Thursday, February 16, 2017

15 February 2017 – Westchester

The dances taught last night were:-

Caffeine Dreams  –  (32 J n Circle mixer)  – Price
Chased Lovers  –   (32 J 3)  – Tim Wilson
Flower of Glasgow  –  (32 S 3/3L)  – Ruth Taylor
Catch the Wind  –  (32 H 3)  –  Butterfield
St. Faolon of the Woods  –  (32 J 3)  – Smith
Mason's Apron  –  (32 R 3)  –  Border Bk.

Hedwig's Reel  –  (32 R 3)  –  2nd Graded
Strathglass House  –  (32 S 3)  –  Bk 13
Falls of Rogie  –  (32 R 3)  – Attwood

*** *** ***

Caffeine Dreams:- A circle  mixer for as many as will.  It achieved life after 'she who must be obeyed' made a comment that she couldn't find a simple circle warmup dance that had turns in it. So I suggested she write one. She suggested strongly that it was easy for me not so easy for her.

Since I was on my unusual second cup of coffee I did. The result was unmentionable, as most of the figures cut across the musical phrases. Not easy. So I rethought and rewrote and came up with this.

1–4    All adv. & ret. ;
5–6    men adv.,
7–8     ladies adv,. as men turn over R shoulder and dance out. (Cpls pass by R shoulders and face right into…).
9–16    All turn partner RH back to place (1_1/4 - ladies face out, men in) ; all turn corner (neighbor)  LH once round back to original places (ladies face out, men in).
17–24    All join hands and balance, turn ptnr RH half round ; join hands (ladies face in/men out) and balance, and turn next corner LH half round (you have left your partner).

25–32    With the next person turn RH (1_1/4) into promenade hold facing anti-CW ; promenade for 4 bars. With new partner face in to reform the circle.

It was confusing and I am puzzled why that was so.  It was the first teaching of a new dance so it could be the words I used were not sufficient. It could be the dance sucks, which is different from unworkable.

If anyone wold pick this dance up, try it out, and inform me of the result I would greatly appreciate it.

Chased Lovers:- Nice Dance!! From Tim Wilson who is writing some absolutely top notch dances these days. The Docent's Tour, The Elusive Muse and Linnea's Strathspey are three that come to mind. This dance is definitely a keeper and is going on my Top 50 list.

Flower of Glasgow:-  Another nice little dance from Ruth Taylor. It contains a 3C circulating Allemande and there is a family resemblance to Swirling Snow. A thumbs up.

Catch the Wind:- Around here this is part of the standard repertoire. It is a good dance and nothing more needs be said of the dance. The music however…  The music I used last night was not the set usually used.

I have two copies of the dance. One published in The Island Bay Collection, one published by the RSCDS. In the Island Bay version the "name" tune is "Flirtation Hornpipe." In Bk 45 the tune see by the Society is "The Navvie".  I have three recordings, only the one by The Music Makars uses "Flirtation Hornpipe" - so The Question  - which one is correct?

St. Faolon of the Woods:- This one is not on any upcoming ball. It is from my list of Winter Specials. These are dances that I have never done and have caught my eye and I need to try them out. (I am always in search of hidden gems that might be the next Montgomeries' Rant). This one isn't going to be that. But it is a fun one.

Learned at the last Asilomar Weekend where it was done Sunday morning when the dancers are all tired and a bit hung over. And it went smoothly, more smoothly than it went last night.

Using my class in New Haven, CT to test a dance for public consumption is not a fair test. The class is predominately experienced and advanced. Using the Loch Leven Performance Team for guinea pigs is also not a fair test. Using the Westchester group which, is very mixed, is a very fair test of a dance.

Upshot of the trial is that it deserves a second test, and a test in which I teach it carefully and thoroughly with no assumptions. I like it, I would willingly do it again, and I would like to be in touch with Andrew Smith the devisor as I have a couple of questions for him.

Hedwig's Reel:- Yikes! I would not choose to open a ball with this dance! Granted no pas de basque, no slip step. But it moves and it is not what I would consider at all gentle, especially not gentle enough for a warmup/opening dance. It requires a good degree of high level technique. Footwork be damned  - it's the handing, phrasing, anticipation and transitions that need a lot of practice. Deceptively simple dances make good teaching dances. This is one of them.

Falls of Rogie:- Local standard repertoire and a great ender. Lots of Fun!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

8 February 2017 - Westchester

'Tis the season for Ball Prep so that was most of last night's program. The New Haven Highland Ball Coming up Real Soon, then New Jersey's Rerr Terr, the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance and New York's Pawling Weekend. Sometimes I actually remember it is not all on my shoulders.

