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Lead up - which hand?

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    Patricia Ruggiero Nov. 5, 2001, 4:13 a.m. (Message 28041)

    Rosemary Harrison wrote:
    "(Before that, I believe there was a very early version where both the man
    and the woman had their palms facing down.)
    
    Do you have a copy of Arbeau's _Orchesography_?  The drawings are rather
    naive.  In two different places there are pictures of a couple executing the
    "reverence" and it is obvious that the man and woman have nearer hands
    joined.  What's maddening is that in these quite simple drawings it is
    impossible, to me at least, to tell the orientation of their hands.  I had
    always assumed that the man's palm faced upward, the woman's downward.
    Following each of these there is a picture illustrating "pieds joints" (same
    picture in both cases) --   and now that you mention it, I could almost make
    the case that both those little hands have their palms facing downward, the
    woman's hand seeming to be resting on top of the man's.  The accompanying
    text, explaining the dance figure, doesn't address the subject of the hands.
    
    Pat
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    Adam Hughes Nov. 5, 2001, 1:19 p.m. (Message 28042, in reply to message 28041)

    Hi Pat,
    
    I'm not entirely convinced that Arbeau is a good manual for SCD... :) 
    One of the definite changes over the 350 years between Arbeau and the
    RSCDS is the move from holding hands at hip level to holding hands at
    shoulder level (the W shape we all love).
    
    But, I agree with the point.  You can look to historical sources all you
    like, but the details were not written down (in any of the ones I am
    familiar with).  Possibly you can interpret the Arbeau's picture of a
    reverence in that way, but they could easily have changed hand hold
    specifically for the reverence, although Arbeau would most likely have
    mentioned that.
    
    We dance the way we dance because of peer pressure in the present.  SCD
    is a tradition, and tradition is about passing information from person
    to person.  A tradition is living, and to say we should do something
    different because that is how it used to be done, is to miss that
    point.  The tradition evolves, or it stagnates.
    
    We dance now, not in the past.
    
    Adam
    Cambridge, UK.
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    Patricia Ruggiero Nov. 6, 2001, 3:44 a.m. (Message 28053, in reply to message 28042)

    About the hands in the "reverence" Adam wrote: "Possibly you can interpret
    the Arbeau's picture of a reverence in that way, but they could easily have
    changed hand hold specifically for the reverence..."
    
    Quite so, but I cited the picture of the "reverence" because that's the only
    one that shows a couple (all the rest are of the man demonstrating the
    various steps);  in it the nearer hands are joined, but I can't tell the
    orientation of the hands, as per Rosemary's comment.  Several other pictures
    show our man holding a woman's disembodied hand; I think it's obvious that
    they also are nearer hands, but in these the orientation is ambiguous.  In
    the "pied joints" I could almost make a case that both palms face downward.
    In the "pied largis oblique" (both right and left), I'm more confident that
    his palm faces upward and hers downward.  Charming little drawings.
    
    I didn't mean to suggest that because Arbeau's book shows hands joined in a
    certain way for a certain figure over 350 years ago, SCD today should follow
    suit.  My post was mainly a rejoinder to Rosemary's comments about
    historical dance, meant mostly to express my surprise at discovering that
    possibly *in those days* both palms faced downward -- a point about which I
    don't recall ever hearing or reading.
    
    Maybe we could revive the "Scottish Branle".......(just kidding!)
    
    Pat
  • ...

    Adam Hughes Nov. 6, 2001, 7:39 p.m. (Message 28058, in reply to message 28053)

    Patricia Ruggiero wrote:
    > ...meant mostly to express my surprise at discovering that
    > possibly *in those days* both palms faced downward -- a point about which I
    > don't recall ever hearing or reading.
    
    Interesting.  I don't think I've ever been taught how to join nearer
    hands.
    
    It comes naturally to me to offer my hand with the palm facing toward me
    and slighty up.  Then as I turn to face the same direction as my
    partner, my hand rotates, so that my partner's palm is resting on the
    back of my hand, and my palm is down.  If/when I turn to face my partner
    again, my hand rotates so that face to face my palms are up.  My
    forefinger stays in constant contact with my partners fingers.
    
    I suspect it was my mother who taught me to offer my arm to a lady with
    my fist gently balled and and the palm down...
    
    > Maybe we could revive the "Scottish Branle".......(just kidding!)
    
    :-)  I have two friends who often dance a circle with a capriol at the
    change of direction, although I doubt that's what they'd call it... 
    It's close...
    
    Adam
    Cambridge, UK.
  • ...

    Patricia Ruggiero Nov. 7, 2001, 4:17 a.m. (Message 28066, in reply to message 28058)

    Adam wrote:
    
    "I have two friends who often dance a circle with a capriol at the change of
    direction, although I doubt that's what they'd call it... It's close..."
    
    Indeed it is!
    
    When I said I was just kidding about reviving the Scottish Branle, I was
    thinking in terms of doing only those sideways doubles and singles, left and
    right, endlessly, with just two "pied en l'air" and one capriol at the very
    end for relief.  But as one figure in a longer dance, well, that's
    different....
    
    Pat
  • ...

    Fiona Nov. 5, 2001, 2:19 p.m. (Message 28044, in reply to message 28041)

    Since we are just past Samhain, (or Hallowe'en as the Christianised version
    became known),  those interested in the mysterious origins of the spirit of
    traditional dance might remember that it would be tempting evil fate to
    offer the sinister hand before the right hand had been given; and contrary
    to the natural way of the world to move widdershins round in the celtic
    circle before travelling sunwise and thereby asserting the precedence of the
    forces of Right.
    
    Dance as an artistic form of the expression of religious belief appears to
    be a common characteristic of many human societies, and I hope that even
    today what we are trying to do is to use technique to bring the spirit of
    the dance alive in a set rather than calcify it.
    
    
    Fiona
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    Harrison, Rosemary M Nov. 6, 2001, 9:14 p.m. (Message 28060, in reply to message 28041)

    Interesting. No, I don't actually have any book on this subject: it is just
    the way I was taught to do early court dancing a long time ago (with the
    woman's hand palm down on top of the back of the man's hand: and yes this
    included the "reverence" now that you remind me). It is a hold which does
    not permit much speed or abrupt change of direction without losing contact -
    but then if you are wearing a massively heavy dress with a train I suppose
    you are pretty slowed-down anyway! (I suspect it is extremely difficult to
    reconstruct a relationship with present practice - not that that will deter
    those of us who naturally ponder the historical roots of all that we do and
    think.)
    Rosemary
    
    Rosemary M Harrison

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