[SCA-Dance] Branle de l'Official

Alex Clark alexbclark at pennswoods.net
Thu Jan 25 19:28:07 EST 2007

At 07:41 AM 1/23/2007 -0500, Benjamin Pung wrote:
>Katherine Mercer was teaching Official with kicks this past Pennsic,
>and it went over very well. It makes for a more interesting (and
>accurate) dance, and also clears up some timing issues with the jump.
>After the singles, there are four beats to do the two kicks and jump:
>1: Kick with the right foot.
>2: Kick with the left foot, turning toward your partner. During this
>beat you must also set hands on waist and shoulders for the jump.
>3: Ladies jump.
>4: Ladies land.

Unfortunately, this version puts the beginning of the jump at the same 
moment which Arbeau marks as the end of the jump. In addition, it has a 
turn and a use of hands that are not supported by Arbeau's instructions, 
and it switches feet for the kicks.

>In the version that I was originally taught, all there was to do
>during these four beats was the jump. This means that either the lady
>is in the air for a long time (unlikely unless one or both partners
>is unusually athletic),

Arbeau points out that this jump and lift can become very difficult in the 
absence of an effort by both partners. It also seems likely that such 
vigorous dances would have been done mainly by youngsters (like the branle 
de Bourgoigne and the branle du hault Barrois). Besides, I suspect that 
what you mean by "unusually athletic" is what would have been usual for 
dancers in Arbeau's time. Not that many people had desk jobs or spent their 
free time on video games or web-surfing.

>or there is extra time where nothing is
>happening. The long jump is helpful when doing the partner switching
>version, but of course Arbeau says nothing about switching partners
>in this dance.
>In this reconstruction there is no problem with the partners kicking
>each other. The first kick is executed before the turn, and the
>second kick comes during the turn, with the foot that is on the
>trailing side of the turn. I do this kick slightly to one side, and
>in fact leave my foot out there to brace myself for the lift.

 From Arbeau's instructions on the side of the tabulation, the only turn is 
where the men turn to the right, and it seems that this turn is only useful 
if it is done at the beginning of the "four beats" marked for the lift, 
that is to say, at the end of the last single. Since you are describing a 
different turn, one that is not in Arbeau's instructions, then it makes 
little difference how well it works in practice, unless it is specifically 
intended to be a modern variation. And if it is intended to be a variation, 
then it would be appropriate to mention that you are discussing a modern 
variation and not a period dance.

Alex Clark/Henry of Maldon 

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