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March 22, 2007


HL Eoin

Whirligig(long) is HARD, unless at least 50% of the set (3 couple set) are familiar with it and the rest are at least good enough dancers to go where pulled; everyone needs to have good sense of timing.
It's further complicated by there being 2 different pieces of music to which it may be performed, so someone who learned the timing by following the top line rather than counting beats might have a hard time.
And, if that weren't enough, there's a short version (the original?) and a longer (more common) one. Instead of repeating the whole dance as a unit (like Black Nag), each chorus (of 3 different ones--the middle one, the hay-for-3, is confusing because it works a little differently from usual heys) is repeated, plus an added transitional section ("cast to post"), while the verses between them are unchanged. The long version is really, really wierd, besides being hard.
I (and Edwardus) have a thus-far frustrated ambition to perform Whirligig in Trimaris.

who owns stock in Parentheses Ltd.

HL Eoin

Re: Official Bransle:

For fun (if such a thing is your idea of fun), compare the choreography you learned--which is the most common reconstruction I've seen in SCA, and hugely popular-- with the original choreography as set down by Arbeau (pen-name) in 1589. There's a transcription of the original online, and a translation in print, which I read with my pitiful French as bouncy doubles L & R ("petit saut" = "little jump"?), then 6 bouncy sideways steps to the left, then M lifts F while at the same time she does a kick with the L and R; he sets her back down, and the 6-steps-jump/lift-and-kick part is repeated.

It looks quite different, more kicky-bouncy like a Galliard... could it be a coincidence that this appears in the earliest manual that describes the Galliard?

Bransles are generally supposed to be a lower/middle-class dance, and many of them are mimes. Could Official Bransle (referring to "household officials", i.e. servants) be an imitation of the more courtly Galliard and Volta that were popular among the fitter members of the upper class?


"Sauter" is "to jump" in French. And in ballet class. Any old jumpy hop thing, on one foot or two. Pronounced "so-tay". (For some reason the food version, which I'm sure comes from the same root, has become "saw-tay." I wonder why that is. Maybe it's Southern.)

Do you suppose that in the F lift, those kicks she's doing - is he picking her up from behind, so she can kick up her skirt? If so, that's a very old beginning to a classic partnering move. Nowadays, when that's done, it pivots across his body - so it's like a double-fan-kick. And it necessarily travels - TO THE NEXT SPACE.

HL Eoin

Oops, I take it back; what I called the long version is the orginal and standard.

Official Bransle:
There was recently discussion about how the kicking and lifting could work together, on an mailing list for SCA dance geeks. I don't think any useful consensus was reached, and, as most people like it fine they way they've got used to, the question will probably remain theoretical in general. (though some of us are interested to experiment :-)

My thought is that the original choreography all by itself doesn't support a choice to swap partners... the author is not in the habit of forgetting to mention that sort of thing where he wants it. But, in other places he (a studgy old man at the time of writing) grouses about how young people these days do all sorts of improper things like changing partners, and ladies kicking so high you can see their petticoats, and so forth; so one knows that such things were done at least as improvisation. Also, the galliard variation 'la volta', described in the same source, features a gentleman lifting his partner and twirling her around. they're dancing independently of other couples, semi-improvisationally so it's not a scripted swap-to-the-other-side-again-with--the-next exchange (plus it's a bit challenging so one would not want to try with an unfamiliar partner, as injury could result), but we do have there an example of picking a lady up, twirling her and setting her down elsewhere--the first recorded example of that move, IIRC. And for lavolta the lady is lifted by the front and back of her torso, aided by the stiffness of her corset and a lift with the lord's knee, so she faces sideways across the lord and might be able to kick without hitting him in the shins.

It is to puzzle over.

HL Eoin

Re: Eoin can't shut up!

The nifty dance with the diagonal switching hey thingies is an SCA invention called Heralds in Love.


Again, I wish you lived closer!!! I think you would pick up Wherligig quickly. It is one of the more complex ECD's, but so much fun once it is learned. As you can tell from the ball this past weekend, there are those of us who know it and love it, but it usually gets done close to the end of the night.

I am not touching Official Bransle. As Eoin mentioned, how it is typically done in the SCA is not the original choreography. If you are interested, you can buy a translated copy of the Arbeau's Orchesography from Amazon. Might be something to add to that Christmas wish list of yours. ;-) I refuse to dance Official Bransle. Not because I don't like it, but because most guys get a little over-exuberant when tossing the lady.

Hole in the Head (Wall) is the prefered dance of queens in Meridies. At Coronation, there is a ball that celebrates the new and just past queen. The first dance is their choice and inevitably they choose HitW. Mostly that is because it is the only one they know, or it is the only one their partner knows (despite being able to dance supposedly being a requirement for knighthood, most of them can barely do this out-of-period dance). While we have not yet been able to convince them to do something that is actually period, we have been pretty good about not doing at any other time. There are so many pretty period dances that can be done in it's place.


In defense of Official Bransle, the reconstruction we've been doing lately is easy, closer to the original, and reduces the possibility of going up in a ceiling fan because you keep the partner you came with. In short:
DL DR DL DR (as usual)
SL x6 (as usual)
kick right kick left (turn to face your partner during these kicks, and set your hands as necessary for the jump)
lady jumps
repeat second section

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