Academy of the Performing Arts


Shire of Iron Ox


August 1, 2009 AS XLIV


Written this 11th day of August A.S. XLIV being 2009 Gregorian by Barun Rory ua Riada


The Shire of Iron Ox held the second Academy of the Dance in the Kingdom of Gleann Abhann on the first Saturday of August in the year A.S. XLIV. The event was expanded and renamed as the Academy of the Performing Arts to encompass more than just dance. This year the event would also include the Bardic and Theater arts plus music. The event was held at the Cabot Lodge Millsaps in Jackson, Mississippi. Negotiations had been made to get a reduced room rate for the SCA block of rooms. The autocrat was originally Sarah Tereza but changed to Lady Broinninn inghean Aindriasa due to conflicts of schedule. Reservations were handled by Lady Shimofuri. The class coordinator (aka creator of the class schedule) and non-European dance class coordinator was Mistress Rosalind bint Mihrimah. The European dance class coordinator was Mistress Julian ferch Rhys. This year three extra rooms were booked to offer five tracks of classes – European 1 and 2, Non-European 1 and 2, and Bardic/Theater, plus a Con Room on the first floor for those coming for the day to change garb and to provide snacks and lunch.


 As the event was held in a hotel, the event fee of $10 before July 31st/$13 at the door was just for attending the one-day of classes followed by a Ball and Hafla and Bardic Circle in the evening. Gentlefolk could also just attend the Ball and Hafla and Bardic Circle for a fee of $5. Non-members needed to pay the SCA non-member surcharge of $3. Attendance was good with 86 registered as of noon Saturday. However with extra rooms booked at the hotel for classes/meetings and a lower attendance fee (last year being $12 in advance and $15 at the door), the Shire lost money.


The reservation/troll table for the event would open at seven o’clock Saturday morning. Troll was set up in the lobby hallway across from the first meeting room (European Classroom 1). Yoga would be offered at eight o’clock in the Non-European Classroom 1 while a Vocal Warm Up was offered in the Bardic/Theater room, with all regular classes beginning at nine o’clock. There would be a lunch break from noon to one o’clock. Classes would end at five o’clock with a two hour break for dinner, the Ball and Hafla beginning at seven o’clock. A Performing Arts Guild Meeting to see if there was an interest would be held at six-thirty that evening.


Cabot Lodge Millsaps was not difficult to find, located at 2375 North State Street off Woodrow Wilson Road at the Millsaps College exit (Exit 98A) from I-55 in Jackson, Mississippi. Unlike last year, the hotel did not appear to be packed. There were no Saints training camp or two family reunions. There was an alumni reunion and a wedding. However none of the Friday night excitement was filling the lobby and second floor dining area as it had last year. The hotel was in fact very quiet Friday night when I arrived around nine o’clock. In fact I had completed hotel registration and unpacking of the car by nine-fifteen. And I was able to park in front of the hotel, not off by the swimming pool like last year.


The one drawback that weekend was the hotel’s system was down so nothing could be pulled up on their computers. If you registered in advance via the Internet, they did have print outs. But if you called in your registration, they did not have those. In fact, the desk clerk was having to hand write on sheets of paper the rooms and names of the people checking in. By Sunday the computers were back but the hotel had five days of guests registrations to process, so they were still not able to print out receipts Sunday and would be emailing them instead.


Cabot Lodge has six floors. The first floor is actually its basement with door to the gated swimming pool and a door to the employee parking lot. The gym and a few, not many, rooms are located there along with hotel offices. The second floor has the front entrance to the hotel, the parking lot surrounding the hotel for guests with entrances from the street, the lobby, hotel registration, and a dining area for breakfast and evening cocktail hour, hallway with four meeting rooms, and a fifth meeting room behind the food stations in back of the dining area. There was also a side hallway with bathrooms that led to guest rooms. Two elevators are in the lobby to go to all six floors.


The hotel offered a full breakfast and an evening cocktail hour. The breakfast included a variety of coffees and juices, cereals, fruit, yogurts, lots of breads, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, and biscuits with gravy. There was also a waffle maker.


