[SCA-Dance] Notes on "The Health"

tmcd at panix.com tmcd at panix.com
Mon Apr 14 01:25:33 EDT 2014

I want to bring several dances back from Terpsichore at the Tower
to the local dance group.  One is "The Health", Playford 1651, taught
by James.

(Looking at the facsimile just now: James taught the first chorus as
each middle person casting off a full circle, thereby returning to
their new place.  Is Playford's wording consistent with casting
halfway each time, so at the halfway mark everyone is exchanged with
an adjacent person, with everyone only getting home at the end of the
entire chorus?  In support, Playford doesn't say that everyone gets
back to their places halfway thru chorus 1, unlike what he clearly
writes for choruses 2 and 3.  It's not consistent with choruses 2 and
3, which has everyone back to their new place at the halfway point,
but it's therefore much more interesting.)

The circling in verse 2: James taught it as circling clockwise
halfway, set, continue circling clockwise to get home, set.  We
couldn't make it in time, and Playford ends "That back againe _:_".
So we did clockwise, set, counter-clockwise, set, and all was well.

As for circling back to back: that gave us fits.  We are mostly older
folks.  One dancer can't easily do slipping sideways.  Various dancers
have problems with joints.

We tried a few things: not holding hands but just pressing arms
against others' arms; locking elbows; tightening the circle.  Those
could help a bit but still felt awkward, and we still couldn't get
around in the time allotted.  We considered just not turning around
and doing the circle face to face, but Playford wrote "backward"
twice, and this notion wouldn't help the person who has trouble

After our last dance, someone came up with "walk like an Egyptian", or
like the old barrel of monkeys toy.  One person notably took it
further: like the position of a courtesy turn in contradance, her
right hand was forward but her left hand was in the small of her back.
She said that she found it more comfortable than extending her left
arm backwards.  With this arm position, we were all walking forward,
and it's also a tighter circle than just plain back to back.  We tried
this only in a walkthru and haven't danced it yet, but we did get a
circle of 4 back to place in plenty of time, so we expect it to work.

Playford wrote "Hands all backward": this is more "hands all, with one
hand backward each".  But we need to adapt the dance or drop it.

Danielis de Lindocolina
Tim McDaniel; Reply-To: tmcd at panix.com

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