[SCA-Dance] Did pavanes go away?

Mary Railing mrailing2 at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 7 22:40:43 EDT 2011

All Arbeau has to say about steps for the pavan is that it is two simples and one double forward and two simples and one double backward. He then goes on to describe how to do a conversion if one doesn't want to dance backward. When Capriol complains that this is too solemn and slow, Arbeau refers briefly to dividing up the double to create livelier, improvisational passages in the Passomezzo and Spanish Pavan. On the basis of this, I have been encouraging people to do improvised solos during Carolingian pavan, instead of just circling their partner.

The Quadran pavan, given in the Inns of Court manuscripts, using sideways singles, is little more than the ssd forward /ssd back pavan sequence in Arbeau. However, some dances in that collection come close to being what Scadians want a choreographed pavan to be. Any one verse of Earl of Salisbury would be plausible on that basis, but as noted below, the whole dance strains plausibility. That's why I said it *almost* passes muster. 

There is one pavan listed in Italian sources, Pavana Matthei (in Il Ballarino). It has a very brief pavan section followed by a series of triple time variations. The pavan section consists of two steps forward and a seguito ordinario, followed by two steps backward and two riprese to the right, repeated three times.

Note that all three of these sources assume that the pavan is danced by advancing and retreating, rather than just a straight procession forward.

As noted below, the place to look for something like a more elaborate pavan is in the Italian balletti. Most balletti involve changes in tempo, but there are some, like Contrapasso in Due and Se Pensando al Partire, that don't. Such dances, although they are described as being for one couple, can be danced by a line of couples in an SCA setting.

If we had known more about what we were doing, we could have (and still could) come up with SCA choreographies for dances that don't require a lot of footwork, but still look like court dances, rather than country dances. Out of all the pavan choreographies in the Ansteorra Kingdom Dance Workshop, Pavana Venetiana is the most plausible, being, like Earl of Salisbury, not wrong in any of its parts, just perhaps a bit much altogether. The ones I am happy to see gone are dances like Duchess Rondallynn's pavan, with its goofy hand gestures, or Mannschaft, with its partner swapping.


From: "tmcd at panix.com" <tmcd at panix.com>
To: sca-dance at sca-dance.org
Sent: Saturday, August 6, 2011 11:42 PM
Subject: Re: [SCA-Dance] Did pavanes go away?

"Wm..." said he was used to Reply-To going to the list, so I'm taking
the liberty of forwarding his reply to the list:


Ummm- granted I'm WAY out of the loop these days... I think the
problem with SCA choreographed pavanes are that they are usually much
more complex than pavanes found "in nature."  Earl of Salisbury's
Pavan was a Mabel Dolemitch "reconstruction" (more like a
choreography) based on the Quadran Pavan from the Inns of Court
Manuscripts. I personally love the dance, but I think as relatively
simple as it is, it still takes too many liberties with the pavane
form found in extant manuscripts.  (I hope it's still grandfathered in
for event dancing... )

As an over-generalization, perhaps with a grain of truth, most pavanes
in period were simple processional dances.  The complexity most dance
enthusiasts crave (and the complexity given to many SCA choreographed
pavanes) belongs more fittingly in the Italian repertoire, and since a
lot of scholarship and teaching has made a number of both 15th and
16th Century Italian dances popular, it has taken dance in that

Wm... (voice from the past)
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