I joined Mistress Anna Niki, her ward, and Mistress Julian for breakfast while troll was being set up. However, I did get to give Lady Shimofuri a bag of books on the history of Portugal and Brazil from the LSU-S Library to peruse to find a name that could be registered, plus as a gift a copy of Captain Alatriste (set in Spain during the time of Philip IV, 1621-1665) by Arturo Pérez-Reverte translated by Margaret Peden. Lady Shimofuri in turn gifted me with a handmade coffee cup and mug, both glazed in yellow with the purple panther (my badge), the back side of coffee cup having my initials (DD) and the mug having the arms of Gleann Abhann sans laurel wreath, stars and crown. She also presented to me three pottery ‘tags’ (size you see of the grocery store cards you put on your keychain), each with the purple panther on yellow on one side and a Japanese word (service I think) in purple on yellow on the back. I am to keep one and send the other two to her sister protégés, Nonnie and Bridget.


While the Shire of Iron Ox was the hosting group and creator of this event, they were assisted by the Incipient Shire of Blue Flats. Lady Shimofuri and Lady Katrinka Whitehair were the main operators of the reservation/troll table. Lady Shimofuri was from Iron Ox and Lady Katrinka from Blue Flats. They were assisted by THL Ariadne de Ravenna. A green coated-paper band that you peeled at one end to join together around your wrist (or ankle for the daring) was the site token to be worn when attending the classes and the evening festivities. The schedule was on a single white sheet of paper. Class descriptions for the classes in a particular room were attached to the outside of the door to each room along with the schedule of classes for the room.


Flyers for ShadowCon XIV were placed on tables throughout the dining area and class hallway. I also placed a stack of 2010 and 2009/2010 calendars on a table next to troll for anyone to take. By the end of the day only two were left (yeah!). Following the massive rush of attendees checking in, Meistress Julian placed information about the College of European Dance (or Western European Dance), part of RUGA, at troll. The troll table would be open most of the day, both Shimofuri and Katrinka operating for those coming for classes and then that evening for the festive ball, hafla, and bardic circle. Katrinka managed to do some serious hand-sewing and tablet or inkle weaving while at the troll table. Shimofuri was able to escape to attend a class or two during the day.


There were several children at the event. I think Lady Kendra of Dragoun’s Weal assisted with the children’s activities. There were three ladies who herded the seven to twelve children age twelve and under plus those young teens of thirteen years of age (perhaps only one being a ‘teen’ teen). Children’s activities were scattered throughout the day starting in the hallway where troll was with marshmallow catapults and foam jousting sticks.


At nine o’clock the children’s formal instruction began with ‘Dance & Druming for those under 12’ in the Non-European Room 1 followed by ‘Dance for those under 12’ at ten o’clock in the European Room 2, and ‘Felt Bead making’ at eleven o’clock by the swimming pool. Following lunch, children’s activities continued till four o’clock in informal instructional activities (games, coloring, more catapults, etc.).


Last year King William and Queen Onora attended the event for the day but did not hold formal court. This year Princess Onora came for the day, again not holding a formal court. She did attend the Laurel’s lunchtime meeting, the Diamond Chalice’s afternoon meeting, welcomed all to the GA Variety Show, and enjoyed the bardic circle as a member of the audience and participant.


Last year Lady Fiona MacLachlan from the Barony of Iron Mountain set up a merchant table. This year there was no formal merchanting. However there were attendees from the Kingdom of Meridies and the Barony of Iron Mountain.


The classrooms were arranged in the hallway starting with the European Room 1, European Room 2, Bardic/Theater Room, and Non-European Room 2, with the Non-European Room 1 at the back of the breakfast area.


Each class was one hour in length. Starting at nine o’clock in the European Room #1 the classes were Aengus Reel, Korabuscka, Trenchmore by Mistress Meaghan Arsmith of Ludlow [Need we say more?]; Beginning English Coutnry Dance by THL Caedmon of Jorvik [Halfe Hannikin, Heart’s Ease, Jenny Pluck Pears]; Intermediate English Country Dance by THL Caedmon of Jorvik [Gathering Peascods, Black Nag, If All the World Were Paper]. Then there was a one hour break for lunch.


