Wednesday, June 28, 2017

15 May 2017 – Scotia

First Hour:

Bramble Circle  -  (32 J n Circle)  - Vandegrift
Lady Catherine Bruce's Reel  -  (32 J 2)  -  Graded
Rakes of Glasgow  -  (32 S 3)  -  Bk 11

Second Hour:

Cutty Sark  -  (32 J 3)  -  Bk 40
Asilomar Romantic  -  (32 S 3)  -  SF2
Flight of the Falcon  -  (32 J 3)  -  Priddey

*  *  *  *         *  *  *  *        *  *  *  *        *  *  *  *

This post is commit free - aren't you lucky!

8 May 2017 – Scotia

First Hour:-

The Loch Ness Monster  -  (32 R 1 Circle)  -  Boyd
Lady Wynd  -  (32 J 3)  -  Goldring
Lady Peak's Strathspey  -  (32 S 3)  -  Drewry

Second Hour:-

Say ye my wee thing  -  (32 J 2)  -  Bk 25
Gordon of Straloch  -  (32 S 3)  - Price
The Compleat Gardener  -  (32 J 3)  -  3rd Graded
Davy Nick Nack  -  (32 H 3)  -  Campbell

*  **  ***   ****    ** * **    ****   ***  ** *

Saw ye my wee thing:-  A simple mind free opening jig.

Gordon of Straloch:-  I wrote this while listening to the CD Waverley Station. Their set of strathspey airs had me entranced, especially the third and fourth tunes of the set. [Here] (Rorate Coeli/I Long for thy virginitie). The later is from the Gordon's Straloch lute book of 1627. [Rbt Gordon]

I was fascinated by this tune which is in a single phrase - all A no B part - and this dance came to me.

The Compleat Gardener:-  This dance will bite you if you rely on muscle memory.  The 2nd figure is a cross and cast movement that has 8 bars of music and about 9 bars of distance. Dancers want to stop on the sidelines in 2nd place. They need to get through the center to face their first corners. And not getting there can really screw up the Corners Pass & Turn.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

1 May 2017 – Scotia

First Hour:

The Fairy Ring  -  (32 J n circle)  -  Boyd
Quicksilver Reel  -  (40 R 3)  -  Harrison
Braes of Balquhider  -  (32 S 3)  -  18C
Anderson's Rant  -  (32 R 3)  -  MMM

Second Hour:

Catch the Wind  -  (32 R 3)  - Butterfield
Born to Dance  -  (32 J 3)  - Collin
Aging Gracefully  -  (32 S 3)  - Broman (Bk 47)
Once Upon a Time  -  (32 R 3)  -  Collin
Dancing in Kirkcudbright  -  (32 S 4)  - Collin
Deil Amang the Tailors  -  (32 R 3)  -  Bk 14

**  *  **  *  **  *  **  *  **  *  **  *  **  *  **

Catch the Wind :–  Why? Because it is a good beginner friendly dance.

Born to Dance:–  Why? Because it moves! The chase out of the Hands Across ends weird - your group of three splits up and the lines that form are all men or all women, and the lines spring forward! - no resting on your laurels, however well deserved.

This one is short listed for the next Kilts and Ghillies' Tea Dance, along with Dave Macfarlane's Reel, Surprising Hannah and Dancing in Kirkcudbright. One (or more) will be on the program!

Aging Gracefully:–  Why? because the move in Surprising Hannah caused me to rethink and revise the way I teach the middle 16 bars of this dance. I like the strength of the move from sideline to sideline. And if you are no longer as able as you once were you can still dance the turn BH into cross R shoulder from the midline and have it look good. And because the reel is different and fun!

Once Upon a Time:– Simple and sweet. Worth revisiting.

Dancing in Kirkcudbright:–  The whole dance is lovely, just lovely, but it is for those who have the brains that thrive on bent figures and transitions. Not all do.

Dancers especially liked the first figure. I had several positive comments. Shortlisted. Two thumbs up.

