[SCA-Dance] Gresley: Grene Gynger

tmcd at panix.com tmcd at panix.com
Mon Jun 4 01:58:46 EDT 2012

Are Sarah Scroggie and Richard Schweitzer on this list?  I think they
are Mistress Emma Dansmeyla and Master Martin Bildner.  I'll try to
send them copies if I can find their addresses again.

I took their Gresley class at Terpsichore.  (See
http://rendance.gyges.org/ for music and steps; the handout is not
there yet.)

My local dance group has been indulging me in teaching a few.  I'm
trying them because I hope that the dances feel English Countryish
enough to get some popularity -- at least more ECDish than Italian
ren or basse dance!

People have seemed OK with the ones I've tried.  I think the tunes are
attractive, including the ones that Martin composed.

I tried Grene Gynger tonight for the first time.  It was quite easy to
teach from their handout, especially because they give top-view
diagrams showing the dancers and the patterns on the floor.  I did
find it convenient to go thru the Bar column and translate to beat


This is part of the text from the handout with my beat counts and
notes.  "Redacted from transcription by David Fallow in 'The Gresley
Dance Colelction, c. 1500', RMA Research Chronicle #29,
1996. ... Reconstructed February 2002 by Richard Schweitzer and Sarah

#13 Green Gynger
[Their rendition has a 4-beat intro and repeats 3 times.]

8  duble trace
   Trett and retrett and 3 singles forward.
8  and a hertt in the end
   2 singles moving away from your partner and 1 double turning over
   your outside shoulder and circling around to face your partner
   [A pavane set to trace a heart pattern on the floor]
0  Cherwell thy wyne ++
   ++ This might be a kiss, or a mimed clinking of glasses.
   As it seemed to be inconsequential, no music has been alloted for
   this. D6

2  After the end of the trace, rak both on way
   2 slip steps down the hall holding leading hands
   ["leading" in the sense of them holding hands on the down-the-hall
   side, in the direction they were moving.   If they are proper, it's
   the lord's right hand clasping the lady's left hand.]
2  and in the end turn bak to bak
   Turn back to back still holding hands
   [so you're facing the wall]
2  then rake ayen bak to bak
   2 slip steps up the hall
   [holding leading hands still: the clasped hands point in the
   direction of the top of the hall]
2  and in the end turne face to face
   Turn face to face
4  then 3 singlis, ethir contrary oder
   Turning over your own left shoulder double away from your partner.
   [if proper, the lord is walking towards the presence, the lady
   turn to face your partner
   [lord facing down the hall, lady facing up]
4  and three bak ayen
   Return with a double meeting left shoulders.
   Turn to face your partner.
   [back to the wall]
4  Then eithir retrett from odir 3 singlis
   Double backwards away from your partner
   [towards the walls]
4  Then come togeder
   Double forward to meet your partner again
8  and make a hertt ayen
   Turn to face down the hall, 2 singles moving away from your partner
   and 1 double turning over your outside shoulder and cirgling around
   to face up the hall again
   [A pavane set to walk a heart pattern again, but this one down the
   hall, but you turn at the end to face up the hall]

Here are my notes and our adaptations.


   duble trace
   and a hertt in the end
   Cherwell thy wyne
   After the end of the trace, rak both on way

I agree with their reconstruction -- start the dance with a trace and
then a heart -- but for a slightly different reason.

They figure this as the start of the dance ipso facto.  They then have
a problem explaining away "Cherwell thy wyne".

If you look at plate 1 of Fallow's article, you see that the text that
he put in the first lines of 20, 21, and 22 are actually shown as
being in the margin, and everything he writes after that for each
dance is the body of the work.  This makes sense of many of the
transcriptions, where Fallow transcribed it as "trace [line break]
After the end of the trace ...".  That makes no sense if they were
actually adjacent text; nowhere does it say, for example, "then come
togeder / after coming togeder ...".

I think that the header is descriptive of the dance or the type of the
trace.  I think that, in the header, "trace" means "this is one of
those dances that has a trace in it somewhere", "double trace" means
"this is one of the dances that has a double trace in it".  It's like
how I call Heralds in Love and Rufty Tufty "setty turny dances",
though they don't start with them.  This interpretation makes sense of
- 1, Esperans de tribus
- 4, Egle de tribus
- 7, Pernes on gre de duobus
all of which say "trace" right after the dance title, have some steps,
and then have "After the end of the trace".  I don't think there were
two traces, one at the start and one in the middle.  The "trace" in
the header doesn't say "do a trace at the start", but "warning! trace

That is, I interpret the header of each dance as a description of the
dance, not as part of the steps per se.

This doesn't matter with the trace because the steps begin, as usual,
with "After the end of the trace".  In either interpretation, we start
with a trace.