The Dances:-

Waltzing to Iowa  -  (32 W circle)  -  Schneider
EH3 7AF  –  (32 J 3)  – Bk 40 (Goldring)
The Johnsonville Diamond  –  (32 S 2)  –  Downey
On the Wings of a Skorie  –  (32 R 3)  – Herbold
The Wishing Well  –  (32 S 2)  – Bk 44 (Bänninger)

John Cass  –  (32 J 5)  –  Bk 49 (Avery)
Singing Sands  –  (32 S 3/3L)  –  Priddey
The Black Leather Jig  –  (32 R 3)  – DelValSilver (Selling)

** ** ** ** **

Waltzing to Iowa:- I picked this dance up from the conversation on Strathspey. I had to. My mother was from Iowa, my sister lives in Iowa, my partner's late husband was from Iowa. Too many connections. Then there is the fact that it is a very nice dance with many interactions with partners past and present.

EH3 7AF:- One of the standards.

The Johnsonville Diamond:- Two thumbs up, and if I had a third hand it would get three.
The opening 8 bars has gotten mixed reviews. Several dancers have shrugged and several others have huge grins and love the "spurning" aspect should you choose to go there.

The next eight bars is a figure of eight - which some dancers have embroidered by turning it into a double figure.

The third figure is a very modified Spiral progression. And it is lovely. Worth every bit of trouble teaching - it is a meanwhile, with a high 'piece' count, needs a lot of words and demonstrating. Take your time teaching it, stress the covering and enjoy it.

Final piece - poussette.

Rod Downey's four books are available for download here.

On the Wings of a Skorie:- Oh my. Just a little over the top. Bruce plays with a standard set and link and the dancers were standing bemused when they needed to move. The flow of the dance dictated the reversal of roles. Me, I had no problem but I am considered a dance monster. I think that with familiarity the dance will become easier. I love the very different down the middle and up.

The Wishing Well:-  The theme of the night - The Spiral (modified for strathspey) and Poussette Right Round.  A pleasant solid repertoire dance.and a good dance with which to teach the Spiral.

John Cass:-  Why are five couple dances so much fun? This dance isn't exactly hard, but a reel of three with three shadows and dolphin lead changes by each twosome apparently takes some getting used to. I give it a thumbs up. Worth all the effort.

The Singing Sands:-  I have never understood why so many dancers have so much difficulty with half diagonal Right&Lefts. Obviously I am missing something.

The dance is by the late Barry Priddey so I am prejudiced in its favour. It is actually simpler than many other of his dances if you consider his Tourbillon to be simple. Around here it is being done enough that dancers are becoming familiar, even comfortable, with it. I find the final progression delightful. It is one of those mystery things where, at the end, you look around and say "how did I get here?" It is the double diagonal half rights and lefts leaves people shaking their heads in confusion and, sometimes, the set in breakdown despite the many times it has been taught.

Bottom line - leaves me smiling.

The Black Leather Jig:- which is a reel   :-)  ** Recommended **

I urge you to find a source for the CD Thistle House Live - by said band. The musician are Dave Wiesler, David Knight and Dan Emory. The music is spectacular! This set (also appropriate for Sleepy Maggie) is dynamite!

And the dance is pretty good too.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

1 February 2017 -– Westchester

Steady teaching has returned to my life

Last night was the first of the new series in Westchester and the turnout appeared light. We eked out two four couple sets for most of the evening and none of the dancers needed 'teaching'. They were all experienced so it boiled down to geography lessons.

I had planned to warm up with Waltzing to Iowa but there weren't enough dancers that early to make a decent sized circle. Quick switch to More Bees A-Dancin' from the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program and once again I was surprised by the simplicity of the dance and how enjoyable it continues to be.

There are four programs coming up in this area: The New Haven Highland Ball, The NJ Rerr Terr,
The Kilts and Ghilies Tea Dance, and  the NY Pawling Weekend. And there is very little overlap on the programs. Interesting times indeed.

Here is what we danced:–

More Bees A-Dancing  –  (32 R 3)  – Goldring
Campbell's Frolic  –  (32 J 3)  –  15/3
Aging Gracefully  –  (32 S 3)  –  47/4
Toast to the Mousies  –  (32 R 3)  –  Gratiot
New Abbey  –  (32 S 2)  –  Goldring

Scottish Reform  –  (32 J 2)  –  3/1
Zytglogge  –  (32 R 3)  –  Blackburn
Asilomar Romantic  –  (32 S 3)  –  SF 2
Deil Amang the Tailors  –  (32 R 3)  –  14/7


More Bees A-Dancin'  –  Simple and sweet. It says something that a simple dance can continue to be fresh after several dancings.  It made it onto the Kilts and Ghillies program after my co-teacher brought it to my attention. She didn't need a two by four to get my attention but it was a close thing. I  have certainly read the dance over, probably more than once over the years but it never 'caught' me. Well that is now over and I now give it a thumbs up.

