pennsicdance: Dance Suggestions

Jane & Mark Waks waks at
Thu Aug 25 06:01:06 PDT 2005

I've been thinking about this ever since the meeting at the dance tent, 
and Adele has reminded me about this point:

annikki at wrote:
> SCA choreography - when someone looks at many dances from a particular time period 
> (also in SCA range) and creates a similar but unique dance.  Think making an outfit based 
> on ideas from several paintings, maybe some text reference too, of a certain region and time.

Actually, let's be honest here: SCA choreography is a hot potato because 
it is very hard to place on the authenticity spectrum. On the one hand, 
we have (not enough) dances that are faithful and well-executed attempts 
to choreograph something that matches a particular period style, as 
described above. I actually consider those pretty high-authenticity, and 
fair game for almost any SCA dance context if they're done well.

On the other hand, we have the classic SCA melange, mixing multiple 
dance styles into a single dance, winding up with something that isn't 
really recognizably period. These tend to be the work of relatively 
naive dancers, who haven't completely internalized how the individual 
period styles worked. Some of them are very old and deeply embedded in 
SCA culture -- Mannschaft is the most conspicuous example, but there are 
many others. In general, I consider most of these to be pretty 
thoroughly GOOP.

Somewhere in the middle you have the speculative "best-guess" 
reconstructions that aren't provably either wrong or right. It's harder 
to say where they fall on the authenticity spectrum. At the moment, I 
tend to place Quen Quer Que as a bit better and La Regina as rather 
worse, but all of these dances are matters of inference from weak evidence.

Just to complicate all of this, our understanding gradually evolves. 
Dances that seemed like a good idea at the time like Mannschaft and La 
Regina turn out to be pretty weak when examined through the lens of 
decades more experience. And as a final kicker, there's a lot of 
subjectivity involved. I've seen SCA Maltese / Turkish Bransle placed 
anywhere from being one of the worst to one of the best SCA inventions, 
depending on who is looking at it and exactly what variation you're 
talking about. (Signy's original choreography is pretty decent; the way 
it's usually done, not so much so.) And different people have very 
different opinions about the appropriateness of SCA inventions in general.

The result is that we really have to treat SCA choreography as a 
spectrum, and not a simple point. Some of them are often genuinely 
appropriate, even in a medium-high authenticity environment. Some are 
dreadful, and really deserve to be deprecated and slowly killed off. So 
we should be leery of the tendency to lump them all together...

				-- Justin

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