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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The (modern?) Bull Dance (II)

To recap briefly: Bull Dancing is way awesomer than the modern day Bull Fight, so what happened?

Well. First of all, Crete fell and the Minoan civilization, such as it was,* collapsed. (Perhaps because Theseus slayed a Minotaur?) The long and the short of it is, we have no real idea or evidence for what happened. Mycenae seems to have conquered them, and then not long after that we have the Dark Ages where we know absolutely nothing about what went on outside of the oral history of Homer's epics.

Not that we really have a lot of information on Mycenaean Greece, either, outside of the palace life, but the major point of all this is that Bull Dancing did not make the LEAP to the mainland of Greece whereby it might have been preserved and passed on to common culture. There's some stylistic art representing it--Mycenae stole a lot of art from the Minoans--but no evidence that it ever took place within Greece itself.

Except the bull dance isn't really dead. Cow-Leaping (aka Course Landaise) is still practiced in modern day France, and Bull-Leaping (aka Recortes) takes place in parts of Spain (seriously, there's pole vaulting involved! and the bull totally survives to be leapt another day!). Wikipedia even suggests that there's a practice of bull leaping in India as well--though there obviously is no proof that any of this descends at all from the Minoans.

There are a few clips of bull-leaping in France online. That link will take you to some really crazy guys who tie their legs together before jumping. I'm not kidding. It's fantastic. But this is maybe my favorite youtube video-- it's about 5 minutes long, but has some great information.

and this video is pretty great at giving an overview of the array of stunts, from pole vaulting to leaping somersaults, and so on:

*Minoan and Mycenaean are Archaeological terms, really. We know there was a Palace at Knossos. We know there were a bunch of palaces on the Greek mainland, including a fantastic site in Mycenae. Did they refer to themselves as Minoans? HIGHLY unlikely. Minos was kind of cursed after all.

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