Where it helps is with "Cherwell thy wyne".  If I'm right, then it's
just description of some sort -- we don't have to worry about figuring
out steps for it or finding time.  Maybe it's an alternate name for
the dance, or another tune that you can dance it to, or "the song that
starts with 'cherwell thy wyne'", or something.

I thought at first that "and a hertt in the end" was just a
description of the dance, as the dance ends with a heart.  But the
ending is actually "and make a hertt AYEN", 'again', so there was one
before.  So I think that the header's "and a hertt in the end" is
saying how to do the trace, much like with "double trace".

All that to say that I agree that it begins with a trace and a heart
-- I just have different reasons that hint that there's no need to
worry about "Cherwell thy wyne".

BTW, I have no idea why traces weren't just handled like almost every
other step or pattern.


I misread the instructions for the raking.  I had them holding
*trailing* hands.  I got complaints, naturally, that it felt unnatural
to have the open end of the partners in the direction of travel.  Had
I specified leading hands, they might have found it acceptable.

Someone suggested taking two hands, as with slipping in Black Nag.
That turns out to be much worse: when you turn around to rake back,
you have to release one set of hands and turn around, and then you're
groping backwards to re-clasp hands where you can't see.  "Groping" is
the accurate verb: I think one of the dancers ended up grabbing her
partner's butt.

One of the dancers, Mistress Gwenllian ferch Maredudd, said that she
had dislocated her shoulder in the past and was nervous about injuring
it again.  In truth, dancers do occasionally forget to let go of hands
when turning a partner -- I've done it and wrenched a partner's arm.
She asked that we have no hand-holding at all.

It works fine.  It maybe saves a tad of time in not having to do
anything with hands.  Anyway, we have almost no idea what a "rake"
might be, but from the few dances I've looked at, they don't mention
hands at all, so I don't know that it contradicts Gresley.

It occurs to me now that there could be a problem with slipping
sideways back to back with no hands.  If one person accidentally
slants, they might collide with their partner.  An advantage with
grasping one hand is that you always know exactly where your partner
is.  At tonight's practice, the room was pretty empty and people
slipped parallel with the walls, so there was nothing like a problem.
Still, I'll mention the leading hand in the instructions and ask
whether people want to try it that way once.


Then there was the

2  and in the end turne face to face
4  then 3 singlis, ethir contrary oder
4  and three bak ayen

I was having a hard time calling this as Emma and Martin redacted it,
- turn face to face
- quarter turn to your left
- double away
- half turn
- double to meet again
- quarter turn to your left to face again
There's no term for that chunk of steps.  They also found it awkward.

Then I read Gresley to them.  Mistress Gwenllian immediately pointed
out that we do "turn face to face, walk three steps in opposite
directions, walk three steps backwards" all the time: siding.

So we did it as siding.  They liked it a lot, perhaps because at last
there was something familiar.

I think I'm happier with it as siding.  The author was careful to
mention two places that had turns, including that you "turne face to
face" just before this, but Martin and Emma reconstruct it with three
more turns that are not in Gresley.  Also, New Yer and Armyn give me a
feeling that Gresley dances are fond of walking backwards and
forwards, which this does, as opposed to the cross-shaped floor
pattern in Emma and Martin's version.  As a practical matter, it's
really easy to teach and call for people experienced in ECD.

This works well with the no-hands raking.  Slipping is fast; people
tended to move a little apart.  That leaves good room for siding.


Then there was the heart at the end of each repetition.  The trace
that Martin and Emma put at the start of each repetition was
- single forward
- single backward
- double forward

That advances a double towards the presence on each repetition.  You
need more space in front to start your heart.  If you're doing the
original J-shaped doubling (instead of siding), you need more room
forward for that.  You need space behind for the raking and the heart

At the start of the third repetition, we ran out of room forward.

After a few moments of discussion, someone suggested that, at the end
of a repetition, we turn and face down the set.  The dance guild head,
Sorcha n{i'} Fhaol{a'}in (alias Star), suggested doing the turn after
two reps.  I suggested that we just turn every time, as being easier
to remember.  People agreed, and it worked well.  I called it "the
Road to the Isles solution".

A normal set would become "improper".  But heck! this is Gresley,
after all, where there's serious debate about whether women even
danced, because all the three-person dances refer incessantly to
"man".  I've also heard a suggestion that in the Italian ren where the
lady goes first on even-number reps, you should dance those reps

But there's no evidence in the text for this -- this is pure practical
adapation to the space available.  Armyn, or at least Martin and
Emma's reconstruction, certainly gives me the impression that Gresley
dances are supposed to be danced in spacious halls -- each time we
ended up curving the set in a corner and doing a warped hey.


Those are rawish notes on what we did.  I'm excited by Gresley and I'm
looking forward to doing Gresley with my local group, at least the
ones we've done, and maybe more.

Danyell de Lincoln
Tim McDaniel; Reply-To: tmcd at panix.com

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