pennsicdance: Musicians and Venues and GOOP, Oh My!

Alex Clark alexbclark at
Sat Sep 3 09:10:11 PDT 2005

At 06:37 PM 9/2/2005 -0500, Steven Bush (Etienne) wrote:
>Henry of Maldon wrote:
>>Sounds good to me. That means that nobody is allowed to teach a "clap, 
>>clap, don't clap" version of Gathering Peascods in a very large circle, 
>>right? And no mixer branles except the branle du Chandelier ou de la Torche.
>I did say *Grossly* OOP.  While some of us may find a few of the dance 
>variations (bastardizations) gross, I do not consider most of them 
>GOOP.  Besides, we know that some of this happened in period, since the 
>dance manuals tell us not to do them. :-)

Which of these deviations from dance instructions in the primary sources, 
as listed above, did the primary sources tell us not to do? The "GOOP" 
version of Gathering Peascods that I described is based on a selectively 
hyperliteral, and selectively vague, reading of Playford: a thing that 
would hardly happen except in a modern context where dances are being 
reconstructed from books. And I know of no evidence for the adaptation of 
branles by turning them into mixers.

I suppose that you meant that there was more to period dancing than how the 
primary sources tell us that it should be done. But that is not what I was 
talking about. These are specific examples of specific ways that dances are 
altered. I have nothing against doing steps and dances in ways that the 
primary sources complain about; sometimes I even recommend it. But this 
does not give equal validity to things for which there is no support in 
primary sources.

>>But seriously, before we make or perpetuate any kind of rules against 
>>GOOP dances, maybe we ought to stop and think whether we have a good 
>>dividing line between GOOP and SOOP or SPRAY (Strictly Period, 
>>Reconstructed Accurately, Yay!). Can we really tell which is which?
>I think that there are several dances that we can agree are GOOP.  As for 
>the rest, obviously it is whatever *I* feel should be left out. ;-) 
>;-)  In reality though, it will ultimately be up to Adele (though I doubt 
>she will make this decision in a vacuum.)

And that is why we should not have such a rule. Not because of Adele 
personally, but because we are unlikely to find *anyone* who is well 
qualified to wield such a broad and crude sort of authority. (And a 
committee would hardly be better qualified than an individual.)

>>Also, I doubt that making precise rules is necessarily an effective way 
>>to promote more period activity. On the contrary, any unfortunate 
>>combination of precision and strictness of the rules could result in more 
>>people digging in their heels all around, leading to a multiplicity of 
>>relatively narrow factions. If that goes very far, we'll end up with 
>>people on both extremes calling the moderates "SOOP Nazis".
>Unfortunately, there is no perfect solution (except in my own little 
>world.)  I did say that this is a compromise, which means that no one will 
>be completely happy.  If we cannot meet somewhere in the middle, the 
>dancers will become more fractionalized.  Personally, I think that is a 
>Bad Thing (TM).

This is only a compromise on the sub-question of what the content of a rule 
should be, not the main question of whether the problem should be solved by 
a rule. And this specific proposed rule could be an example of why we 
should consider doing without a rule. It would be messy to try to uphold 
this rule in real life. To address that problem, the rule could be toned 
down to say that for "GOOP" dances the musicians (live or boxed) will be 
asked to start playing as soon as the formation looks to be ready, without 
allowing time for teaching. But if that is all that the rule says, then I 
would question the need to make a rule of it at all; a guideline or 
"custom" might work as well or better.

Alex Clark/Henry of Maldon 

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