Campbell's Frolic:-  Not a 'skip to the loo' dance but close, very close. To say there are better dances would be a serious understatement. Which begs the question - why are there so few really exciting jigs in the RSCDS repertoire? That is changing with the new publications but traditionally? I shudder to think of it.

Aging Gracefully:-  This one is interesting. There is some serious interpretation necessary with this dance.

9-12      1st woman and 2nd man set advancing and, giving both hands, turn once round.
13-16    1st woman and 2nd man, passing by the right, dance into each other's places and set.

Where do you end the turn? Seriously, where do you end that turn?  The instructions say only 'once round'. How far is that? You have advanced setting, so do you end the turn where you started it, in the middle? Or do you end it back in place? Both are doable. Both look lovely. Both are interpretations as the written instructions do not specify.

I first taught the dance was way back when Book 47 was published and I taught it with the dancers  finishing the turn in the middle (not going back to place) but extending the movement of the turn into the right shoulder pass.  Then I watched the video for  Surprising Hannah and saw a different way. There is a  precision, a strength there that has its own beauty to recommend it so last night I taught it with the turn ending back in place. It is going to take some more coaching to get the dancers to 'flow' in to the pass shoulders, but when that happens…

The dance works either way. It is beautiful either way. It gets a thumb up either way. And any 'rules', advice, or decree from any one is simply personal preference aka interpretation. I liked it both ways, and the dancers liked it as I taught it last night. (They don't remember that I taught it the other way). Bottom line - doesn't matter which version you teach, there is no 'one correct way' and both times the dancers gave it a thumbs up.

New Abbey:- Roy Goldring specified that this dance was doable in either strathspey tempo or jig time.
Jig time is one thing, a two couple strathspey 8 times through is something else. At the Pawling Welcome Dance it will be done as a jig. Thank God.

Last night one set rewrote the dance. Instead of ending with RH Across ; LH back they began ending each round with Poussette Right Round.  IMHO an improvement.

Toast to the Mousies:-  The first of my "Winter Specials". I learned it last fall at the Asilomar Weekend. I like it. A lot. And I want a dancing arrangement of Keith Smith's tune. (See Muriel and Keith's CD Highland Shortbread).

Basically a simple dance. There is only one figure that is unusual but it is not hard unusual, just  slightly unusual and easily taught.

Zytglogge:- I have said it all before so all I can add is - still fresh. It has an intrinsic rhythm that works. Two thumbs up.

Asilomar Romantic:-  Oh… My… Yes. Long time a favorite of mine and the music! Oh the music! The original set from The San Francisco Collection 2  CD is very good. The arrangement by Reel of Seven… I have no words. "Superb" is seriously deficient.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

24 January 2017 - New Haven

Last night was a workout. Two absolutely brand new dancers (and boy does New Haven need them).

First dance was Saw Ye My Wee Thing from the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program and it has IMHO the single most difficult figure in Scottish dancing - Rights and Lefts - which they mostly got.
Gold stars were given out.

The next dance was Campbell's Frolic. a poor choice. The formations weren't difficult but the piece count was fast and furious and too much to ask for from newbies.

Set, Right Hands Across, cast off.
Set Left Hands Across, cast off.
(a lot of new concepts and quick movements - a bit much for beginners)
Set, lead up, cast off

Getting the cast out of the Hands Across  was the hardest part, remembering which hand was also a problem but that got better.

These two dances took more than hour. I got bogged down and didn't see that more demonstrating and less talking …

In the second 'hour' we did three dances, the one we included the beginners in was More Bees A-Dancin'. They coped with the Reels of 3.  Actually really well considering it was their first or second  night.

The other two dances were 'specials' that I found as videos and just had to give a try. They called to me. Really they did.

The evening's dances were:-

Saw Ye My Wee Thing  –  (32 J 2)  –  25/9
Campbell's Frolic  –  (32 J 3)  –  15/3

Born to Dance  –  (32 J 3)  –  Gaye Collin
More Bees A-Dancin'  –  (32 R 3)  –  Goldring
Surprising Hannah  –  (32 S 3)  – Gaye Collin


Born to Dance: This one bent my mind into a pretzel the few times I watched the video. this is my second teaching of the dance and I found the tricky piece not so tricky this time. The important piece, out of the half hands across, is to impress on the dancers that the chase ends in lines of three across, men down, ladies up.

It received a solid round of applause, two thumbs up from several dancers, and is right on the edge of getting a Golden Ghillie Award. It shines!

More Bees A-Dancin':- "Good dance". This from the floor! And it is a good dance. It is simple and enjoyable.

