[SCA-Dance] looking for a few good dances to start our group

Alex Clark alexbclark at pennswoods.net
Thu May 15 18:00:50 EDT 2008

At 12:02 AM 5/14/2008 -0500, tmcd at panix.com wrote:
>On Sun, 11 May 2008, Alex Clark <alexbclark at pennswoods.net> wrote:
> > At 04:09 PM 5/8/2008 -0500, Tim McDaniel wrote:
> > > > & are there any others that are simple for beginners?
> > >
> > >I've always been fond of Half Hannigan for a warmup.
> > >- it's vigorous without being exhausting (if your music isn't too
> > >    long)
> > >- it's the prototypical English Country Dance, consisting of nothing
> > >    BUT doubling, siding, and arming
> >
> > On the contrary, this does not make it a prototype. It is more like
> > an eviscerated ECD.
>There's no more evidence that it was designed by cutting down a dance
>than there is that it was built minimally.  It does practice the basic
>steps (other than set and turn single).

I wasn't talking about any specific approach taken by its choreographer. My 
point is that as a modern dance it cannot be a prototype for early dances.

> > >- it's a mixer, so it's good for "how do you do?" or a brief "hi,
> > >    Jane, long time no see!"
> >
> > I advise against teaching this modern dance to beginners.
>I see that the Terpsichore booklet is misleading when it states the
>usual SCA version is "Playford 1651" when the source at
>or <http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/playford_1651/050small.html>
>shows it as Longways for as many as will.
>I'm not at all good at interpreting Playford: is there a good
>reconstruction that my brief Googling didn't show?
><http://members.ozemail.com.au/~grayn1/DDances.html#Halfe Hanikin>
>looks basically plausible to me: you have to get #1 man and #N woman
>"offside" and then get them back in dancing with the same sex as
>Playford specifies.  But it doesn't state exactly how #1 man and #N
>woman get offside and the rest progress, and then get back in, and the
>ways coming to my mind right now feel awkward to me.

As I understand it, it's like there's an intermediate place between each 
two integer places all the way around the circuit: top center and bottom 
center, and 1.5, 2.5, etc. along both sides of the line. In the first 
change, the first man goes up and right to the top center place while the 
last woman goes to the bottom center place, and all others go to the 
nearest halfway place along the line (men up, women down). For example, the 
first woman goes to the 1.5 place. In the next change, each goes to the 
next integer place, so that for example the first woman is in the second 
place, and the second man is in the first place.

>Just to make sure: does the music in the facimile match the music as
>I believe it's usually played in the SCA?

Yes and no. As usual, Playford did not specify repeats within the music 
notation, so as far as the music notation is concerned there is no 
difference. However, the instructions clearly indicate three times over 
that the second strain is played long enough for "sides all _._ Turne your 
owne _:_" plus taking your new places (which, in my experience, needs about 
one beat). The confusing part is that this is done to two playings of the 
second strain of the music, and that strain looks at a glance like it takes 
twice as long as each of these figures usually takes. However, when you get 
to know the music it turns out that the second half of the strain as 
written is actually the same as the first half, except that the first three 
notes are ornamented. This provides a perfectly plausible way to reconcile 
the figures and the music, by assuming that the second half is actually an 
ornamented second playing of the strain. This strikes me as the smallest 
and the most reasonable assumption by which they can be reconciled.

The music as I have usually encountered it in the SCA has the second strain 
as written played twice, so that it amounts to four playings of the second 
strain with each second playing having a few ornaments added. This fits the 
modern Half Hannigan with sides twice and arms twice, but it does not fit 
the Playford instructions.

Henry of Maldon/Alex Clark 

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