RE: Top dances for the Outlands
- Still hoping for more input from others (maybe the holidays were a bad
time), here's my list of twelve dances everyone should know:
Petit Riens - lots of fun, 15th century Italian chasing dance. Easy to
and still fun for the experienced dancer, and a fun introduction to
Italian dances. Did I mention that its fun, too?
Rostiboli Gioioso - A basic 15th century Italian Ballo. Do one, others will
easier to learn. A slower chasing dance, this is sexy and fun.
Il Piantone - A very easy, fun 16th century Italian dance. Any other 16c's?
Galliards (cinq pas & a variation or two) - THE dance for all of Renaissance
Europe. Period aerobics, the galliard looks great, leads to
like La Volta, and makes everything else seem easy. Besides, they're
"Carolingian" Pavan (Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie) - OK, its a modern
but its more fun than the basic Pavan in Arbeau and the music is
Casuelle la Novelle (or Lauro, Joyoussance, or any bassa danse) - There are
500 bassa danses extant from our period (music and/or steps), how
not do one? Besides, they are pretty, easy, and fun. Again: learn
and your ready for them all.
Bransle Montarde - Half of Arbeau is bransles. We need a mixed bransle, and
interesting and fun.
Bransle des Pois (Pease) - A cute mimed bransle, easy and fun.
Black Almain - Have to have an Old Measure. This is as difficult as they
and its still a good, fun beginner's dance.
Gathering Peascods - A rousing, fun English country dance for as many as
Rufty Tufty - A fun English country dance for two couples.
Black Nag - Ever popular basic English country dance. This one is fun too.
These are basic dances taken from 15th and 16th century Italian, 16th
century Burgundian, French, and English (Old Measures), and early English
Country (1651) sources. Black Nag is 3rd edition Playford, but is
archtypical of three couple English County Dances. Substitute Upon A
Summer's Day or the more challenging Picking Up Sticks and you stay with
first edition Playford. The "Carolingian" pavan is a modern interpretation
of period pavans done to beautiful period pavan music (because the period
pavans seem exceedingly boring when your references are Arbeau and the
Quadran Pavan). Remove the ornamentation and you have a period pavan.
All of these dances are fun. All are period or very like period
dances. Once a dancer has accomplished any of these, many dances in the
same genre will be easier and less intimidating. These dances cover every
major area of readily available historical dance. If all are known, a
dancer will be well positioned to learn almost any new dance.
I would like another 16th century Italian for the list, and will
eventualy want one from the Gresley manuscript (which is too cutting edge
for us just now). Meanwhile, the Outlands can do well with the dances
Note that these are good dances for everyone to know because they are
fun, cover a broad range of styles, and are not difficult. That said, there
are a couple that I have only done a few of times - and my new addition, Il
Piantone, I've only done once (but it's sooooo easy). I think this is a
good (basic) list of what 'everyone' 'should' know. Also, there can be no
final, ultimate list - this is just a starting place for thought and is
subject to constant review.
This short list is for the casual dancer. Those of us especially
interested in dancing will want to learn many more dances, particularly in
our favorite styles. The list above can still serve as a reminder of the
range of historical dance embraced by the SCA.
Up next: some excerpts from the sca-dance list top 12 discussion.
Keith / Guillaume
From: Swashbuckler [mailto:swashbuckler@...]
I would like to ask what 12 dances do you think every dancer in the
Outlands should know and why? After we've seen some of the ideas from other
Outlanders, I will post my own list and a summary of the results from the
Keith / Guillaume
- Hi there:
About three weeks ago, I asked "what 12 dances do you think every
dancer in the Outlands should know and why?" The question was posted on the
sca-dance list last year and I was curious what the results would be here in
Also, while preparing for Caerthen Twelfth Night, The Honorable Lady
Caelainn (leader of our fine musicians) asked me to list the top 20 dances
in the Outlands. She wanted to prepare sheet music to take with her to
every event so she would always have our most requested pieces. Not quite
the same question, but similar. As it happens, Caelainn ended up with more
than 20 and is willing to add more if needed.
So what dances should everyone know? No definitive answer is possible.
