pennsicdance: Hole in the wall and sharking dances

John Boyd byronboyd at
Fri Feb 6 07:24:40 PST 2004

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "L.J. Sparvero" <lyev at>
To: <pennsicdance at>
Cc: <sunshinegirl at>
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2004 0647
Subject: pennsicdance: Hole in the wall and sharking dances

> >And are things like "sharking" a period practice?
> Also the Corranto that Arbeau describes involves women leaving their
> partners, and the men chasing after them.

But men and women leave their partners in "Amoroso" and "New Bo Peep" but
they are not sharking in these dances.  And the dancers trade partners in
many dances, but this is part of the choreography and so is not sharking,

> The reason I'm posting the reply to the list too is that I'd like to know
> if there are there other dances done at Pennsic that have "sharking" (even
> if it's just a local convention, and not documented). Actually,
> *especially* if it's a local convention that others haven't heard of. This
> way I might be able to defuse some disagreements before they happen on the
> dance floor. Pennsic pulls in alot of dancers from a wide area. I've been
> trying to document the various reconstructions/conventions for doing
> dances. This way, if two instructors teach the same dance differently, I'd
> at least be able to be aware of the versions out there. As in, "You might
> have learned this next figure in Barony X, where they do Y, but I'm going
> to teach it to you as Z. Be aware of the differences if you travel."

And this is not always planned.  At our Shire's dance practice last night,
two couples spontaneously sharked their partners (or at least traded them,
depending on one's interpretation) during "Amoroso"  and I've seen sharking
in other dances in which this practice is not common on other occasions.  I
don't recall the specific dances and believe that this occurrences were only
a whim, nor can I remember the Kingdoms in which I saw this although I think
one instance was at Pennsic.  I have read a variation of "Jenny Pluck Pears"
called "Jenny Pluck Partners" (which is akin to musical chairs) but have
never seen this.  A few years ago the dance mistress at an event I attended
created a game from "Hole in the Wall".  The couples were divided into two
teams, with the dancers of each team wearing the same color ribbon on a
wrist.  Some started as dancers and others as sharks.  The winning team was
the one with the most members actually in the dance when the music stopped.
The first major difference between the choreography of a dance I ever
noticed pertains to the Black Alma.  Here in Meridies the dancers face each
other during the exchanges, but I have observed that in at least some
regions of the Miriam the dancers face away from each while exchanging.
There are regional variations of some dances in this Kingdom, and I see not
reason that this would not also be true in others.

Melinda asked me to send some information I have concerning the capers that
often occur during Trench, and I thought I would present them here for the
benefit of all.

There are several references to the dance in literature, including an
interesting comment by Taylor in A Navy of Land Ships (1627):

"Nimble-heel's mariners, like so many dancers, capering a morocco
[Morris-dance], or Trench of forty miles long...."

and by Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy, (1621):

"...we must dance Trenchmore over tables, chairs, and stools.

Iohann se pipere

Sable, a gyron argent

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