[SCA-Dance] How were dances taught?

Marianne Perdomo marianne at historiaviva.org
Tue Jul 14 12:17:37 EDT 2009

For what it's worth... Esquivel de Navarro gives some intriguing glimpses
into this subject. his book is slightly post-period, being from the 1630's,
I think.

Going from memory he talks of dance schools and dance masters and of great
dancers. He says, IIRC, that dance classes usually start at 7pm, and 8pm in
summer. They are for men, as he makes a point of avoiding potential trouble
by keeping women apart, even if they are relatives of one of the students. A
judge or some such may walk in, and suspect something worse.
This to me has two implications... men would have to dance with men, and...
women would have to learn elsewhere. A hint of where that may be is given at
some other point in the text, when he says it's very important for a dance
teacher to look neat and clean always, as otherwise people wouldn't hire you
to teach their children. So maybe that's where girls learnt to dance. :) Mom
or some other relative, of course, is probably another possibility, and they
needn't be mutually exclusive.

Another interesting bit is that he implies that the dance masters are the
musicians, too. He contemplates the possibility that another dancemaster may
enter your academy. In that case you are to salute him, unless you're in the
middle of playing a piece. In that case, it'll wait, unless of course it's
some authority figure...
A visiting dance master may sometimes wan to play, too, so it's polite to
offer him one of your extra instruments (since it's wise to have several
ready just in case).

He also speaks of a "usual" curriculum of dances: with so many variations of
this and that, but I don't remember which ones and I don't have the book
with me.



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