Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Dance and Tea

A dance exercise, inspired by my morning cup of Lapsang Souchong:

Some period dance forms (especially 16th century Italian) prize self-control as particularly important. Doing the dances really well requires not just small steps but *controlled* steps: not letting your body jiggle around randomly, but always being exactly where you mean to be. This is one of the hardest things for the typical SCAdian social dancer to learn, since we do so many forms like bransles and English Country pretty exuberantly. (Possibly more exuberantly than would have been appropriate in period, but since the original sources don't warn you much against that, we don't worry about it as much.)

So here's a simple exercise for learning your own body's tendencies and starting to control them. Fill a mug of water (or, in my case, hot tea) most of the way up. Walk up and down the stairs. Try not to spill any of the water. Once you can do that, fill the mug a bit fuller, go up and down the stairs faster, and inject a bit more spring into your step rather than walking on eggshells.

That's pretty much it: it's a very simple, but gives you a sense of how connected all the bits of your body are. Moving your feet and body up and down without rocking the cup too much requires starting to learn how to separate those bits: moving your feet a lot without moving your hands too much forces you to take up the shock of the movement elsewhere in your body. It emphasizes the fact that control is *not* the same thing as stiffness -- carrying a full cup while going up and down requires instead a controlled springiness, which is the heart of late-Italian dance.

Don't read too much into this -- it's not specifically an exercise for learning trabuchetti or anything like that. (Learning to do trabs perfectly would probably require putting the cup on top of your head.) But it's a straightforward way to start getting a sense of how your pieces interact, and a first step towards managing that interaction...

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