30 April 2017 - Sunday Tea Dance

The program:

Driving Through Eutaw          32 J 3
The Shores of Solway            32 S 3
Anderson'a Rant                    32 R 3

John Cass                              32 J 5
The Johnsonville Diamond      32 S 2
No                                         32 R 3/3l

Les Remparts de Séville          32 J 3
Chris Ronald's Strathspey        32 S 3
The British Grenadiers            32 R 3

The Abbott of Unreason         32 J 3
The Robertson Rant               80 S 4 square
Zytglogge                              32 R 3

Joe Foster's Jig                     32 J 3/3L
Peggy Spouse MBE                 32 S 3
More Bees A-Dancin'              32 R 3

Saw ye my wee thing            32 J 2
Swirling Snow                       32 S 3/3L
Deil Amang the Tailors          32 R 3

Program by Peter Price and Sandra Bethray.

The wonderful Band:  Dave Wiesler and Katy McNally:

25 April 2017 – New Haven

The last session of Ball Prep! Thank God!

Deborah's Request  -  (32 R 3 - as a jig)  -  Price
A Reel for Alice  -  (32 R 5)  -  Goldring
Shores of Solway  -  (32 S 3)  -  Goldring
Les Remparts de Séville  -  (32 J 3)  -  Latour (Bk 50)
Johnsonville Diamond  -  (32 S 2)  -  Downey
Anderson's Rant  -  (32 R 3)  -  MMM
Pat Morrison's Delight  -  (32 S 2)  -  Anagnostakis (Nutmeg Coll.)
Black Leather Jig  -  (32 R 3)  -  Selling  (DelVal25)

** * **     ** * **     ** * **     ** * **     ** * **

I really like A Reel for Alice, and I mean a lot! Inchmickery is the more popular 5 couple dance in this area, they can have it - I want this one. It was short listed for the Tea Dance but didn't make it on the program. It is again short listed for next year's tea dance and we will see. I will make no promises as other considerations might again rule it out. So we will see.

Shores of Solway grows on me. The central movement - set to corner dance 'round partner by the right - has a different name here. We call it "Set and Flirt" because Chris and Sue Ronald call it that in their dance Ann of Scotia (32 S 3 - Intl. Branch - World Wide Weavings).

How to put this? …

Eye contact can come in a variety of strengths. Some dancers simply can't. They can not even look you in the face but look at your chest, over your shoulder, etc. etc. But I think eye contact is social - it can be flirty but should not be a leer. Social. And if you are making anyone uncomfortable you are overdressed.

That said: the Set to corner and dance round partner is almost never done with any eye contact.
What I see are dancers so close together that they can not turn their head far enough to actually see their partner much less make eye contact. Bottom line - just plain ugly.

My solution - set to the right and set strongly enough to the left that you are past your partner and do not end back to back. Now a turn of head and you can see your partner as you dance around them. The movement is bigger and quite elegant. And if you both want it flirty it will be.
Note: the original instructions say "Set to fist corner and dance around each other by the right…"
They say nothing about ending the setting back to back with partner. Hmm.

24 April 2017 – Scotia

First Hour:-

Scotch Mixer  -  (32 R 1 RtR)  -  unknown
Jubilee Jig  -  (32 J 3)  -  RSCDS Leaflets
Davy Nick Nack  -  (32 R 3)  -  Campbell

Second Hour:-

Deborah's Request  -  (32 R 3)  - Price
Les Remparts de Séville  -  (32 J 3)  -  Bk 50 (Latour)
Surprising Hannah  -  (32 S 3 set)  -  Collin
More Bees A-Dancing  -  (32 R 3)  -  Goldring
John Cass  -  (32 J 5)  -  Bk 49 (Avery)
Reel of the 51st Division  -  (32 R 3)  - Bk 13

***   ***   ***   ** * **   ***   ***   ***

Still in April, still approaching The Kilts and Ghillies' Tea Dance, and still doing ball prep.