Starting at one o’clock the classes were Pavanes & Almans by THL Caedmon of Jorvik [Old Alman, Black Alman, Earl of Salisbury’s Pavan]; Bransles-ing with Lord Caedmon [Maltese Bransle, Official Bransle, Charlotte Bransle]; 15th Century Italian with THL Caedmon of Jorvik [Amoroso, Gelosia, Rostiboli Gioioso]; Hole in the Wall – Embellishments and Sharking [Countess Meaghan leads the most danced dance in the SCA and the one most often performed at Balls.].


I spent most of my class-attendance day in the European Room #2, setting up my CD player and finding the music for the children’s class dances around eight-thirty and then attending at nine o’clock 15th Century Italian Bassadanza by Meistress Julian ferch Rhys [In a gentle start to the day, we'll look at some slow, flirtatious Italian dances from the 15th century; Alessandresca and Chastellana. Some dance experience helpful, but not necessary.]; Dance for those under 12 by Maistir Rory ua Riada [A class just for children! This is part of the Iron Ox Children Activities - The Clog Branle, Maltese Branle, Tangle Branle, Official Branle (with the kids just jumping in play both times, no moving the ladies – no ‘tossing’)]; Italian for Dancers by Meistress Julian ferch Rhys [This is an intermediate level Reconstruction class looking at the Italian language in dance treatises. We'll work from a 16th century example (they're easier to read, being printed), but similarities and differences to the language in the 15th century manuscripts will also be touched upon.]. Then there was a one hour break for lunch.


From one to two-thirty was the Diamond Chalice Meeting in the Con Room so I missed the next two classes in European Room #2 and went to the Bardic/Theater Room for the three o’clock class and then returned to the European Room #2 for the four o’clock class. The four afternoon classes in the European Room #2 were Entering Performing Arts with 4 PA Laurels (bring your documentation for review) [Mistress Isolde, Mistress Vashti, Mistress Julian, Mistress Rosalind]; Basic Recorder with Seamus [a very limited number of recorders will be available. If you have one, please bring it!]; Medieval Music Notation with Lord Iain O’Donnell [after the class you'll be able to use coloration, talea, and isorhythm intelligently at cocktail parties! Every SCA-dian's dream!]; Cascarde (16th Century Italian) by Meistress Julian ferch Rhys [A lively style of dance from the late Renaissance. Cascarde are quick, fun and flirty. A good way to end the day! We'll have a look at my favourite cascarda: Chiara Stella. Dance experience very helpful, but adventurous souls are also welcome ! :)]. For the Cascarde class Lady Alliessa Wallace and I were the ‘stunt dancers’, though we were not needed so much as Meistress Julian had recovered greatly from her leg injuries of the Spring and was able to move around and show ‘slowly’ the dance steps.


The Non-European Room #1 started the day with Yoga of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Mistress Rosalind bint Mihrimah at eight o’clock by Roz [For all levels. Basic stretches and breathing to prepare for a day of dancing based on the 14th century text.  A yoga mat would be helpful but not required.]. This was followed at nine o’clock with Dance & Drumming for those under 12; Beginner ME Drumming; Intermediate ME Drumming. Then there was a one hour break for lunch.


This room was used during the lunch break for the Laurel’s meeting. The Laurels in attendance at the event included Mistress Isolde die Graue aus dem Lebendhertz, Mistress Arielle de Brabazon, Mistress Serita Vashti al Coya, Master Finn Normansson, Mistress Julian ferch Rhys, Mistress Anna Nikolaevna Petrakova, Mistress Jennet of Tewkesbury, Mistress Rebecca with the Greyhound, and Mistress Rosalind bint Mihrimah.


