pennsicdance: Pennsic Dance Summary

Catherine Dean catherinedean at
Mon Aug 30 09:47:50 PDT 2004

Dear All,

Now that I have finally shaken the "Pennsic Plague," I wanted to post a few notes about dance this year.

First, a big thank-you to everyone who made Pennsic Dancing so pleasant--Domenico and everyone who helped with the floor, all of the instructors who shared their knowledge, and all of the generous folks who hosted a dance party or ran evening dance.  And above all an enormous thank you to Lyev who, I think, did a marvelous job of running dance this year and hopefully (twist twist) will agree to a repeat performance.

Second, overall I thought the dancing I experienced this year (I missed the first week) was, quite frankly, some of the best ever, especially evening dance.  We had a great variety of organized balls, request parties, Wolgamut jams, and pick-up dance.  The parties, in particular, seemed to be a big success and an enormous improvement over standard Caroso balls in terms of people actually having a good time (blasphemous, perhaps, but I'm on the record as not liking sitting idly by watching when I'd rather dance).

Finally, on the last Thursday of war, a group of us hid from the rain and compiled some statistics about dance at war this year that we thought were interesting enough to share.  So, here they are:

(Note:  All Stats EXCLUDE ball prep classes, both Pennsic and Blue Feather, but DO count classes that were taught twice as double)

At Pennsic XXXIII, we had a total of 57 dance classes taught by 15 instructors.  One instructor taught 12 classes, one taught 11, one taught nine, one taught seven, one taught three, five taught two, and five taught one.

By Genre:
7 17th c. English classes  (i.e. Playford) (taught by five instructors)
15 15th c. Italian classes (taught by five instructors)
11 16th c. Italian classes (taught by eight instructors)
7 16th c. French classes (i.e. Arbeau) (taught by 3 instructors)
1 15th c. French class (i.e. Burgundian Basse) (taught by 1 instructor)
2 16th c. English classes (i.e. Inns of Court)  (taught by two instructors)
1 15th c. English classes (i.e. Gresley) (taught by one instructor)
1 children's class (taught by 1 instructor)
12 mixed classes (mostly 15th c. Italian, Branles, and ECD) (taught by four instructors)

By level:
Beginner Classes (defined as having "Intro" or "Beginner" in class title, "for beginners" in class description, and/or consisting of basic dances from the standard repetoire taught without twists or new reconstructions):
Total of 20 classes including 11 mixed, 1 gresley, 2 16th c. Italian, 2 15th c. Italian, 2 ECD, one Inns, 1 Arbeau
Total of 7 instructors.

Intermediate Classes (defined as having "Intermediate" in title, "beginners & up" in course description, and/or consisting of new choreographies, dances outside of the standard repetoire, or dances taught with twists or new reconstructions):
Total of 23 classes including 4 Arbeau, 5 16th C. Italian, 4 ECD, 10 15th c. Italian
Total of 10 instructors

Advanced Classes (defined as having "Advanced" in the title or including particularly difficult dances outside of the standard repetoire)
Total of 2 classes including 1 Arbeau, 1 16th c. Italian
Total of 2 instructors

Metod/Lecture Classes (defined as courses that were largely lecture or discussion or whose primary focus was on style or reconstruction rather than choreography)
Total of 11 classes including 3 15th c. Italian, 3 16th c. Italian, 1 mixed, 1 burgundian, 1 Inns, 1 Arbeau, 1 ECD
Total of 4 instructors

A few comments:

First, I was very surprised by the seeming lack of ECD classes, but a lot of that is accounted for by the fact that Branles, basic ECD, and easier 15th c. Italian dances were frequently mixed together in beginner-level classes and counted under the Mixed genre heading.  Still, I think we may be a little Italian heavy (I can't believe I just wrote that...) and would do well to try to have some more specialized ECD classes in the intermediate heading next year.

Second, it concerns me that a very small number of instructors are carrying a disproportionate amount of the teaching load.  Although I was able to teach the exact number of courses that I wanted to (three), I did speak with several folks at war who either (a) wanted to teach, but couldn't or (b) taught one class and would have like to teach two or three.  I think it would make sense to consider some sort of system whereby everyone is guaranteed at least one or two classes before anyone gets ten.  This would also help protect us in the event that someone who is schedule to teach many classes has an emergency and is unable to attend Pennsic.  It would also spread around the teaching load, and would open up more spots for new teachers who may not feel welcomed to submit.  

Finally, thank you to everyone who taught what we called "Method" classes.  I think it's wonderful to expand dance beyond simply performing choreography.  I hope we continue to see many of these classes at future Pennsics.

In Service,
Katherine Mercer

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