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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
Dancing in Shakespeare a good idea
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0752  Thursday, 25 March 2004

[1]     From:   Jan Pick <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Mar 2004 17:29:35 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0744 Dancing in Shakespeare a good idea

[2]     From:   E. F. Winerock <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Mar 2004 03:59:34 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0744 Dancing in Shakespeare a good idea


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jan Pick <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Mar 2004 17:29:35 -0000
Subject: 15.0744 Dancing in Shakespeare a good idea
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0744 Dancing in Shakespeare a good idea

The latest dance here seems to be based on the Tudor
Bransle/Bransie/Brawl. Steps to the side, reverse, back, forward etc!
Most line dancing is based on Pavanes etc it seems to me!

Jan Pick

PS It makes teaching Tudor dance easier if you can persuade the boys
that it's the same dance as is at number one in the charts!!!

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           E. F. Winerock <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Mar 2004 03:59:34 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 15.0744 Dancing in Shakespeare a good idea
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0744 Dancing in Shakespeare a good idea

The MIT student reviewer's comment, "I hardly think that a two and a
half hour play needs a dance sequence, especially when the time spent
practicing the dances could have been spent practicing some other
important things," demonstrates confusion between performance and text.
It sounds like the problem with this particular production was that the
dancing was done poorly and therefore lost its relevance, not that
dancing should not be in the play.

Throughout his plays, Shakespeare uses dance specifically and
consistently.  Combining music, drinking, and dancing is one of his most
common methods to convey festivity and celebration, while dancing,
especially masked dances, is often used to facilitate flirting and
courtship. In Much Ado the masked dance in Act 2: scene 1 furthers the
courtship plots (Romeo & Juliet, Henry 8), while the dance at the end of
the play cements the happy ending (As You Like It, Midsummer Night's
Dream).

It is true that "Dancing is a great way to pick up people at parties,"
and it was true in Shakespearean England. Dancing gave men and women an
excuse to talk privately with each other without scandal. While it might
be reasonable to cut the dance at the end of a play, or at least have
only a very abbreviated one, unlike in many Restoration plays, dancing
is significant to the plot and to character development in Much Ado and
in Shakespeare plays in general.

As for dances being "expressions of a world reordered by love," (L.
Swilley) I'd recommend looking at Alan Brissenden's Shakespeare and the
Dance for a more complex view. Brissenden points out how interrupted
dancing (Tempest, Love's Labours Lost) and dancing that doesn't happen
(end of Twelfth Night) reflect or symbolize the upset of harmony and
order. He also notes that dancing can be disruptive in of itself or
foreshadow disharmony (as in the dancing of the witches in Macbeth, the
satyrs in The Winter's Tale, and Sir Andrew and Sir Toby in Twelfth
Night). Skiles Howard's The Politics of Courtly Dancing in Early Modern
England also discusses the disorderly aspect of dancing, and there are
many dance resources available at http://www.rendance.org/ and on my
website, http://www.winerock.com/shakespeareandance/.

-- Emily Winerock

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