The afternoon classes began with the ME Jam Session – practice session for the hafla; How to be a Better Performer in the SCA with Mistress Edwina (if she was there I did not recognize her – sigh) [Guest instructor from Calontir and key organizer of Al Mahala will share tips on being a better dancer and performer in SCA settings. Includes dancer ettiquette.]; A Reasonable Attempt for ME Dancers by Lady Zhara um Nikko [SCA haflas have progressed significantly in recent years. No longer grungy drum circles sentenced to exile in the parking lot, haflas are now attended by royals and listed on official schedules - the crowning jewel of an event. With the higher profile comes a higher expectation of period and cultural accuracy. Tips on selecting decor, garb, food and music that will not only dazzle, but also meet approval from the history buffs.]; Finger Cimbals with Mistress Isolde die Grau aus dem Lebenhertz [Please bring your own Finger cymbals, sagats, or Zills!].


The classes in the Non-European Room #2 began at nine o’clock with Intro to ME Dance by Duchess Ilissa the Nightwatcher [For the total beginner! Stance, posture, footwork, hands, beginning abdominals. Easy steps to become the total dancer!]; Ghawazhee by Duchess Ilissa (she volunteered to do this class after the original instructor, Lady Heylen Tabiti had to cancel due to work); Dance in Pre-Islamic Egypt by Mistress Rosalind bint Mihrimah [Beginner to Intermediate.  Roman women let their hair down and danced in a trance like frenzy in a display of crazed behavior inspired by the god Bacchus. Learn the Bacchanalian Dance depicted in weavings, statues and other preserved artifacts.]. Then there was the one hour break for lunch.


The afternoon classes resuming at one o’clock were Arabic Footwork and Thobe Dance by Duchess Ilissa the Nightwatcher [Easy class even for beginners! Distinctive Arabic footwork and patterns. Learning to dance with a Thobe (i.e., a long dress/duster. Bring a chemise, and long scarf or other long fabric if you do not own a Thobe.) I will have a few loaners.]; Andalusian Dance with Mistress Isolde [Beginning with a catalouge of the basic movements ( by way of a warm up ), going on to include foot movements, arm placements, combinations, postures, and some very basic routines- with an emphasis on the improvisational thrust of the form. Wear movable clothing, and please bring zills, castanets, tambourines, and any instruments that you may wish to incorporate- excluding electronics and sousaphones. (Editors Note: EXCELLENT class for Fencing foot work!)]; Intro to Ottoman dancing of the 16th Century by Mistress Rosalind bint Mihrimah [Learn the entertainment for the Sultan as performed by women in the harem. Based on images from the 16th century, we will piece together how the women might have performed using mendils (if you have a large square veil, please bring!). Beginner.]; and Tunisian Technique by Mistress Rosalind (which she filled in for, that class also to have been taught by Lady Heylen originally) [Eat light and be prepared to Twist!].


Duchess Ilissa, in addition to teaching her original two classes, one additional class after a cancellation, also assisted with two of the Non-European classes during the day. She was a very happy but tired teacher at the end of the day.

The Bardic/Theater Room opened to the participants with the eight o’clock Vocal Warm Up lead by Lord Iain O’Donnell [If you are using your voice all day, prepare it! Lord Ian will lead you through drills…]. It was followed by Fools, Fooling, Fols on Stage, and Fools Clothing with Lady Amelia von Hemessen [in 16th century England , Netherlands, and Germany. Class focuses on fools clothing, famous fools, symbolism and more]; Being Kingdom Bard/Poet Laureate – what does in mean? What do I do? by Lord Bran Finn uha Neill; Performance and Practice for Theatre and Voice by Lady Amelia von Hemessen [class focuses on interpreting dialogue, stage movement, projection, relaxation techniques, nervousness, vowel formation, and more]. Then there was a one hour lunch break.

The afternoon classes were Being a Better Bard by Lord Bran Finn uha Neill; Commedia del Arte with Sorch inghean Domhnail; Voice Support and Projection by Lady Melisante of Loch Bais [A class not just for bards! Heralds welcome! Or anyone else who wants to be heard!]; and Performance and Dialogue, Symbolism in the Script by Lady Amelia von Hemessen [audience watches performance: dialogue, history and movement are discussed pre and post performance. (Play TBA)]. Lady Melisante’s class the only one I took outside of the European Classroom #2. It was very different, all about breathing techniques and using different muscles in your abdomen and back. The participants (including Mistress Vashti and Lady Amelia and Seamus? assisted by Lord Bran) also lay down on sheets obtained from the hotel staff to practice breathing and voice projection from the floor.

