Lead up - which hand?
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
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.
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
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