Surprising Hannah:-Another very good dance from Gaye Collin. This has no convoluted spaghetti choreography. All it has are simple pieces that require GOOD technique: strong steps, timing, handing and all covered. And dancing it with mastery is the joy. Two thumbs up from the floor.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance - Band

We have found a fiddler!

We are proud to announce that

Dave Wiesler and Katie McNally

will be the band for 

The Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance

to be held on Sunday April 30th 2017

Sunday, January 15, 2017

15 January 2016 - Loch Leven

G'day y'all,

It was supposed to be a rehearsal this afternoon but with only three couples it became more of a 'reminder' session. We are supposedly prepping for a video taping session. The four dances we are working on are Pinewoods Reel (there is no, I am sorry to say, decent video of it that I have found), Zytglogge; The Shores of Solway and The Abbot of Unreason.

It is not, however, working out the way we planned! I intended to hand out the dance instructions for the new set when we finished the taping of the previous set,  come in the next week ready to learn the geography and come in on week three ready to refine and do the taping. Basically working on a two to three week cycle. So far three… months and counting. I really, really, want to be done with  this set and through the next two sets and have them published before the Kilts and Ghilllies Tea Dance. (April 30th).

We ran through the dances 3 times each (once and to the bottom for each couple0 and then moved on to the fun stuff.

Zytglogge  –  (32 R 3)  –  Blackburn
The Waggle o' the Kilt  –  (40 J 3)  –  Cosh
A Couple of Keepers  -  (32 S 3 set)  -  Herbold & Cobb
Born to Dance  –  (32 J 3  –  Gaye Collin


Zytglogge:-  this is a keeper. It isn't a 'rewarding when you get it' dance. Rather it has a rhythm and flow that is just plain hugaliciously satisfying. It is a  'two thumbs up' keeper and if it as satisfying the next time I dance it the number of thumbs will go up to 3!

The Waggle o' the Kilt:-  I learned this dance all too many years ago and I hated it. Wednesday I was in a class where the same teacher taught it again. I liked it better but another dancer in the class, who is also in Loch Leven, wanted to dance it again but with all the possible twiddles (aka kilt waggles). So we did the whole thing… well let's be truthful, we over did the whole thing.

I get it. I finally get the dance. There are places to tastefully twiddle. In moderation the dance is a good one and if you also take mild liberties with some of the prescribed timing the dance is lovely.

The last 16 bars are two corner chain figures to get them home. Written as follows:
1-2      1C change 3rd corners in RH
3-4      corners change in the middle  (Turn LH 1_1/2 )
5-6      corners change 1C in RH - corners home.
7-8      1C turn LH to face 4th corner.

Do-able. Takes strong, knowledgable dancers to do it well, but do-able.

I am still able to dance it as written (praise be) but I find I like to dance it as follows:

1-       1C change 3rd cornerss in RH
2-4     corners change in the middle  (Turn LH 1_1/2 in 3 bars )
5-       corners change 1C in RH
6-8    1C turn LH to face 4th corner

And if you would rather add a kilt flip or are not able to dance it as written then:

1-2      1C change 3rd cornerss. in RH
3-4    corners Turn LH 1/2 and twirl (or not) to face away
5-6      corners change 1C in RH
7-8      1C turn LH to face 4th corner

End of story.

A Couple of Keepers:- Boy did I muck this one up. I only thought I was prepared because when I taught it we found my notes were not adequate. But when we finally worked it all out we found the notes were almost correct and it was my memory that was inadequate. Note that we loved the dance when we had it worked out but it takes *careful* prep and teaching as the orientations and formations are unusual.

The dance is for Tim Wilson and his partner Sylvain. (Did I mention that Bruce likes word games?) and the dance too is a keeper. It is going on my Top 50 list and on the short list for Kilts and Ghillies 2018.

Born to Dance:- Love it!  Gaye Collin plays with your mind and I just LOVE IT!     Dance: Born to Dance | SCDDB

Take a look, fall in love. Teach it, dance it, and spread it around.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

29 November 2016 - New Haven

My monthly class in New Haven has moved physically and temporally.
The class is now on Tuesdays, not Mondays and to support the New Haven Branch class I have moved out of the Friends Meeting into the class' space - The Whitneyville Cultural Commons, 1253 Whitney Ave., Hamden, CT.

The space is small, the floor is good. The experience is… interesting shall we say.

The issues are aging and culture. The class is aging out of existence. I started in New Haven in 1976. I was one new dancer among three sets of beginners. Halfway through the evening we joined the other class, which also had at least three sets. Now the class is down to 5 couples. We have no dancers from any of the colleges or universities. Not Yale, not the Univ. of New Haven, Southern Connecticut State, Quinnipiac, or Albertus Magnus. No young folks - neither public school students nor home school.

