            would not necessarily make the reconstruction harder.

            In many ways the performance is just so people can see how things work, the actual result
            is how to do a dance not the dance itself.

            Conrad



            Conrad wrote:

            >
            > Should a reconstruction of the most complex bransle be equal to the most
            > complex English Country Dance?
            > If yes will that allow people to score well using potentially easier dances?
            > If no would that hurt people who mostly study one era/local because the like
            > it, gasp, its their persona's?
            >
            > Something has been done in this regard with costuming where theres an early,
            > middle and late period category.
            > Therefore a properly made norese dress can compete with a tudor dress.
            >
            > So please discus this point :)
            >



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          • Carol O'Connell
            Yes, you re absolutely right. Embellishments should _not_ be included in a transcription. Doing so would change them from embellishments to required bits, and
            Message 5 of 10 , Jul 22, 2003
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              Yes, you're absolutely right. Embellishments should _not_ be included in a
              transcription. Doing so would change them from embellishments to required
              bits, and that would be inaccurate.

              There are examples of music written down in which a later version has the
              embellishments written in as part of the music. That's the evolution over
              time of a simple tune that's been embellished a lot. For a music
              transcription entry, I think it would be reasonable to allow for extra
              points if the entrant included a section in the documentation describing the
              types of embellishment that would be appropriate and a second copy of the
              music showing some of this embellishment.

              So, for dance reconstruction, extra point if embellishments are discussed in
              the documentation? Maybe I'm pushing it here. I'd like people to choose a
              dance style appropriate for their persona and not get docked on points
              because it's a simpler style.

              Conna

              > From: "Sauer, Michael F." <sauerm@...>
              > Reply-To: CalontirDance@yahoogroups.com
              > Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 10:20:25 -0500
              > To: <CalontirDance@yahoogroups.com>
              > Subject: RE: [CalontirDance] dance reconstruction criteria
              >
              >
              >> In music performance, it's easier to score more points with a more complex
              >> piece. But you can receive extra points on a simple piece if it's ornamented
              >> in a period style.
              >
              >> Conna
              >
              > I think the key word here is performance vs. reconstruction.
              > I think dance reconstruction is more similar to music transcription.
              >
              > How would embellishments be handled when transcribing music?
              >
              > In dance performance adding appropriate ornamentation would
              > definitely increase the complexity of something.
              >
              > I'm not sure if we want to go there for reconstruction. IMO the definition
              > of ornamentation is "something extra to do that the dance master doesn't
              > bother to write down when and where to do it" - so adding ornamentations
              > while fine for the performance (which isn't judged directly for a
              > reconstruction)
              > would not necessarily make the reconstruction harder.
              >
              > In many ways the performance is just so people can see how things work, the
              > actual result
              > is how to do a dance not the dance itself.
              >
              > Conrad
              >
              >
              >
              > Conrad wrote:
              >
              >>
              >> Should a reconstruction of the most complex bransle be equal to the most
              >> complex English Country Dance?
              >> If yes will that allow people to score well using potentially easier dances?
              >> If no would that hurt people who mostly study one era/local because the like
              >> it, gasp, its their persona's?
              >>
              >> Something has been done in this regard with costuming where theres an early,
              >> middle and late period category.
              >> Therefore a properly made norese dress can compete with a tudor dress.
              >>
              >> So please discus this point :)
              >>
              >
              >
              >
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              >
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              >
              >
              >
              >
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              >
              >
              >
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              >
              >
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