[SCA-Dance] Rant: I want beats. I wants steps. I don't want measures.

Dani Zweig dani at pobox.com
Sat Feb 7 11:42:49 EST 2015

I think you want to stay with measures.  The dances in our period tend to
use figures that are a measure or half-measure long.  A dancer matches
dance figures to musical phrases, not dance steps to individual beats or

The time signature isn't just for the musicians.  It constrains the kind of
dance you are doing, and the kind of musical phrase to which you will
dance.  And it's part of the vocabulary with which the musicians and
dancers communicate.

Beats or counts are sometimes useful when dancers are learning figures that
are new to them, but they go from being an aid to being a crutch to being
an obstacle, because they are not the units that are integral to the
dances.  (Beats really get in the way in dances where the 'melody' is just
improvised - and dancers find themselves unable to dance to a different

- Dani

On Sat, Feb 7, 2015 at 1:43 AM, Tim McDaniel <tmcd at panix.com> wrote:

> I'm doing a dance-step cheat sheet at the last minute, of course.
> I'm refreshing my memory with on-line cheat sheets ...
> and I'm getting frustrated with the counts that are next to the steps.
> I'm not a musician.  I don't see the music.  I don't see the measures.
> The musicians have their sheet music, and they play from that, and of
> course they should use whatever notation works best for them, and more
> power to their elbows.
> As a dancer, I hear the beat.  I do steps to the beat.
> "Double forward".
> The music goes dum dum dum dum.
> I do step step step step (or step step step close or whatever).
> Four.
> Not two, dammit.  Not one.  Two and one are useless and confusing
> to me as a dancer.
> Earl of Essex Alman?  Couldn't give an expletive deleted about the 6/4
> time signature.  Ooze left for 3 beats, ooze right for 3 beats,
> 3 beats/steps forward, 3 back.
> If you're writing instructions with STEPS for DANCERS, please, please,
> by the blessed memory of John Banys I implore you, I want the count of
> BEATS, and any counts based on the time signature be blowed.
> And now I have to go back to writing up Heart's Disease, the common
> dance I loathe the most.  And back to multiplying other people's
> counts by 2.
> DAN iel de LIN coln is RANT ing a GAIN
> --
> Tim McDaniel, tmcd at panix.com
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