I wrote Deborah's Request at her request - kind of. There was a plaintive cry "I can't find any easy dances with plain four bar turns". So I wrote one for her. It is nothing special but it is a beginner friendly opening type dance.

Les Remparts de Séville is, in my opinion, just lovely. It has one moment that needs concentration - where you start Set to Corner-Partner on bar 3 of the phrase. Muscle memory definitely steers some dancers astray but I like those moments where the mind has to be engaged and you can't just coast.

Surprising Hannah is one of those wonderful simple dances that shines when the dancers are strong and enjoy technique. Note: In my humble opinion simple dances NEED great technique because doing something simple beautifully isn't easy. [video]

I love this one, and I can not decide if it is because the dance is so good or if I am simply in love with dancers who are so good that they impress without having to dress up. Probably both.

More Bees A-Dancin' by Roy Goldring, is beginner friendly - you are paired with your partner through most of the dance and for dancers not comfortable with reels that is rather helpful. The hardest part of the dance is the first phrase - Goldring is very specific, you lead down the middle and up with RH joined - you don't join hands in promenade hold until bar 9. I see too many dancers leading up in promenade hold no matter how strongly I word the directions.

And here is a lovely stinker of a dance - John Cass.  The formations are not individually difficult but the sum of the formations has some dancers dumbstruck. This is an example of a Deborah teaching point -- "staying in the dance" - being constantly aware of where you are and when you are involved.  Tandem reels no problem if you are with your partner. Big problem if you and a neighbor are starting the formation together and the two of you have not been otherwise involved. A cold start as it were.

The two points that seemed to help dancers the most;

1) 1st couple is facing the men's SIDE, not a corner, at the beginning of each reel.
2) In both reels the corner women begin their reels by dancing up or down the sideline. It really helps smooth out the timing.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

17 April 2017 – Scotia Party

We had a special night. Three musicians were visiting NY City from New Zealand - Sharlene Penman, Mary McDonald and Duncan - The Kilted Kiwis) so we put together a party. Oh Joy!

1    The Jubilee Jig                   32 J 3           Leaflets
2     New Abbey                         32 S 2          Goldring Gr2
3     Davy Nick Nack                  32 H 3          Campbell
4     Border Weavers                   32 S 3/3L     A. Gray - Tweeddale 2
5     The Cranberry Tart              32 J 3           Glasspool
6     The Johnsonville Diamond  32 S 2          Downey
7     Maxwell's Rant                     32 R 3         Bk 18

Tea Break

8     The Findlays' Jig                    32 J 3        Goldring
9     The Saint John River              32 S 4       Guide
10    The Kissing Bridge               32 R 3       Bk 47
11    Saw ye my wee thing            32 J 2        Bk 25
12    Ann of Scotia                        32 S 3       Ronald
13    Da Rain Dancin'                   32 R 3       Wallace

SCDDB Dance List [Here]

So the band was The Kilted Kiwis - Sharlene Penman -Piano, Mary McDonald Fiddle, and Duncan on snare drum and high hat and they were really good. I was especially impressed by Duncan. His sound was, without being miked, well balanced with the fiddle and piano. He did it with a variety of sticks which held the sharp cutting snare sound to a pleasant level and to a pleasant sound. Miracles of modern material science.

I was impressed, very impressed, and Sharlene and I are in, or will be very shortly a conversation concerning the  2019 Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance - I want them to play it, and I am not used to bands, or halls, booking 2 years ahead and Sharlene does. So, while I haven't even finalized the band for 2018, I am looking at dates for 2019.

April is the cruelest month - there is the threat of Passover, Easter, The New England Folk Festival, The Rerr Terr Ball, The New York Playford Ball and probably a few other events – all of them competing for four weekends in April. So far we have managed, but getting dates out of the other organizations (especially the 800 pound gorilla called NEFFA) is a task suitable for a Hercules.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

11 April 2017 – Ho Ho Kus

Substitute class - Kenwyn away and me in his place.