In the lobby hallway, besides the troll table there was set up at ten o’clock a Documentation Review Station which remained open until three o’clock with a break for lunch. At two o’clock Lord Cucullin the Bald held his class, Personalizing Your Performance, in the lobby/breakfast area [Topics discussed will include internal and external aspects of a performance and how to control them. Examining the power of the individual word in ways you never thought of!].

The Incipient Shire of Blue Flats provided the main dishes for lunch in the Con Room being red beans and rice with huge sausages, fresh veggies with dip, and chips with dips, homemade and store-bought cookies. Dylan brought the red beans and rice. Catherine of the Blue Flats made whiskey balls (I thought they were rum balls but only ate two). Bethany Theilman and Miguel brought food and oversaw reloading trays and containers of red beans. Drinks were on your own, however, all of the classrooms had at least one table with pitchers of ice water and plastic cups. A Wendy’s restaurant was about a block away from the hotel and proved popular for those not wanting red beans and rice.

The Diamond Chalice meeting was held in the Con Room at one o’clock at the conclusion of the lunch break, though the Order did open the door for those last minute stragglers who needed a plate of veggies or red beans and rice (there was at least one or two more containers of this that never had to be heated up). The Diamond Chalice meeting was run by THL Cormac Michelsone, called the Bald, Secretary of the Order. It was attended by Princess Onora, which was perhaps the very first time a sitting royal (whether Crown or Heirs) had ever actually attended the meeting. Order members present included Ariadne de Ravenna, Magdelena de Segovia and Tegan verch Dwgan, both of whom came just for the meeting and then headed back, Medb ingen ui Mael Anfaid, Morgana of the Mist, Rory ua Riada. After eating lunch in the Con Room I warped an inkle loom while waiting for the Diamond Chalice meeting to start. This loom I passed on to Lord Ravenswar to take to Aphar Faire to give to THL Frederick Alton who would pass it on to Lady Bridget O’Fallon, my protégé, so that she could see how to warp an inkle loom, practice weaving, and then do her own piece on it.

Just as last year the turn out of Knights was particularly small. Sir Drogo of Axbridge, Seneschal of IronOx, was present throughout the day between the Con Room and other rooms of the hotel. However, there was a fighter practice for both heavy weapons and rapier planned for Sunday hosted by the Shire of Iron Ox. As such, other knights might have driven up the next day to attend.

While several Laurels were not only there for the Laurels meeting or to teach classes, a few Pelicans were present to also teach or assist in the day’s activities. Mistress Eilidh nin Choinnich aided with the children’s activities as a watcher at the pool and during the afternoon, bringing all three of her children, who attended the classes. Mistress Meaghan Arsmith of Ludlow was a teacher and also brought her two children who attended the children’s classes. Maistir Rory ua Riada was a teacher and assistant and participant in classes. Master Stephan of Durham was a runner for the Shire of IronOx, assisting in trips to pick up necessary supplies during the day.

The Kingdom Seneschal, Lord Ravenswar Brackae, was also present, and in fact sat in on several of the children’s activities to assist with the large group of children.

Dinner was on your own. A large group in several sub-groups of cars went to Aladdin’s and filled about six or seven tables at one time. Only a few got back to the hotel in time for the PA Guild Meeting during the later half of the hotel’s cocktail hour. The guild meeting was to start at six-thirty and only go about one half-hour. The gist of the meeting boiled down to (1) yes, there is interest; (2) there should be a Performing Arts Guild to encompass all forms – not just dance or bard or theater; (3) separate guilds might form later – split off after enough interest was shown; (4) another meeting would be held at Crown List; (5) now was the time to start thinking about next year’s APA event to continue to expand the offerings of classes and performance opportunities.

