pennsicdance: Balls, Advanced/Beginner, etc, etc...

annikki at annikki at
Thu Sep 2 16:28:14 PDT 2004

 I'll try to make sure I've got all my quoting done right!  This has some responses to several 
posts, but I'm also trying to bring most of these thoughts different people have presented 
into one possible suggestion...

Gregory said:
> This has been tried in previous years, and doesn't seem to work...
> people just won't show up in large numbers until o-dark-30. It's worth

Thank you for reminding me Greg!  The moment you mentioned it, I remembered talking 
about this very thing with you way back then.  I have a bad memory for negative experiences 
(no one showed for the first hour or so of party because it started at 8...BLAH, YUCK!.... two 
years down the road, totally forgotten it, just remember fun dancing).

Mara said:
> A note for scheduling ... I think the rationale behind putting the
> 16th-c Italian party (regardless of its format) on Wednesday night was
> the idea that the session with the least mass appeal ought to take the
> slot opposite Midnight Madness.

I believe you are right on that.  Initially, the 16th-c 'event' was the Caroso Ball, which 
interests an even smaller crowd.  Now, it looks like it's going to become a regular party, with 
a slightly broader appeal. So, does the general dancing population _want_ an option for 
dancing during Midnight Madness?  Or is Midnight Madness such a big pull that only 16th-c 
Italian fanatics are willing to miss it?  Or, is East Realm court going to be shorter from now 
on that the general dancing population is able to dance in the barn earlier, making this all a 
moot point? 

Speaking of balls...

Lyev said:
>  Who would be interested in a "Dance Geeks Ball"? 

Do we even have TIME for another ball?  :}  It'd have to be sometime when the barn is open 
for everyone who does easier things, wouldn't it?  And I'd hate to add anything else that 
would -take away- from what there already is.

But, on to the really serious stuff that I wanted to bring up, on to the concept of advanced 
dancing to really challenge those of us who want that kind of challenge...

Domenico said:
> as for the advanced stuff, i am of the opinion that
> advanced dancers come with advanced abilities to seek
> out dance opportunities. i learned how to do Gracca
> Amorosa in a friend's camp! 

Sometimes, yes, you can do that.  Sometimes you can also go off to the side during dance, 
ignore the music going on, and learn something, like Del did to teach me La Spagnoletta. 
It's not really that great if you want to do a lot of dances like that.  Flat, open space is good 
for not killing yourself tripping over divets, tent stakes, or small children runing around -- 
most flat space at Pennsic is taken up with shades, tents, and everything else.  If the sun is 
oppresively beating down or it starts raining, you're kind of out of luck (that's what happened 
when several of us went to Del's camp to practice dances before Elayna's party).  And then 
there's just the minor difficulty of finding a boombox with batteries.

Lowrie, I think, feels the same frustration that I do on this matter.  She said:

> to learn. That's right, I learned Maraviglia and Gracca from Fritz,
> both really late in the night, at Pennsic and KWD. But we don't have
> to make it so hard for advanced dancers to learn new things. Maybe
> some people are not socialites and would prefer to learn things
> without having to buddy up to a teacher. I, for one, would like to
> have a proper advanced Galliard class, instead of sneaking in a lesson
> or 2 from friends each war. I'm not saying we should have 25% of our


> There really isn't that
> much venues to learn really hard/complex dances, unless you live in
> Boston, NYC, or can go to KWD (and the next one is in Australia.)

I'd like to add to that the fact that there aren't places to _practice_ the challenging dances 
that we do learn in such places.  For example, I loved learning Brando di Cales from Master 
Sion at KWDS III and one of the Terp events.  A different reconstruction of it was taught at 
KWDS IV, too.  But where do we really get a chance to _do_ things like that?  They could be 
taught to beginners -- I tried teaching it once, at a Dancer's Revolt -- but is it really a good 
thing to do, when they could be learning something for which they're more likely to have an 
opportunity to dance? 