He sent me his class plan and I mostly kept to it, and it was mostly ball prep for the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance. (Again). It is a good thing that I like this program. Mostly the dances are still likable even after a lot of repetition.

The dances we did were:-

The Findlays' Jig  –  (32 J 3)  –  Goldring
Chris Ronald's Strathspey  –  (32 S 3)  – Wallace
Lady Susan Stewart's Reel  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 5/9

Fountainfall  –  (32 R 3)  – Wheater
Wisp of Thistle  –  (32 S 3)  –  Bk 37/4
General Stuart's Reel  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 10/3
Les Remparts de Séville  –  (32 J 3)  –  Bk 50/2
The Compliment  –  (32 S 2)  –  Goldring

*  **  ***   ** * **   ***  ** *

The Findlays' Jig:-  I like. Over time it becomes a wee bit tedious but it is a go to type jig. Nice and Simple. All it needs (if you are not blessed with class musicians) is a good tune.

Chris Ronald's Strathspey:- By Ron Wallace, commissioned by Sue Ronald and music commissioned from James Gray. I really like this one. It makes nice use of Terry Glasspool's Push Me Pull You reels
(a figure eight around a couple dancing Back-toBack Rsh then by Lsh). I also like Ron's figure of Hello-Goodbye with Turns. Bottom line: This one is a keeper - I am getting a goodly amount of positive feedback. So it is not just me.

Lady Susan Stewart's Reel:- Not well received. They did not like the opening 10 bar phrase that need to be danced in 8 bars. A dance for young legs or very canny survivors.

Fountainfall:- A  dance written just a day or so before this class. The devisor's first dance- she started Scottish Country dancing this past September. (My first dance wasn't this good).
Dance Instructions [Here]

Les Remparts de Séville:- I have commented before - The bottom line? A thumbs up.

The Compliment:- Needs good technique to make it look good. A thumbs up.

Friday, April 14, 2017

10 April 2017 –– Scotia

Again intended to be a fairly standard ball prep evening. That didn't last long. First day of the Jewish celebration and the attendance was light. So I got to play.

First Half - (Deborah teaching)

Circle of Cheer  –  (32 J n circle)  –  Hamilton
Hedwig's Reel  –  (32 R 3)  –   Graded 2
Hope Little's Strathspey  –  (32 S 3/3L)  –  Goldring
The White Cockade  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 5

Second Half - (me teaching)

Cabbages and Kings  –  (32 J 3)  –  Butterfield
Johnsonville Diamond  –  (32 S 2)  –  Downey
Zytglogge  –  (32 R 3)  –  Blackburn
Monadh Liath  –  (32 S 3)  – Drewry
Cranberry Tart  –  (32 J 3)  –  Glasspool
Anderson's Rant  –  (32 R 3)  –  MMM

*  **   ***   ** **    ** * **   ** **   ***   **  *

Circle of Cheer:- nice simple circle dance that just calls for a class on handing. And that was Deborah's plan for the evening.

Hedwig's Reel:-  Another "Chain" dance. Taught as written and danced other. So she went with the flow, as it were, and substituted a mirror fig. of eight for the original parallel Rsh fig. of eight.

Hope Little's Strathspey:-  One guess. A "chain" dance?  You betcha.  And this one has that 'something' that takes it out of tedious into acceptable. One piece of that is the set arrangement which means fewer repeats. Eight times through Seann Triubhas Willichan, for example. Nice dance but when will it ever end?

The White Cockade:-  Rights and Lefts. Just a different version of Chain.

Cabbages and Kings:-  Another of Deborah's dances and I got to open the 2nd half with it.  "I like it" the Walrus said, "The time has come to dance Cabbages and Kings." Again R&L (that mini-chain thing).

