The Mannschaft Pavanne - Why all the confusion?

(Or - why people from different SCA groups need to spend time discussing which variant they are going to do before dancing the Mannschaft.)

The Mannschaft Pavanne is an SCA dance. It was reputedly created by an SCA group after seeing something like it on a period movie (you know those plays that are so fashionable in these Current Middle Ages). This being the case you would expect that the steps would be well documented and everyone would be taught the same way. There should be no room for confusion in such a dance.

This is not the case. In this article I will attempt to describe the variations I have seen for this dance.

The main cause of this confusion is that we all learnt the dance from the "Lochac Dance Manual" where one step is impossible as it is described. Given this one typographical error each group has had to interpret this step for itself. From there it is easy to embellish the dance. Embellishments are often of the form "Why don't we ...? It will make the dance much more fun.". Interpretation changes are like "They can not possibly mean a right here. It must be a typo. We'll do a left.".

The dance as written in the "Lochac Dance Manual" is quoted as the source of the Mannschaft.


"This pavanne is interpreted different ways in different groups. The palming can be done either with the hands touching or not. Some groups have a 16 count reverence others a 32 count, these things can be decided amongst the set at the time, the main body of the dance remains the same."

While the general figure (where everyone is at any time) is the same the steps in the variations are not.

Set up

"The dance is done is sets of four couples arranged one behind the other with the men and women alternating i.e.

The sets can arrange themselves behind one another or side by side or facing each other with enough room to move forward, whatever arrangement will most conveniently suit the space you have to dance in."

I have seen only one change to this arrangement. The men and women are in opposite order. It appears to most often be a whim of the first couple, the rest falling in behind.


"Some groups have a 16 count reverence others a 32 count,..."

This variation causes there to be more or less music at the end of the dance. A 16 beat reverence allows an extra pavan set to finish the dance.

Pavanne set.

"A pavanne set in this case consists of:
SL SR DL (forwards)
SR SL DR (backwards)"

There are no variations on this that I know of. The actual singles and doubles have many variations which I will not go into here.

First figure.

"1st Figure - facing your partner
Palm left for two counts
1. facing each other step towards your partner with the left foot, at the same time, raise the left hand, palms outwards so the palms almost touch.
2. step back to start, dropping hands. Palm Right for two counts. Palm left and change places for four counts.
1. step towards each other with the left foot, at the same time raise your left hand, also
2. moving around your partner, step right.
3. step left
4. feet together and hands dropped, you should have exchanged places with your partner..."

Unlike many other dances in the Mannschaft you pass and palm the same hand as the step you are taking. Thus you palm left and step on the left foot. Everyone apparently does this figure for the singles, the variation comes on the double.

One variation is to do the double with the left foot palming the right hand.

Another variation on the double is called the "Stormhold Rock". This variation is of the "Why don't we.." kind. The left rock is step left (first beat), rock back onto the right foot (second beat), move quickly to your partners place (two beats).

Second figure

"2nd Figure - groups of four turn to face each other
Women Palm Left into centre for two counts
Men Palm Right into centre for two counts
Women Palm Left and change places anticlockwise for four counts
Men Palm Right for two counts
Women Palm Left for two counts
Men Palm Right and change places clockwise for four counts"

In some groups the men also palm and pass left rather than right.

In some areas of the Known World the men start this figure.

Third figure

"3rd Figure - Circle formed by group of eight
Women Palm Left for two counts
Men Palm Right for two counts
Women Palm Left and change places anticlockwise for four counts
Men Palm Right for two counts
Women Palm Left for two counts
Men Palm Right and change places anticlockwise for four counts - this leads to a change in partners."

In some areas of the Known World the men start this figure.

In the last line, the men Palm Right, move anticlockwise and change partners. If the men Palm Right and move anticlockwise they have to move backwards which does not lead to a change of partners. Most groups interpret this phrase as a typing error.

The most common interpretation keeps the men moving anticlockwise and the change of partners. Thus the men Palm Left like the women.

The dance classes at the College of St. Aldhelms thought that since all other changes for the men were by the right then this should happen here also. They ignored the move anticlockwise and the changing of partners.

I have heard form a source in Mordenvale/Llyn Arien that their solution was to keep the Palm Right and the anticlockwise move with the men doing a double backwards and remain with their partners.


Variations add spice to life and dance. The question is if our editors of dance manuals can let a typing error into print how probable is it for period editors to have done the same?

Yours in dance
Hoskuld Atlason of Iceland

Dated this day of Saint Raymond Nonnatus
the thirty first day of August
Anno Societatus XXVI