Culturally the teachers in New Haven have been nit pickers. The class has always been, until recently, more than capable and has benefited from the nits. Times have changed. Now nit picking picks the joy out of the dancing. And having learned to dance and teach in New Haven I have to include myself in that culture. There is a problem - beginners don't come back.

The group currently has two courageous beginners. They have kept coming back. They are in their seventies, they are not going to develop turnout. It just isn't going to happen. Proper foot positions and point - very unlikely. A dip at the beginning of the strathspey step? Now that is a possibility and that is all I asked for from them. Did I get it? Kinda sorta. But that was good enough for one night. Next class a reminder and maybe another small point. The key is not to ask for too much at one time. The short form –– Keep it Simple (stupid).

The first hour of the class is geared to the two beginners and we did three dances:

The Findlays' Jig __ (32 J 3)__ Goldring
The Shores of Solway__ (32 S 3)__ Goldring
Anderson's Rant__ (32 R 3)__ MMM

How did they do? Fairly well.  Mrs K has trouble stepping out and covering ground. She tends to catch on to the geography faster than Mr. K. He has a tendency to hold on for dear life and back up into place. He hates to let go and dance forward. I think he loses his sight cues? The Findlays' Jig has few opportunities for him to indulge himself.

In The Shores of Solway there are more such opportunities and he managed to find most of them. But he managed the Knot, and the Set and Flirt. And, though he often backed into place, he was mostly when and where he needed to.

Anderson's Rant was the real test. Mr. K has real difficulty with reels. This was his best showing - the shape is beginning to happen, the pattern seems to be taking, not to the point of knowing, but he is taking cues and mostly looking up and being aware. It wasn't the 'haul him through it' that I have been seeing.

And they got through 3 dances instead of the usual 2 and in respectable fashion.

We also did three dances in the second hour (which is for experienced dancers):

Joe Foster's Jig__(32 J 3/3L)__Noden
R. A. Gregg__(32 R 3)__Price
Cardross House__(32 S 3)__Brunken

I learned Joe Foster's Jig from a NYC teacher. He taught it to a set of reels. (Fire in the Rye - The Music Makars). The dance is on the upcoming Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance. I wasn't thinking clearly and programmed the dance in a jig slot - well it IS a jig! (Sorry Fergie).

I got some very strange looks as I taught it.They liked the dance but they loved that reel music! And since it is on the Tea Dance program they wanted THAT music. Oh their disappointment when they realized there would be a different band with a different sound, a different arranger, different tunes, and a different time signature. Oh well - they will cope.

R. A. Gregg is a dance I am writing. The dance is evolving out of a video purporting to be of Pinewoods Reel. There is a resemblance, it is a very interesting interpretation but I don't think they ever saw the dance or the written instructions. Here, watch it, enjoy.

So 1C are dancing petronella turns during the Double Triangles?? Hmmm. Play Time!

Danger Will Robinson! Danger!
That version of DTs goes against all muscle memory and training. Easier for beginners than dancers with miles under their belt I think.  Last night was a first time run through/experimental session. The feedback was "iffy". See above. The consensus - table it and maybe revisit.

The last dance of the evening was Elaine Brunken's dance Cardross House. To the original music by Muriel, Keith and Jim Lindsay. And that music takes this from good enough for standard repertoire into the exalted heights reserved for dances the like of Montgoeries' Rant, Delvine Side and Deil.

No kidding.

The music makes the dance. True. And the music is extraordinary. The dance is good. Standard formations, but Elaine played played with them. From good to… well not sublime. But dancers tend to fall into the music and forget to dance. And that makes it special. Just MHO.

Put it on your Wish list. Two thumbs up.

Monday, November 28, 2016

I Am Back

A lot was going on and most of it was ball prep. I find this very uninteresting both as a dancer and as a teacher because all the teachers in all the different classes pick all the same dances as needing review. 

I erred when signing up for Pinewoods - I got us in to the weekend and not both sessions as I was supposed to. But that error enabled us to sign up for the Asilomar weekend in October. He he he.

In October there was a wedding - and how does this all tie together? Well…

At Pinewoods I was introduced to a not so new but otherwise unknown dance from Switzerland - Zytglogge (32 R 3, Blackburn). Fun dance. Even when done plain jane and unadorned it is a fun dance and not difficult. Add some embroidery and it can go over the top into just plain silly. Highly recommended.  So highly recommended that Sandra Bethray and I put it on the upcoming Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program - April 30th (a Sunday - yes a Sunday) 2017.

At Keira and Marc’s Wedding Ball I met their band  (and a Very Good Band it was btw). I know of the band leader from a very nice CD self named for the musicians, fiddle player Peter Macfarlane and pianist Lilian Linden. I immediately hired Peter for the 2018 Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance. When I first heard their CD I wrote a dance to his jig Penobscott Bay (4th tune in a set of jigs 8x32 with the lead tune North Country) and used that fact to introduce myself. Peter wanted a copy of the dance and Sandra wanted it on the Tea Dance. Done.

