[SCA-Dance] Goddisses (via Lovelace)

White, John white at drexel.edu
Wed Jul 6 20:49:08 EDT 2011

If anyone has ever wondered just how this popular dance could be for more than four or maybe five couples at the most,
despite the "as many as will" description, it seems as though the Lovelace manuscript may provide the answer.

There are two basic objections to a truly long line trying to do Goddesses (Goddisses is the Lovelace spelling) - trying to
take one line all the way around the other while slipping sideways, and the heys.  In the Lovelace manuscript, both have
a possible solution.

First, the manuscript indicates that the men (and then the women) are led by the first man (or woman) around the other
gender's line (the first time when they go "halfway", it doesn't actually say that, but that the first man shouldn't go farther
than the last woman).  Playford isn't able to give any real instruction here - just indicating that the men go down behind
the women, and this has become taking hands and slipping sideways, which may limit the comfortable speed the line can
go.  Lovelace's "lead" allows doubling, walking normally, skipping, or dashing as required by the length of the line (and,
of course, decorum), removing that 4 (or 5) couple limit.

The solution is even better for the hey, though I must admit that it is not my own interpretation but a brainstorm of
Maestra Sara de Bonneville when, at KWDS8, we had reached a bit of an impasse on this point.  Lovelace's version of
the dance is for "at least 10" people, which means that 5 couples isn't a maximum but a minimum.  How, then, do you
do a hey for five or more people in 16 counts?

The clue is in the instruction:  "do the hey backwards and forwards".  Take this instruction, pair it with the pattern of
the rest of the dance (going halfway around the other gender's line, circling first one way, and then the other), and
the result is startlingly obvious:  rather than trying to complete any form of hey in 16 counts, you weave in one direction
(for the first man, that's down the set, or backwards) for 8 counts, about face regardless of where you have ended up,
and weave for 8 counts back to your place.  Simple, right?

As a further aid to this maneuver (which isn't quite as simple to do as it is to say/describe), each exchange, be it in
two counts or four counts, should be complete - in other words, you are all the way around the person you are
exchanging with even if you have to scurry to do so - so that when reversing course, there is minimal confusion as
to who you are changing with next and where the line really is.  This isn't in the instructions or even absolutely
necessary if your dancers seem to be able to make do without it, but if you decide to try this and run into trouble,
maybe this aid will help.

Playford's rigid format and inflexible copyeditors and typesetters forced the hey in his version of Goddesses into
a full single and double hey, which is impossible without some really expert maneuvering (like starting at both ends
and maybe somewhere in the middle as well!) for a long line.  Lovelace should allow you to increase the size of
your Goddesses sets even if you don't decide to use his figures rather than Playford's.

I hope you try this out and like it.  Enjoy!

        \\Dafydd Cyhoeddwr

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