Inns of Court

At the Politarchopolian (SCA) dance practices we have been working our way through the "Dances from the Inns of Court 1570-1675" book and accompanying CD. This is a brief description on how we have been doing variations in "Alman Lorayne" and why.

It also mentions variations we have tried in the Quadro Pavan and describes how the "Red and White Alman" evolved from the "Black Alman".

An observation.

In most of the dances in this set the originals seem to suggest that the second part was the first part danced. Could it be that the first part was considered an introduction? An introduction long enough for you to find a partner and get onto the dance floor?

A game

At Politicharopolis dance practice I thought it would be good to practice spacing and encouraging communication with your partner. There is not enough flirting going on. To this end I devised a couple of "games" one with a pavan, which we call the grand march pavan, and the other with Alman Lorayne.

In Alman Lorayne the rules of the game were simple. The first two times through the pattern you must do the standard pattern. Also the four doubles forward in the first part are always the same. In the four doubles of the second part you could do what you and your partner liked as long as the variation was vaguely period and you did not take up any more space than is normal for this part.

If you could not think of, or agree on, a variation then the standard pattern was fine.

This game proved to be very successful, people became more aware of the spacing between couples and what could be done without inconveniencing others. Couples came up with all sorts of variations within the rules and attempted some outside the rules. It is now the only way to dance this dance.

The only problem comes when you have people dancing who do not know the dance well and rely on following the leader.

Alman Lorayne

I did not agree with the interpretation of this dance given in "Dances from the Inns of Court" booklet. This could just be my prejudice against turning in a tight circle which can make me very ill.

The form we do is:-
A. Four alman doubles forward
B. A double forward
A double back
two doubles to cast out and back to your place

The dance starts on the left foot and alternates right and left. Depending on the variations done you may start part A on the "wrong" foot and in the "improper" place!

Most of the variations which have been tried come from other "Inns of Court" dances. Most of these take up two doubles and can be mixed with others.

From "Black alman" we get
"set and turn single",
"back away from your partner and meet",
"change places".

From "Tinternell" and "The Old Alman" we get
"single, single, double in a circle about your partner".

From "Madam Sosilia Alman"
"single, single, reverence".

From "The New Alman"
"men single, women single, change places".

From "Lorayne" we get:-
Forward and back, cast for 2 doubles
Forward, back, forward and cast for 1 double
Forward and case for 3 doubles
Cast for 4 doubles

Some of these can also be broken up into one double variations and the mix just gets more varied. Any of the variations which include two singles will put you on the "wrong" foot unless you do another two single variation. Similarly if you only change places once you will be "improper". Neither of these are outlawed by the game.

As people became more confident they started trying variations which broke the rule of using the same amount of space. This has caused some problems with couples bumping into each other. I think it is the responsibility of the couple breaking the rule to ensure there is no collision. This can be done by either making sure that the other couple know what you are going to do before you do it so they can do a variation which will not collide. Or adjust your variation on the fly to avoid the collision. This is especially true if the other couple is new to the dance.

Some variations tried so far include:-
back and forward a double to start
cast for four to behind the couple behind,
four doubles back while "second" couple cast forward
man one casts to man two's place while man 2 does extra doubles forward
Figure of 8, or hay with your partner for 4 doubles

The first couple also have the potential for doing four doubles forward as their variation to give them space for something different in the next variation. This will only work if the second couple do not do four doubles forward in their next variation.

Quadro Pavan

Some variations, using the same space, that have been tried
- vary singles by facing partner to set
- vary doubles by doing both facing forward but in opposite directions
- vary singles facing by facing and
- singles away and together
- singles together and away
- singles one partner forward the other back then return to place

Some variations tried which use different spacing are
- set and turn single (SL, SR, turn with DL)
- set and reverence (SL, SR, RR)
- set and change places (SL, SR, DR to partners place)
- Manshaft variation
- palm right rock left (single)
- palm left rock right
- palm right change places (double)
- repeat
- Tinternell variation
- take right hands and change places (S S D)
- repeat back to place

Red and White Alman

This is almost the same as the Black Alman as popularly done in Lochac with an extra two Almain doubles added at the end of the pattern. During these two extra doubles couples cast off from each other and do a small circle back to their place.  There are also only three slip steps not four.

The music for this dance comes from the London Pro Musica ???? and is called Nancie. (A NoteWorthy Composer version of this music is available ????)

The Pattern

Parade forward with four Alman Doubles, ensuring that those not dancing see your grace, style, costume and partner. End the forth double facing towards your partner.

Alman Double back away from your partner, being careful not to tread on your hem, sleaves or liripipe. Also try not to bump into those behind you.

Alman Double back towards your partner.

Turn Left and Alman Double forwards. Note that this is in the oposite direction to your partner. Greet the other dancers as you pass or meet them.

Turn around and double back to your partner.

Lords only - Set and Turn Single using normal or flat steps rather than the Alman steps.

Ladys only - Like wise.

Take both hands with your partner and flat double to change places. Do three slip steps to the Lordís right.

Repeat the changing places and slips.

Drop hands and Alman Double back from your partner. Alman Double back to meet ending facing forwards. I nice touch is to almos take hands.

Do two Alman Doubles casting out in a circle ending back with your partner ready to repeat the pattern.


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