Johnsonville Diamond:-  I Like It.  Note: The Spiral variation is not good for dancers who are susceptible to motion sickness, and Deborah is one of the two who in the class who are. The opening setting figure shines when the dancers advance 'aggressively'. Wimps - stay home!

Zytglogge:-  It's Play Time! Simple set up, 16 bars of relatively simple central corner figure, Simple finish. The structure is simple, the figures are simple, and that opens the door to embroidery. And the door is not open just a crack.

When danced straight and clean care must be taken to round all the turns to the max and use ALL the allotted time. Elegant.

Play time version:- 2nd corners have little to do and little interaction with the other dancers. But they can become quintessential clockwork figures, turning about at the corners, spinning as they move along the track. First couple and 1st corners can twirl too, since the inside RH turn is only 3/4 in 2 bars, a twirl 'to face' is possible there and another is possible when 1C and 1st Corners turn each other into/out of the center. Lots of possibilities if you have a crooked mind and like to play.  Oh sorry!  I forgot. This is Scottish Country Dancing isn't it? No Fun allowed.  Hah!

Monadh Liath:-  Highland schottische balance in line is the highlight. Not a thumbs up, a High Five!

The music I have is by David South (an Aussie band) and I have just one of their CDs - "Kardinia Capers". On the whole I like it but I am not a huge fan, except for two tracks.

The music for Cauld Comfort, a Ron Wallace dance is on the CD as is the music for Monadh Liath. And they work!

Monadh Liath is not on any upcoming ball. This one was for my delight. And it has been a while since I have done it and I am seriously considering it for the next year's K&G short list.

The Cranberry Tart:- Terry was in a serious back and forth with the woman he wrote the dance for. She claimed the color of her gown was fuchsia, he insisted it was cranberry, and he brought the discussion to an abrupt end with this: Well if that is so then I'll have to name the dance "Fuchsia Shock". Need I say he won?

This dance is also a playground. He wrote the dance before Dolphin Reels became all the rage by way of Pelorus Jack. So one of our local dancers emailed him and asked him if he would have written the tandem reel across as a lead change reel? Terry has left the door open. We now embroider it that way. It is a liberty since only 1C is involved.

Anderson's Rant:-  A nice dance, a simple dance, with good music. A good ender for a rather brain heavy program.

4 April 2017 –– New Haven

A Rescheduled event. My usual slot is at the end the month. Late March has become early April.

I was asked to do another, yet another, prep session for the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance.  It makes one suspicious of what the usual teachers of the class are doing. "We have a problem Houston" - communication wise.

Hence the existence of this Blog. I started it because I wanted to know what the other teachers in the branch were doing. I knew that someday I was going to be asked to do another ball program. (It still hasn't happened). And I only knew what I was teaching in my one class in the branch. Middletown? No idea. New London/Mystic? Unknown. Granby? Black hole.

So I thought that a blog, where all the teachers had editing/posting ability would fix that, Every week the teachers would post what they had taught, a simple list would do. Program devisors would then know what dances are being done throughout the branch.  Silly me. I sent invitations out to each and every teacher.  No one accepted the invitation. So, sadly, it defaulted to my private playground.

The lists on the strathspey server are a wonderful planning tool but not a good historical tool. Lists  allow you to see what was planned for a class. The dating feature extends that over time but unless it is for a set program it doesn't necessarily show what was actually taught/danced. For example my plans change depending on who actually shows up.

So, all the dances I taught were from the upcoming Tea Dance:-

Driving Through Eutaw  –  (32 J 3)  –  Leary
Swirling Snow  –  (32 S 3/3L)  – Taylor
Anderson's Rant  –  (32 R 3)  –  MMM
Saw ye my wee thing  –  (32 J 2)  –

The Johnsonville Diamond  –  (32 S 2)  –  Downey
More Bees A-Dancin'  –  (32 R 3)  –  Goldring
Chris Ronald's Strathspey  –  (32 S 3)  –  Wallace
Les Remparts de Séville  –  (32 J 3)  –  Latour (Bk 50)