pennsicdance: Re: Fringyness

David Learmonth david.a.learmonth at
Thu Aug 25 22:55:25 PDT 2005

Hello.  Darius here.  I missed Pennsic this year (first time in quite
a while), so I don't know if the situation was different from previous
years (these issues have been around a while), or if it is the general
discussion area that has arisen for the past few years.  It sounds
like dancing still ran smoothly, just with some concerns over how
inviting / enjoyable it was for all groups involved (new dancers, pro
dancers, and original SCAdian occasional dancers).

I think that most issues have been raised already (although at this
current rate, I hope that the "enthusiasm" with which they are
discussed remains at a civil level), and that we all realize the
difficult balance we have to maintain in our field of expertise. 
Keeping all three major parties happy / satisfied with the Pennsic
dancing is difficult, and only becomes more so as the gap widens (the
elite become more skilled, more dance knowledge is uncovered /
reconstructed, while we will always have new people coming in, and
older SCAdians requesting OOP).

I know that friends of mine have even felt excluded, just because all
of us dancers who love to dance together were trying to get in our
dances while we could, and thus people not in the circle were not
getting asked to dance as often.  Even this can happen, with it being
barely our fault whatsoever, as the dance teacher community grows. 
(for reference, this was at KWDS Texas, although it was a wonderful
event, and no fault of the people involved.  They still had fun, but
were more comfortable in the late night pickup dancing)  I suppose
that some people will always be more comfortable in open dancing,
while some of us really love the chance to aim for a proper cultural
experience of a particular period.

Anyway, so in general, I have always been in the group that just
enjoys dragging in new people from the sidelines and making sure that
they have a good time, often with rushed impromptu teaching when
appropriate (to avoid slowing / stopping the dance flow).  I know that
several of us have that goal when it comes to dance, even though we do
so love to just dance with experts all the time.

I dislike having divisions between the barn and the dance floor, and
am not sure why there seems to be a bit of a different dynamic at the
dance tent when it comes to outsiders, but I do believe it is there. 
Even with the store and such being closed at night, I think that the
barn seems to get more traffic, or at least more people staying.  Both
forums seem to have their place, however we should strive to make sure
that they aren't labelled inappropriately (neither group should
inadvertently put the other down).  Probably signs at either end to
indicate the night's activities would also be good.

Sorry to be longwinded.  In general I share the opinions / goals of
Lorelei and of Gwommy.  I mainly wanted to show support, and think
that their purpose is just.  I do not know for sure what to do about
OOP, other than to make certain that the old SCAdians don't label it
too much as the "only fun dancing" and to make people aware of what
they are learning.  I enjoy it as well, and it is a list which does
not appear to be growing, unlike period dances.  I have mainly just
been using OOP as a tool to get old SCAdians dancing again, at which
point I hit them with Petit Vriens and other simple, fun, period
dances, with the attempt to convert or expand their repertoire.  (oh,
and they were also some of the first dances I, and others learned, who
now learn and teach plenty of period dances.  So at least for lovers
of dance, we can shift our focus as we learn more, even if we enjoy
those dances occasionally)

Thanks for listening.  I think that as a group we have done a
spectacular job, and that the people contributing are wonderful.  To
build and take down a dance floor each year, schedule so many classes,
and run dance for every night of Pennsic (including some lovely
parties) is an impressive endeavour, and that we should be proud of
our accomplishments.  Pennsic is an excellent forum for our art, and I
hope that we can maintain a balance that will keep everyone happy,
while excluding as few as possible.


Disclaimer:  the term "old SCAdians" is in no way meant to be
derogatory.  It is meant to represent those whom enjoyed dance in
their early years (10+ years ago), but fell out of the main dance
stream later, thus possibly trapped in their original set of OOP and
some period dances.  Not all people from this time got stuck, nor did
they all decide to forgo adopting new dances as our knowledge grew. 
(it is surprising how many current baronesses and officers, who don't
seem to dance much now, were once the dance teacher in their local

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