Peter is a canoe builder in Vergennes, VT and leader of the Vermont Strathspey and Reel Society. Until I heard the CD he was unknown to me. The CD was an impulse buy and sometimes good things happen.

My dance is Eggemoggin Reach (named after a great Scottish body of water (riiight), a 32 J 3C/4L. 
There is a story here.    Sorry  :-)

In 1971 I attended the Hurricane Island Outward Bound program - rowing and sailing in Maine. Hurricane Island is in the Penobscott Bay as is the Eggemoggin Reach, a stunningly beautiful stretch of water, which we sailed as part of our weeklong ‘cruise’.

Fast forward to Asilomar where I met many lovely people and some very nice dances. A new one, not yet published, written to honor a lovely lady, who I met passing in a dance, is St. Faolan of the Woods (32 J 3/4L) by Andrew Smith. Not yet in the SCDDB - pooh. I do have the notes! Also shortlisted for the K&G Tea Dance in 2018.

The Summer:-

Spent, mainly, trying out dances for the Tea Dance.

1 August 2016 - Scotia Club (Manhattan west side)

This class was team taught by myself and at least three other teachers - Purpose - for fun.

Carols A-Plenty               32 J 3      Lou Hanson (my Portland Mermaid)
Abbot of Unreason          32 J 3      Milton Levy (of NYC and Gang the Same Gate)
Cranberry Tart                 32 J 3 Terry Glasspool
Johnsonville Diamond 32 S 2 Rod Downey
Bill Little’s Strathspsey 32 S 4 Roy Goldring
New Virginia Reel 128 R 4 sq Anna Holden
Orpington Caledonians 32 R 3 J. Brenchley
Sleepy Maggie 32 R 3 Bk 11/5
The Laurel Jig 32 J 3 Sawyer (unpub)
Balquidder Strathspey 32 S 3 Bk 24/2

8 August 2016 - Scotia

As before, team taught.

Johhny’s New Jig 32 J 2 Kass
Old Way of Killiecrankie 48 R 3 set RSCDS Leaflet
Wee Cooper o’ Fife 40 J 2 Foss
Saint John River 32 S 4 P. Edwards
Startled Rabbits 32 R 5 D. Haynes
Eightsome Reel 464 R 4 sq Bk 2/12
Dundee Whaler 32 S 4 Clowes
John Cass 32 J 5 Bk 49/10
Australian Ladies 32 R 3 Campbell

9 August 2016 - New Haven

Waltzing to Iowa 32 W circle Schneider
Johhny’s New Jig 32 J 2 Kass
Saint John River 32 S 4 P. Edwards
Scott Meikle 32 R 4 Bk 46/3
John Cass 32 J 5 Bk 49/10
Zytglogge 32 R 3 Blackburn

14 August 2016 - Loch Leven Dancers (rehearsal)

Screaming Eels 32 J 3 Princess Bride
Zytglogge 32 R 3 Blackburn
The Shores of Solway 32 S 3 Goldring
Abbot of Unreason 32 J 3 Milton Levy
Kildonan Sands 32 S 3 Goldring
Pinewoods Reel 32 R 3 JBD

16 August 2016 - New Haven

Espie McNabb 32 J 3 MMM
Anderson’s Rant 32 R 3 MMM
Shores of Solway 32 S 3 Goldring
Banks of Allen 32 J 2 MMM*
Abbot of Unreason 32 J 3 Levy
Les Remparts des Séville 32 J 3 Bk 50/2
Miss Nidra Aitken 32 S 3 set F. Walduck

23 August 2016 – New Haven

Brudenell Jig 32 J 3 2nd Graded
No         32 R 3 set Joubert
Bridge of Nairn 32 S 3 Bk 13/11
Joe Foster’s Jig 32 J 3 set Noden
Miss Nidra Aitken 32 S 3 set Walduck
The Baldooser 32 J 3 Priddey

The New Season (September)

27 September 2016 – New Haven 

Lovers’ Lane 32 J 3 set J. Lataille
Findlays’ Jig 32 J 3 Goldring
Thornycroft 32 R 2 Goldring
Birkenside 32 S 2 Goldring
Red Baron 32 R 2 Boyd
Abbot of Unreason 32 J 3 Levy
Portland Mermaid 32 S 3 Price
More Bees A-Dancing 32 R 3 Goldring

4 October 2016 - Kilts & Ghillies Program for 2017 set

Driving Through Eutaw 32 J 3 Leary
Shores of Solway 32 S 3 Goldring
Anderson’s Rant 32 R 3 MMM

