the thought-stream of an artist and writer

Tracey Physioc Brockett

the thought-stream of an artist and writer

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Learning to Dance

Diagram X, ink and acrylic on paper, 9 x 11, 2011. 

John Playford published a collection of English country dance tunes in 1651 called The Dancing Master   and they haunt me whenever I am lucky enough to hear one. One of my current favorites, because I recently heard a stellar arrangement by the Ensemble Galilei is Woodycock. Others, such as The Black Nag  have also been played and rearranged for three and a half centuries by many musicians in many styles.

Dancing Master 9/11/11, ink and acrylic on paper, 10 x 11, 2011.

I think of little old dancing masters going from great house to great house, teaching children the complicated patterns of the English set dances. I think of the itinerant musicians, and the loneliness of those people who did not have a home, who lived apart, neither landowner nor servant, who lived on the pleasures and whims of others, and who made gaiety even if they did not feel it. Sometimes all one can do is dance a little while in the company of others. The music haunts, because it seems to me to suggest all of that.

Jig, acrylic, ink, conte crayon and water soluble crayon on paper, 16 x16, 2011

I think of pattern, the wonderful quarterings of those tunes, the divisions that take the tune into a more and more abstract region with each turn.... taking the simple line as far as possible into complication with, often, just one instrument. And I think of the twirling dancers swinging back and forth in space, making into three and four dimensions all the joys and complications of our brief turn on this swiftly rotating planet.