Folk dance music

Symbols for dance descriptions

Niels Mejlhede Jensen, Bøgeløvsvej 4, 2830 Virum, Denmark. e-mail (web master)

Old tunes used for folk dancing in Denmark 1999 arranged with improvisations

The symbols should be simple and self-explanatory.

Symbols for dancers

I use the symbols no. 3, old-time symbols used in Denmark for "fine dances",
i.e. dances for the upper society city people. The society is reflected in the symbols, so that you see the man is in his stiff evening dress (with tails), where the dress coat cannot be buttoned but "stands out" a little bit, in this triangular shape seen from above. The lady is in her corresponding evening dress or gown, maybe décolleté or low necked. Folk dancers are dressed very differently at festivity as can be seen on the photo of week 13. Here the man tends to be more round and the lady is more covered up to her neck. Ladies of the poor people did traditionally not want to show their naked skin at festivities, because their skin had the look of sun and field work, and not the attractive pale look of the rich.

The symbols must be simple and easy distinguishable from one another, and directional. On symbol no. 1 the man is edgy and the woman round and soft all right, but you cannot decide the front and the back. For fast noting down a dance I always use symbol no. 2. But no. 3 has a clearer difference from man to woman, to be sure of the resulting image on different computers. No. 4 is with colour, and no. 5 is when couple 1 should be distinguished. (I wanted the stationary dance description to be without colour, but from dance of week 9 I stopped taking away the colours). When arms are above other arms or above persons they are marked with a thick line, as in symbol no. 6.

Symbols for feet

Symbols for feet are given after the same principles: edgy for the man and naked for the lady, and so that it is easy to see the direction and see left and right. A foot not touching the floor is drawn hollow, see no. 2.

I know too little about it to tell what is ideal in symbols for internet transmission.

Instead I can tell a story from my time as a student at the Technical University, when professor Bisgaard was giving his lectures in heating and ventilation. Professor Bisgaard was one of the excellent old-time professors that was both a practical engineer and a scientist. To tell us students how almost impossible his subject was when coming to reality, he gave us a typical practical assignment: to design a dance hall with a pleasant indoor climate for all the users. At that time a traditional dance hall would typically be with entrance at one end, music scene at the other end, and a bench along the outer walls. Then the ladies would sit on the bench (by the cold wall) and wait for a gentleman to come and ask for a dance. So the design situation is that the man comes in his best clothes of high quality thick Irish wool, suit and waistcoat, wearing his long underpants beneath of course, while his wife comes in thin one layer silk, décolleté almost down to her navel. Then the man gets engaged in full evening dance of fast jitterbug with the young girls in the hot middle of the dance room, while his wife is sitting all evening as a neglected "bench warmer" out by the cold wall, only getting internal heat from her increasing anger and discontent with that husband of hers.

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