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Njall and 'Ballad Dancing'

Martin Graebe 01 Jul 02 - 06:01 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Jul 02 - 10:16 PM
masato sakurai 01 Jul 02 - 10:28 PM
Martin Graebe 02 Jul 02 - 03:41 PM
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Subject: Njall and 'Ballad Dancing'
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 06:01 PM

In preparation for our trip to Iceland at the end of this month (following in the tracks of Sabine Baring-Gould) Shan has been reading the Icelandic Sagas as her contribution to the pre-trip research. In Njall's Saga she has found a reference to there being a choice of evening's entertainment - that they could either hear a saga or do 'Ballad Dancing'. Anyone know what Ballad Dancing was in this context?


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Subject: RE: Njall and 'Ballad Dancing'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 10:16 PM

It has often been said, as you know, that both the ballad and the carol used to involve dance as well as song. Most of my books are still in boxes (including my copy of Njal) so all I can add here is a brief quote from Holger Nygard's The Ballad of Heer Halewijn; it relates to the Danish tradition, but may be marginally relevant. Nygard has been making the point that Ballad collecting in 16th and 17th century Denmark was mainly an aristocratic pursuit:

"The length of the Danish variants is explained by this literary tradition; the nobles wished their ballads to be long in order that the dance, for which the ballad provided the music, might be of comely length."

A quite formal and courtly dance by then, it seems, but danced to a sung (and narrative) rather than instrumental accompaniment. I have some vague memory of an Icelandic analogue, but I can't place it. Others will be able to, and turn up more useful and specific details.

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Subject: RE: Njall and 'Ballad Dancing'
From: masato sakurai
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 10:28 PM

Not Icelandic. Faroese Chain Dance (or Ballad Dance) is explained HERE.


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Subject: RE: Njall and 'Ballad Dancing'
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 03:41 PM

Malcolm, Masato Thanks for the suggestions. The Faroese connection is a potentially strong link, given its relationship to Iceland. But the Danish connection may be even stronger. Then again since Iceland was originally settled by Irish monks ..... but that's another thread!


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