This is an exercise to evaluate and share where we are, where we want to
go, and how we view dance in the SCA. I know my list has changed just in
the last year, and I expect it will in the future.
I counted eleven people who responded on the sca-dance list. Between
them, they named 65 dances. One did responded with only eight: galliard,
the sink-a-pace, the gagliarda, the cinque-pas, the tourdion, the gagliard,
tordglione, and tordion with the comment "If you can do these, you can fake
your way through anything :-)". Yes, these are all essentially the same and
I counted them as one dance. Most, however, responded with a variety of
dances. They reasoned that everyone "should" know a basic dance in each of
the styles appropriate to the SCA's period. Then it would be easier to
learn any new dances that are encountered. It was noted that "should" does
not mean "does". This is more like an ideal to be sought even if never
17 of the dances named were Italian, 16 English Country from Playford,
13 French from Arbeau (although two were suites of four, which totals 18
French [one duplicate] - not counting the pavan or basse dance), 6 were
Basse Dances, 5 Old Measures, and 3 Pavans (plus 5 others, if you're
counting, including a wish for a Gresley dance). 29 dances were mentioned
more than once. I tallied the "votes", allowing one vote for each dance in
each list, but counting only half a vote for each dance that shared a spot
(i.e. "Grimstock (or Black Nag)" each got 1/2). So, from the sca-dance
list, "what 12 dances should every SCA gentle know?":
Petit Vriens (8 votes)
Rostibolli Gioioso (6.5)
Galliards & La Volta, Tourdion (6.5)
Gathering Peascods (5 plus two 1/2's)
Ballo del Fiore (6)
Black Alman (6)
Branles Official (5.5)
Black Nag (3 plus two 1/2's)
Rufty Tufty (4)
Horses Bransle (4)
Sellingers Round (3.5)
That's three 15th c. Italians, Galliards (everyone did them), four
English Country dances, one 16th c. Italian, one Old Measure, and two
Bransles. Except for Basse Dances and/or Pavans (no single favorite tops
the list), a pretty decent sampling of period dance styles. Note that the
top seven dances were all mentioned by at least half of the respondents.
I've done eleven of these and we've taught ten of them at Caerthen
practice. Not bad. I've also done nine (and we've taught eighth) of the
next twelve (plus Charlotte from "A bransle suite (cassandra, pinagay,
charlotte, and aridan...)"). Of course these are well known, and I've been
around some, so I "should" have seen them before. In fact, as I go down the
list, I've never even heard of some of the less mentioned dances. That's
regional variation for you.
Few out of period dances were mentioned. "Hole in the Head...er..umm..
Wall" got one vote plus a "just seeing if you're paying attention" that was
changed to Earl of Salisbury Pavan (a modern ornamentation of Quadran
Pavan). That doesn't mean that nobody in the Known World does out of period
dances, just that the respondents to this question wish everyone also knew
these period dances.
We are, of course, under no obligation to follow anyone's lists, but I
think its good to see what people in other kingdoms consider important. We
can keep this in mind when practicing dances for inter kingdom events like
Estrella, Gulf Wars, or Pennsic.
Moving on to the Outlands-dance list, we only had four responses to my
question (including my own). Proportionally, I think that's better than the
SCA-dance list. But we came up with 30 dances plus two non-beginners
favorites (Whirligig and Verceppe - I agree that they are great dances, once
you know them). Our top dances:
Black Nag (4 votes)
"Belle Qui" (Carolingian) pavan (4)
Gathering Peascods (3)
Horses Bransle (2.5)
Petit Riens (2)
Galliards/Cinq Pas (2)
Black Alman (2)
Heart's Ease (2)
Maltese Bransle (2)
Hole in the Wall (2)
Sellinger's Round (2)
Casulle la Nouelle (1.5)
Pease Bransle (1.5)
With only four data points, I am not comfortable giving much authority
to this list. Only Caerthe and Dragonsspine are represented, and I know
there are important dance leaders (not to mention active dancers) in Caer
Galen and Unser Hafen. Al-Barran also has a fledgling but enthusiastic
dance group. Unfortunately, I am not sure if these groups are represented
on the outlands-dance list.
Hopefully, this will give everyone something to think about. Maybe we
can try the exercise again sometime.
Keith / Guillaume