There are tons of really neat reconstructions out there that simply aren't part of the Pennsic 
repetoire.  I'm not sure if they should be, given the limits of time to dance, the continual 
influx of new people, the expanding Pale, and so forth.  But having these dances done at 
least a little more often, I think, would be a nice tribute to the people who wrote these things 
down hundreds of years ago and the people who spent hours more recently trying to 
figure.out what they might have been like.  

But, of course, we really do need to encourage the folks who are just starting out, who want 
to do the dances that are actually done regularly at Pennsic and possibly at events back 
home.  So when the heck would we be able to fit time for advanced work in?

Judith said:
> Having Ball prep as the last class of the day is really important
> because it allows the class to go as long as the students need it to
> (there were several nights when we danced until 7pm instead of 6pm,
> because the students really wanted that extra practice).  Personally,

So Ball Prep doesn't always end that late, though, and it does not happen Wednesday and 
Thursday.  And with the parties starting at 9pm, with set-up starting around 8pm, that leaves 
an hour open on LATE ball prep nights, sometimes two hours, and 3 hours after the Ball 

and Lyev said:

> By custom, the 9am and 5pm slots on most days were held for last
> minute additions, and some people did take advantage of that.

I'll ignore the 9am slot, as I doubt that's feasible for my idea.  The only one that I've heard of 
over the past two years of this was one woman scheduling to teach Flamenco on a few 
occasions, which goes against the "no post-First-Edition Playford before midnight" concept 
that we've been trying to keep to.  Beyond the OOP and the extended Ball Prep, are there 
others utilizing this time?  How necessary is it?

So here's the idea.  Most of the people with a big interest in doing harder dances are 
probably going to be able to pick them up at a speed more like that of the walk-throughs 
done during evening dance or refreshers at dance practice.  More than anything, we need 
time to practice these dances so they are more likely to remain in our brains.  That doesn't 
take a lot of time overall -- certainly there's time in those evening empty slots mentioned 
above.  Could we not have an advanced dancing _practice_ time set up for the tent?  This is 
similar to what several of us were hoping to do Wednesday after the scheduled classes, to 
practice neat stuff for Elayna's party.  However, the Flamenco dance popped in.  We went to 
Del's camp to practice, but, as mentioned before, campsites aren't ideal.

There used to be complaints of "There's too many advanced classes, it's too elitist!" going 
around, which led to our focus on beginner's classes.  Now we're at fewer ones, and we still 
have beginners showing up, even when the class descriptions specifically say "Advanced" or 
"Experienced."  I suspect that if this is listed as a class, we'd still have the problem of less 
apt dancers showing up and getting frustrated at the level and rate of things being taught.  
Could such time be blocked off without even going in the schedule?  I know that Etienne's 
vigiling last year blocked off time in the dance tent without being on the class list, so it's not 
a completely unheard of thing.


* it's not a class, it's a practice -- the pace would be much faster than normal with experience 
and aptitude necessary

* it's not during normal class times -- our fantastic, nurturing beginning tracks that prepare 
new and occasional dancers will remain, as will time for the intermediate classes that benefit 
the majority of dancers

* it's a small enough group of folks who probably already teach that there really doesn't need 
to be any one person in charge.  One person might be teaching Brando di Cales one 
minute, and 15 minutes later someone's showing off galliard variations.  Nothing terribly 
scheduled, just time for "jamming in the dance tent" where we actually have a decent place 
to do so.

* it's not a terribly convenient time -- but I suspect that works in its favor.  The people this is 
for, as Domenico said, "seek out dance opportunities."  Well, here I am, seeking a possible 
opportunity.  No, it doesn't get _everyone_, but there might be enough willing to eat a faster 
dinner, bring dinner to the tent, or eat dinner at a different time in order to get this chance.

* it provides the opportunity for a lot of the work people have put into reconstructions that 
aren't necessarily part of the normal repetoire to thrive

I'm hoping this makes some sense.  I'm not sure, it does.  But at this point, I'm 30 minutes 
late for heading out to the last Cynnabar dance practice I get to go to for the year (evil early 
mornings during school year!).... so I'm done writing and off to dancing.


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