[SCA-Dance] Dance games and how we dance, was Re: Maltese Branle vs SCA Maltese

Tiffany Brown teffania at gmail.com
Tue Oct 11 19:44:10 EDT 2011

On 12 October 2011 05:09, David Learmonth <david.a.learmonth at gmail.com>wrote:

> But yes, I would propose that no other bransle quite fills the role that
> Turkish does in my toolbox for new people.  (my rough opinions)
I'm from Lochac, so I've only vague memories of the sca "maltese bransle" at
pennsic a number of years ago, but there is a wealth of bransles in Arbeau
that aren't commonly danced, and I'm sure you could find one to fit this

Appart from the already suggested shoes impro variant, take a look at the
hay bransle and the montarde bransle. Both are quite simple, and fairly
flexible about timings - new people who are off beat won't stuff up the rest
of the set.  And more importantly I think both are fun, especially montarde
which combines copy the leader improvisation with haying under everyone's

 Both are limited by musicians/recordings in that they require a number of
repeats of a section equal to the number of dancers, although you can take
an english country dance approach and ask for sets equal to the number of
repeats on your recording/sheet music if you are in an inflexible situation
(although I think It's more fun to have a slightly longer line than the
standard 3 of most recordings, more than 6 may be unwieldy). Also limited
because you need to find musicians who know it or recording of it, and these
are less common than for other bransles.

I also rue that simple other bransles like the double (so simple, but a
great chance to show off your divisions) or scottish (a suite of 2 bransles,
not 2 parts alternating)  aren't more commonly danced, but they aren't in
the same category of fun as the montarde and hay. The actual maltese bransle
is I think a bit too tricky for the amount of fun to be had from waving your
arms in the air like a turk (or other improvisations as desired). The faster
bransles like haut barois, breton and poitiou I find a bit tricky, which
kind of destroys their usefulness to rhythmically challenged me, and makes
them less suitable for new people of mixed musicality.

Darius  (who has been thinking a lot lately about various styles of dance
> and what we might be missing in the SCA time period, or what aspects of our
> society tend to make some of our dances less feasible than they would have
> been in period, and how can we correct this?)
Me too.  I think English country dance might be so popular because it's not
courtly dance - it's groups of nobility in the countryside, dancing for
interaction, not to impress the court, not having professional lessons, not
to show off their skill.  It assumes a medium level of expertise - not a
total beginner, but not someone who regularly practises devoutly either.

Burgundian Basse Dance and 16th C Italian dance, by contrast seem to be
courtly forms, skill in dance earning you the ability to do certain
desireable things (court a lady, get invited to the ball and introduced to
business contacts) and also being a valued skill, so there was a real social
benefit to dancing well, one that we really don't have today.


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