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General          The Great Buffens Challenge          Performances          Resources

General

In the autumn of A.S. XXXVI (2001) a subgroup of Accademia della Danza began practicing Thoinot Arbeau's sword dance, Les Bouffons.  From these practices emerged The Carolingian Buffens Team (or CBT as we sometimes call ourselves - we don't care if some think that acronym stands for something else, we know it stands for Carolingian Buffens Team).  One can only wonder at the humble beginnings of CBT, because CBT is now anything but humble.

We are proud - - and with good reason.  We have not merely danced Les Bouffons as described by Arbeau (and danced it extremely well!), we have also innovated and adapted the dance to fit our needs and desires.  We have danced it for four, we have danced it for six, we have even dabbled at dancing it for three!  Who knows how next we shall innovate?  Who but we have shown such prowess in Les Bouffons?

But even that is not the whole of it, no!  We have issued a challenge that has, as yet, gone wholly unanswered.  Who will break the silence by daring to match belled legs and helmeted heads with us?

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The Great Buffens Challenge

We issued the following challenge by sending it to the Letter of Dance, where it was printed in issue 41, April A.S. XXXVI (2002):

We know you're out there!

We, the Carolingian Buffens Team do issue this challenge to other Buffens teams across the Knowne Worlde:

Long have we practiced our thrusts and polished our shields, and none who attended Seigneur de la Tour du Lac's recent Feste or the Black Rose Ball could help but proclaim our mighty prowess!

Now we hear rumors that other Buffens teams are forming and practicing, and we say BRING THEM ON!  Practice your cuts and send your best to meet us.  We shall hold the field against any who dare stand before us, and they will shiver in fear at the bold clash of our swords and the mighty capers of our feet!

Humbly,

The Carolingian Buffens Team (Charter member of IBBL*):

Lord Orlando de Medici
Gwen ap Madyn, GB
Myndroh of Carolingia
Justin l'Ace du Calais
Lady Matilda of Carolingia
Lord Duncan of Carolingia
Arglywdd Phelan ab Emrys
Lady Pamelina of Avon

* - The Interbaronial Buffens League.  Interested parties are invited to contact IBBL at IBBL@mit.edu.


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Performances

Note: If anyone has photos of CBT in action, please contact me. Thanks!

09 February A.S. XXXVI (2002)

  • Event:  La Feste a La Tour du Lac
  • Details:  There were two performances this day.  The first was part of the ballet de cour performed the afternoon of the event; Medusa and her gorgon sisters danced two figures of Les Bouffons before Perseus broke up the set (music for this, as well as for the rest of the ballet de cour, was provided by the Carolingian Waytes).  Later that same day the CBT appeared on its own, performing the complete dance for the enjoyment of all assembled at the lower hall's collation (music provided by Phelan on pipe and tabor).
  • Participants:  Lord Duncan of Carolingia, Gwen ap Madyn (GB), Master Justin du Coeur, Lord Orlando de Medici, Lady Pamelina of Avon, Arglywdd Phelan ab Emrys, and the Carolingian Waytes.

08 June A.S. XXXVII (2002)

  • Event:  Carolingian Baronial Investiture
  • Details:  Everyone knew we would again be dancing Les Bouffons in the evening.  What they didn't know was that it would feature six dancers rather than four.  CBT had been busy developing and rehearsing a six-person version of the dance.  And because it was not quite exhausing enough as recorded by Arbeau, we added a figure.  OK, that's not really why we did it, it was actually because we came up with two possible six-dancer variations of the bastion passage and decided they were both worth dancing.  We also debuted our snazzy helmets and azure & or baldrics (music provided by the Carolingian Waytes).
  • Participants:  Gwen ap Madyn (GB), Master Justin du Coeur, Lady Matilda of Carolingia, Myndroh of Carolingia, Lord Orlando de Medici, Arglywdd Phelan ab Emrys, and the Carolingian Waytes.  Lord Duncan of Carolingia, while not part of this performance set, was also an important part of both the preparations and the performance.
  • Pictures:  (select a thumbnail to view at full size, roughly 640x480):
    (Photos by Lady Matilda of Carolingia)
       Six weary dancers pose for posterity: CBT
       Our noble baron is enticed to join us: CBT
       Another photo of dancers and baron: CBT
       Lord Duncan appears to be in peril: CBT

08 February A.S. XXXVII (2003)

  • Events:  Queen's Court and Black Rose Ball
  • Details:  Another day of two performances, but this time they were in different baronies - one in Carolingia and the other in the Bridge.  We had been tipped off by the autocrat of Queen's Court that there had been a "clamour" for another CBT appearance, and we didn't want to disappoint.  So, as event attendees were eating their lunch we appeared and performed.  The crowd was still reeling from (and applauding) our spectacular showing when HRM Isabella summoned us before her and presented Golden Lyres to each of us involved with this performance.  Later that same afternoon, CBT journeyed southward to the Barony of the Bridge, where we had agreed to perform for the pleasure of Black Rose Ball attendees.  Helmets shone, swords clashed, bells rang, and the audience applauded (music for both performances provided by Phelan on pipe and tabor).
  • Participants:  Gwen ap Madyn (GB), Lord Duncan of Carolingia, Lord Myndroh of Carolingia, Lord Orlando de Medici, and Arglwdd Phelan ab Emrys.  Master Justin du Coeur, while not part of either performance set, was also involved in the preparations for these performances.
  • Pictures:  (coming soon!)

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Resources

Some useful resources for study of Les Bouffons (Note: external links):

  • The Library of Congress' An American Ballroom Companion site.  Contains scanned images of dance manuals in the LoC's collection, as well as general information on each manual.  This collection includes Orchesographie.
  • Facsimile edition of Orchesographie (1596 edition).  Published in 1972 by Minkoff, this facsimile is available from Dance Books.
  • Nicolas Graner's Orchesographie site.  The site, which is entirely in French, includes transcription, notes, and music (music in both image files and ABC notation).
  • The 1967 Dover Publications edition of Orchesography.  This widely available paperback is the 1948 Mary Stewart Evans translation, with a new introduction and notes by Julia Sutton (ISBN 0-486-21745-0).
  • For information on our six-person version, see "The Buffens for Six", an article by Justin du Coeur appearing in Letter of Dance issue #43, October A.S. XXXVII (2002).

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This page belongs to and is maintained by Jeremy H. Kessler.  It was last updated on 04 April 2004.
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