academie: Fw: [SCA-Dance] Dance Guilds

Miriam Robinson Gould madame_sosostris at
Thu Mar 1 19:22:26 PST 2001

>I thought it was a good idea, too.  I asked the poster of the message Rowen
>forwarded to send me more information about the actual ranking system 
>planning to use.  I've included below the relevant portion of what she sent 
>It seems pretty good.  It has a rather nice balance of performance and 
>and to move along in it you need to have a wide repertoire that spans 
>styles (e.g., you can't reach the upper levels being solely an expert at 
>For those interested in charting self-improvement, it seems a pretty good 
>that progressively forces you to both broaden and deepen your knowledge, 
>both as
>a dancer and as a teacher.
>I would like to recommend that we seriously consider implementing something 
>this, on a purely voluntary basis of course, but as something that is 
>within the Academie.  As Greg quite correctly pointed out, not everyone is 
>to want to participate, and no expectation should be placed on those who 
>wish to.  But I also know a lot of people who would really benefit from
>something like this, and it might even force some people who'd like the
>recognition to broaden their perspectives some.
I'm with Gregory in that I don't like ranking systems.  I'll admit this is 
not a purely rational objection, but, to me, ranking systems enforce a 
certain Insider-Outsider clique-ness.  Some people have to start out as 
judges... well, how do you pick those?  Then, it's the judges who decide 
what will be looked for in a dance.  Would it merely be an ability to 
perform the required step sequences of the dance?  Or would people also be 
judged on the slightly more subjective qualities of grace, musicality, and 
the ability to dance to a period rather than a modern aesthetic.  And then 
there are some practical issues, what do you do if someone wants to take the 
test, but doesn't have a partner? How do you give someone who is a true 
master of one style, graciously teaches the style, and writes articles about 
it, but just isn't interested in a different style, the recognition that 
their mastery deserves?

Plus, you can say it's voluntary, but it's either ineffective or it becomes 
compulsorary.  If the recognition is going to mean enough to be worth 
having, then that means those who don't have the levels will be seen as 
lesser, regardless of whether they don't have the levels because they choose 
not to try for it or because they cannot attain it.  The alternative is that 
the rankings will have no meaning and people will judge based on individual 
merit (my perferred method *grin*), in which case what's the point to having 
the rankings?

And it also seems to me like putting energy in the wrong place.  Rather than 
creating our own insider system to give people recognition, shouldn't we be 
trying to use the systems Atlantia already has in place by recommending the 
skilled dancers for Pearls and Laurels?

I guess for me, too, there's an element of not liking the idea that people 
would try to learn dances for some dangling carrot.  Shouldn't you learn to 
dance because you love it and want to do it well?  Shouldn't you want to 
learn multiple repertoires so you can be a good teacher and teach your 
students the variety of available dances that are you there?

And there's the other problem that ranking systems in the SCA never have a 
period feel to them.  There are period models for recognizing good dancers 
(Ebreo's exercises for example) but there aren't exactly rankings.  It seems 
closer to what we already have:  a semi-informal system where some people 
who dedicate themselves to the study of dance become known as 
Dancemaster/mistresses and attain recognition by the nobility for it.

In service,

Sayidda Tahira bint Ibrahim al-Ishbiliyya
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