Letter: "Peacocking"

[ This article appeared in volume 3 of the Letter of Dance. ]

[A while ago, I was up visiting Ar n-Eilean-ne (Newfoundland) for a University, and spent many hours chatting about dance with Miklos (the dancemaster there), and Roswitha (a dancemistress from Montreal). We got talking about the "peacocking" style described in some dances, and the fact that we'd never seen anyone actually go and look at a real peacock for insight. Well, Miklos forwarded me the following letter a couple of weeks later - Justin]

Unto Sandorfia Miklos, greetings.

Yesterday I made it to the local zoo, and they did have peacocks. I saw them walk, and I hope no one ever proves that people really did dance like that, because if so we are all going to look very silly. I didn't see any of them walk with their tails up, however, so maybe that make a difference, if they do walk with their tails up at all rather then dragging them through whatever the cows left behind.

It would be impossible to emulate, exactly, as what looks like their knees are really their ankles, so it appears as if their knees bend the wrong way. The only part that might be copied is that it looks rather slow and deliberate. They also pick up their toes in a hard way to copy -- it would be easier to do it with hands, which is what their feet resemble.

They also supply positive proof that stepping on trains is period. I watched while two of them circled each other; it looked like quite a promising dance, until one of them walked onto the other one's tail. The walked-on one fell over, and then reciprocated by standing on the first peacock's tail, while the first tried to keep going.

Actually, it doesn't sound that far off from reality. Every time I've worn a train, someone has walked on it.

Roswitha [Aka Rosina del Bosco Chiaro]

Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir (Greg Lindahl) (lindahl@pbm.com)