[SCA-Dance] Bassedanses

Monique Rio mrio at umich.edu
Wed Jun 26 17:34:40 EDT 2013

I totally agree with Justin. People are people. If a dance is hard to
learn /and/ dull either we're doing it wrong or missing some context.

I suspect a fair amount of the problem people have with bassedanse is
with the music. Recordings have embellished upper lines that dancers
struggle to ignore. Musicians struggle to resist the urge to play the
written out, more exciting non-melody lines when playing the dance.

It's something I've been wanting to work on for a while.


On Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 3:50 PM, Justin du coeur <jducoeur at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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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