John Cass 32 J 5 Bk 49/10
Johnsonville Diamond 32 S 2 Downey
No           32 R 3 set Joubert

Les Remparts des Séville 32 J 3 Bk 50/2
Chris Ronald’s Strathspey 32 S 3 Wallace
British Grenadiers         32 R 3 MMM

Abbot of Unreason 32 J 3 Levy
Robertson Rant 80 S 4 sq         Bk 39/8
Zytglogge 32 R 3 Blackburn

Joe Foster’s Jig 32 J 3 set Noden
Peggy Spouse MBE 32 S 3 Bk 46/11
More Bees A-Dancing 32 R 3 Goldring

Saw Ye My Wee Thing 32 J 3 MMM
Swirling Snow 32 S 3 set Taylor

Deil Amang the Tailors 32 R 3 Bk 14/7

28-30 October 2016 – Asilomar Weekend San Francisco Branch

I was there to have fun, and I did. I also found two dances:

St. Faolan of the Woods  32 J 3 Andrew Smith
A Toast to the Mousies         32 R 3 Sarah Gratiot

Pat Coyne taught these dances by Anna Holden:

Bannocks and Brose 32 J 3
From the Broomielaw 32 S 4
Miss Alison Little         32 R 2

I like her teaching. Sure she makes mistakes but her sense of humor is so dry it a joy.

1 November 2016 – New Haven

Pint o’ Ale is Fain 32 J 3 McMurtry
Betelgeuse 32 R 3 Gregg
Bedrule         32 S 3 Bk 33/7
Eggemoggin Reach 32 J 3 Price
Toast to the Mousies 32 R 3 Gratiot
St. Faolan of the Woods         32 J 3 Smith
Chris Ronald’s Strathspey 32 S 3 Wallace


The short form -
Chris Ronald’s Strathspey:- Good enough for a ball!

Orpington Caledonians:- Nice!! Fun music good dance.

St Faolan of the Woods:-  2  thumbs up.

Toast to the Mousies:-  I like the Keith Smith tune. I like the dance. 2 thumbs up.

Eggemoggin Reach:- Why is it so hard to get dancers to go big and wide and bold???

Pint o’ Ale:- A nice easy opening Jig.

Swirling Snow:- be careful, the allemande will bite you if you’re not careful. But nice!

More Bees A-Dancing:- Fun, but please forget Maggieknockater.

Joe Foster’s Jig:- I like it. I learned it as a reel. the teacher found nice 6x through reel music, no strike that, he found great

Zytglogge:- Find it, do it!!

British Grenadiers:- Why? Because of the Jim Lindsay music, he includes Radetsky March! Fun!

Anderson’s Rant:- Smoooth!

No:-  Scotland’s referendum, Brexit and Trump!! BTW it is a nice dance.

Miss Nidra Aitken:- Read better than it danced. Familiarity issue?

Portland Mermaid:- More difficult than I thought. Twice now I have had difficulty when teaching it. No name figures, nothing new, just the arrangement?

The Baldooser:- I like it. It reads harder than it dances and it dances similarly to John Drewry’s Flying Spur - it is 2 dances in 1. One dance for the corners another for the active couple. 

The Banks of Allen:- My opinion? AS written it is fun, mildly demanding and rewards the effort expended.
As interpreted in diagram - bloody awful!  Where does it say that 1st and 2nd couples, when they dance diagonally into the center, have to end with their backs to each other??  That is, IMHO, a gross misinterpretation of what is written. As a rule - keep it simple.

What I teach is- dance diagonally in or down- ending side by side with the other couple:

             2L 2M 1M 1L  
Now pivot and face the other couple      2M 1L
2L 1M
and continue, forming lines of four on the centerline and across the dance. Curve? Why? Just to make the dance a turkey?

Side Issue:- Any good Reel? The music is a jig!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

16 March 2016 – Westchester

A class of scarcity but with interesting developments.

The weather was awful, cold and rain, lots of rain. The turnout was low.
At the start of class there only five dancers so I pulled out one of my specials, Jane Lataille's Dragonflies. Which I love and which I do to the 5x32 S set by Susie Petrov off her vinyl album Hold the Lass Till I get Her. (The music helps make the dance).

A few more dancers drifted in and we made a circle. There had been a  discussion on Strathspey about this circle waltz and since I had the book I decided to try it out. It is a smashing dance it is it is.
Since I did not have the name tune for Waltzing to Iowa  I used "Penobscott Memory" by The White Cockade on their musical tape "Tartan Stew". The class loved it. There are some wonderful interactions between the dancers. Highly recommended.

