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Aesthetics for modern renaissance dancers

I've been musing on where, and why, the culture and aspirations of modern dancer-reenactors differ from those of the dancers of the renaissance. 

We focus on the quantifiable, the intellectual - lists, steps and choreographies - and tend to ignore or understate aesthetics - grace, lightness, beauty, art.

There is something about the type of person who is drawn to dancing in re-enactor circles (myself included). Even more about the type of person who is drawn to learn a lot about dancing. We tend to call someone "a good dancer" - or colloquially, but perhaps more accurately "a dance geek" - if they know many choreographies and have learned to recognise many step names and reproduce them. We talk at great length about the details of those choreographies, usually focussing on floor-patterns and on which steps are done. These are very concrete things: do we repeat this phrase? do we move left or right? 

There are things we talk about much less: how much ombreggiare is perfectly tasteful? can we adjust this turn slightly so it has a more pleasing flourish? is our posture elegant? is it like renaissance imagery? are we dancing beautifully as well as accurately?

It seems that the most characteristic compliment given to a modern dancer-reconstructor is roughly: "you are knowledgeable".

The compliment we read renaissance works is: "you are graceful".

Our focus on knowledge is good, but we should work just as hard at grace: think about it, aspire to it, practice it, teach it.

(Written as the stub of an article in 2014, published now as-is, shortly to be revised and expanded for a class at St Vitus, 2016.)