[SCA-Dance] Bassedanses

Justin du coeur jducoeur at gmail.com
Mon Jun 24 15:50:52 EDT 2013

On Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 2:20 PM, D. Peters <dpeters at panix.com> wrote:

> On Mon, 24 Jun 2013, Tim McDaniel wrote:
> > Did someone find a magic spell to make Burgundian basse dances
> > interesting?
> Actually, I've *always* found Burgundian bassedanses interesting--but I'm
> more of a musician than a dancer, and I love fifteenth-century
> instrumental music.  The first time that I saw Casseulle, danced to a
> four-part Spagna setting, I was hooked :-)
> (And it's always seemed to me that an imaginative dancer can make just
> about any type of dance interesting, in any case....)

Actually, this raises an interesting question: why *do* we seem to disagree
with our period forebears about Burgundian dance?

This ties into one of my commonplace observations about period: people are
basically people, and period people weren't *that* different from us.  For
example, my rule of thumb in cooking is that, if my reconstructed recipe
tastes vile, I probably did it wrong.  Of course, I don't judge that solely
by myself -- tastes vary -- but if *everybody* thinks it's vile then I'm
pretty suspicious.  I almost always find an alternate interpretation that
works better.

The same logic seems to apply for dance.  While there were many subtle
forces in period dance, by and large people did it because it was
enjoyable.  I've seen little evidence that dances tended to survive if they
weren't at least *somewhat* fun.

So if we seem to consistently find Burgundian dance dull, that sings out to
me that we're doing *something* wrong.  Could be the reconstructions; could
be that we're being too rigid in the interpretations of the style, not
giving ourselves enough latitude to mess around; might even be that our
*mindset* is simply wrong -- we might be over-thinking dances that were
deliberately simple so that people could socialize during them.

I'm honestly unsure what the answer is here.  It just occurs to me that
these dances are attested by several different period manuals, so we have
good reason to believe they were popular.  If that's the case, then I have
to believe that the period dancers didn't find them a chore.  So if we *do*
find them dishpan-dull, we're probably doing something wrong...

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