Then on to a standard Australian Ladies, and I, once again, taught my Mermaid Jig - The Pawling Mermaid, followed my my Mermaid reel - The Palisades Mermaid. The dance went well enough and I saw what I needed to see to amend the final two bars of the reel. No way was anyone going to be comfortable turn RH 3/4 to end in 2nd place own sides and Plan B became operative.

The Mermaid dances worked which is really nice to know since they are going to be published Real Soon Now. i.e. someday. And a big 'thank you' to Keith Rose who started making diagrams for them before I even knew he had the directions.

The teaching of The Palisades Mermaid took enough out of the class that we ended with Sugar Candie and headed home.

The dances I taught:-

Dragonflies  -  (5x32 S 5some)  -  Jane Lataille
Waltzing to Iowa  -  (32 W n circle)  - D. Schneider
Australian Ladies  -  (32 R 3)  -  Campbell
The Pawling Mermaid  -  (32 J 3)  -  Price (unpublished)
Palisades Mermaid   -  (32 R 3)  -  Price (unpublished)
Sugar Candie  -  (32 S 3)  -  Bk 26/9

9 March 2016 - Westchester

Well, the first ball is over and done with. And a great weekend it was too. The band was Dave Wiesler, David Knight and Dan Emory. Fabulous!

The New Haven Highland Ball WeekendAt Westchester this w programs are here.

Only three more to go. Westchester has been added to the list even though we don't have a program yet and we have less than 60 days to go. Real Soon Now!!! Please?

At Westchester this week we taught the following:-

As a warmup...
The Ferryboat  -  (32 J ncircle)  - Let's All Dance (Hunt)
The Captain's House  -  (32 R 3)  - H. Boyd
Richard the Third  -  (32 S 3)  - Glasspool- 7 Year Itch
Orpington Caledonian  -  (32 R 3)  - Bk 49/2

The Rerr Terr Jig  -  (40 J 3)  - Trinkaus-Randall
Linea's Strathspey  -  (32 S 3)  - Bk 47 (Wilson)
Da Rain Dancin'  -  (32 R 3)  - Wallace

The Pawling Mermaid  -  (32 J 3)  - Price (unpublished)


The Ferryboat:- A very nice, simple, warm up dance, also good for audience participation, new dancers and whatever else you want. In my hip pocket for just hat reason.

The Captain's House:- I like it - Give it about a 92 :-)  Didn't know what to think of it when first it appeared on a NY Branch ball program but danced it once and fell for it. And, just to add to the fun, it was devised by Holly Boyd (Montreal) who was with Deborah and me in Portland at the TAC candidate class.

Richard the Third:-I have been teaching this dance to The Loch Leven Dancers as a performance dance. They are coming around and beginning to really enjoy it. I have also taught it to my class at the New Haven Friends Meeting. They gave it a Golden Ghillie award.  Now the Westchester club has been exposed to it and have also given it a positive response.

With that many good reviews you too should take a look at it.

Be aware that Terry is doing whatever he can to mess with your mind.

First he changes the timing of a standard figure of eight just a bit. It needs to end in the middle ready to give LH to partner, not on the sidelines. That LH turn is ALL the way around - not half- and is on the zesty side.

Secondly the right hands across, man up with 2C and lady down with 3C end with 1C closely back to back and the corners back out to place; then the circles of 3 go"back" to the right! and open up with 1M drawing 2C down onto the men's side and 1L drawing 3C up onto the ladies' side.

Thirdly he has a R&L for 3 couples. 2C and 3C change on the diagonal RH, ALL cross over LH; right diagonals cross RH, ALL cross LH. The key here- cross all the way onto the side lines every time. A wonderfully satisfying pulse develops when that happens and IMHO is the heart of the dance. Note that at the end of this last crossing 1C (making it a turn) is facing 3rd corner position!

Now comes the hardest part - half reels of four on the diagonal with a very zesty Left shoulder dance rounds to face 4th corner. Corners can not be slow! They need to be out of the way so 1C can start the second half reel only a half bar late - on time is almost impossible but worth striving for. The way I like to end the dance is with a second L shoulder dance round ending in the center but shoulder to shoulder and facing out own sides, from where you can cast in parallel with the new couple starting at the top.

I love this one!

Orpington Caledonians:- Reads nice and easy. In actuality, 'A Little Stinker" to steal a the words  from the  mouth of the great New England contra caller Ralph Page.

Control! You need to be aware and in control. Big Thumbs UP.

The Rerr Terr Jig:- Won in a raffle. A wee bit more of a challenge for beginners then we wished. Not bad. It won't make my top 50 list but it will be in the back of my mind for...

Linnea's Strathspey:-Another one for which I can say "I love this one".

Da Rain Dancin':- It is part of my standard repertoire. Another "I love this one!" IMHO the RSCDS need to publish this one and claim it as their own. It is better than most, and the music makes it!