The GA Variety Show was held shortly after seven o’clock in the combined European Rooms, which would also be used for the ball. Princess Onora welcomed and thanked everyone for coming, teaching, and participating, and the hard work done by the Shires of Iron Ox and Blue Flats, autocrats and class coordinators, and instructors. Mistress Vashti and Lady Amelia in theatrical costumes then emceed the variety show with several humorous skits and jokes. Performances included Mistress Isolde’s Andalusian dance, Cucullin’s bardic recitation, Bran Finn’s Gaelic song, Melisante’s English song and her Russian song, Sorcha’s bardic recitation, and Seamus’ recorder instrumental piece.

The ball, bardic circle, and hafla were each held concurrently following the GA Variety Show. The ball was in the combined European Rooms. The Bardic Circle was in the Bardic/Theater room. The hafla was in the Non-European Room behind the breakfast area. The Bardic Circle started with about ten to twelve people and gradually increased in size as the dancers at the ball and hafla tired out and went to sit and be entertained. Princess Onora participated in the Bardic Circle with stories. One of the highlights of the Bardic Circle was Cucullin’s faux bango performance about the Laurels. The Laurels were so overcome by the jokes and music that they asked him to perform it again Saturday night at Kingdom A&S. He debuted this performance at Barbarian Brawl the weekend before.

The hafla has about five or six drummers, many observers sitting along the sides, and several solo and group dances lead by Mistress Isolde, Mistress Rosalind, and Duchess Ilissa.

The ball was coordinated by Meistress Julian. The ball began with Hole in the Wall. The dance sets (all or most of which were danced) included: Set I - Official Bransle, Amoroso, Old Alman, Gathering Peascods. As in intermission between the first and second set the dance Chastelana was performed. Then Set II - Maltese Bransle, Rostiboli Gioioso, Earl of Salisbury’s Pavan, and Black Nag. Set III - Horses Bransle, Gelosia, Black Alman, and If All The World Were Paper. As an intermission between the third and fourth set the dance Chiara Stella was performed. Then Set IV – Charlotte Bransle, Petit Riense, Queens Alman, and Jenny Pluck Pears. The Korobushka and Angus Reel concluded the program followed by requests. However, as this actual dance program was not printed out and brought to the event, Meistress Julian has to handwrite the ball’s dances and some changes may have occurred. In fact there was a Tangle Bransle requested by Countess Meaghan’s daughter and lead by Lady Shimofuri’s daughter. And something called “Heralds in Love” was taught on the spot by Lord Ranulfr and Lord Caedmon, and was really a cool changing of place in line dance.

Sharking occurred in the Hole in the Wall and from then on Maistir Rory proclaimed that any dance could be sharked, and actually tried to prove it in some of the other dances of the evening. Countess Meaghan and Baroness Medb got Rory in trouble – it is their entire fault, I swear Mistress Isolde! Oh, and the Laurels forced Rory to make an alcohol run for them – really just to get ONE bottle! That must be how husbands of pregnant wives feel when sent off to buy ONE thing, and only ONE thing, she craves. Mistress Jennet rode shotgun on the alcohol run.

Oh, and Lord Ranulfr, one of Duchess Katrina’s apprentices from Iron Mountain, was a great class assistant and ball helper, along with Lord Caedmon and Lady Allessia Wallace. Much fun was had by all during the night at the three festive evening activities. It was one-fifteen when the bardic circle closed done, the ball and hafla ending between eleven and midnight. I retired for the night at one o’clock, so almost lasted for the whole thing.

Sunday morning came all too quickly. Breakfast in the breakfast area of the hotel was wonderful and people socialized before packing, loading vehicles, and checking out for the journeys home. A rapier practice (and heavy weapons?) was to have been held at the hotel, but I did not see any of it as I loaded the car. Had the weather been bad, it had rained during the day Saturday, the practice would have been inside Cabot Lodge in the combined European Rooms.

The journey home was uneventful, full of sunshine and reasonable drivers. This had been a great hotel event and a fine continuation of the Academy of the Dance as the expanded Academy of the Performing Arts.


Written this 11th day of August A.S. XLIV being 2009 Gregorian by Barun Rory ua Riada

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