[SCA-Dance] Translating Dance Names

Jen Kennedy jen_kennedy at warpmail.net
Mon Jul 9 08:54:39 EDT 2007

On Mon, 9 Jul 2007 02:10:41 -0700, "Bruce Padget"
<bapadget at pop.mail.yahoo.com> said:
>... to the folks who did the dance, "Villanella" wouldn't have sounded
> exotic.  So is it better re-creation to use the Italian name or the
> translated name?

Wellll... maybe to some it wouldn't have sounded exotic; but to others,
I think it would. There's good evidence that most of the dances we know
were done outside their native lands. Even if the English dancers of
Italian dances were quite fluent in Italian, I'm guessing part of these
dances' appeal was their cosmopolitan, imported flavour.

I think convincing argument could be made for or against it being
"better re-creation" to name dances in their language, or in the
dancers' language. For me, however, there is more learning opportunity
in using the original names and terminology at least some of the time. I
wish to become as familiar with it as would have been a historical
Englishman who studied the dances of Italy.
> I'm sure we've all 
> heard the complaint, "I know the dances, I just don't remember the 
> names." Would it help to have the names in English?  

Most of the dancers I've known who had persistent trouble remembering
names, forgot them in English as readily as any other language,
regardless of how closely (I thought) the name related to the dance: New
Boe Peep has been known by somes as "that dance with the peeping", for

I'm starting to see in my local group's dancers a correlation between
learning styles & study skills, and ability to remember certain aspects.
Those dancers who are good with words latch onto names much more readily
than those who are more visual, auditory, or kinetic learners, most of
whom seem to recall dances by a signature set of steps, or a portion of
the tune, so will say "let's do the one that goes like [hum a bit]" or
"hey, can we work on the one where you [perform or gesture a bit]." 

What I want to do is help them make the connection between what they've
retained easily in their comfort mode, and information they need to
broaden and deepen their dance literacy. Therefore I use BOTH
original-language terminology (in various languages) and english
translations & mnemonics. And I spend a certain amount of time involving
the dancers in finding and verbalizing connections that are meaningful
to them. Often they're reluctant to do this--they would prefer just
being told what to do, I think--but where they do make a connection,
that information sticks. And having multiple languages and modalities
(e.g. visual, auditory) I think they're more likely to be able to
transfer the knowledge to another setting, than if they learned only one

It's a happy day for me when one of my relatively new dancers explains
to another one: "Spezzati are pretty much like those piva we did in
Petit Vriens--remember the dance with all the skipping at the beginning?
It's just a skippy step, like this [demonstrates]" putting together
information in English, 2 periods of Italian, and body language--AND
feeling confident enough in it to take on a teaching role.

Yout mileage, of course, may vary.

Yay Dancing!

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