Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Going Viral?

A couple of days ago I posted the Kilts and Ghillies 2010 Ball Program to the Strathspey list as part of a thread on dance programs and attendance. This elicited a number of comments. Then, in one of my responses to said comments, I mentioned my liking for the medley Sage and Salsa. (Quoted below).

I have now sent either the ball crib or the actual directions to eight people. Four are in Europe or the UK, two are in Canada, one from Minnesota and one unknown.

And then, in a mistake, I sent a post to the strathspey list that commercially plugged the Santa Fe class's books, The Dunsmuir Book, Between the Rivers and Barry Priddey.

Where will it End?

"Sage and Salsa is the first medley I have ever danced that I liked. It is simple. If you don't know it contact me. The dances coming out of the Santa Fe class are remarkable for their originality and sometimes IMO sheer genius. This is one of them."


"I am attaching the ball crib for you. I think you will find more than one dance with differences.
My favourites are Mole's Frolic, Sage and Salsa, Maurice (advanced), Glen Falloch, Rakes of Auld Reekie, and On Hudson Creek.

Books to seriously consider owning: Always Enough to Dance, Still Enough to Dance, Fun for All Seasons (these from Jane Lataille and the Santa Fe SC Dancers - a very small class);
The Dunsmuir Book - I have found 6 superb dances in this one and haven't tried them all yet.
Between the Rivers - lots of good ones here too.
I am also finding a number of good dances from Barry Priddey (who seems to deserve far more recognition than he has so far gotten.)"

Kilts & Ghillies Class - 27 Oct '09

Dances done tonight:

The Cadger's Roadie (32 J 2) -M. Zadworny
The Bonny Heather (32 S 2) - H. Ways
Autumn Leaves (32 J 3 set) - J. Lataille
Glen Falloch (32 J 3) - J. Attwood
The Valentine (32 S 3) - L. Gaul
Dunbar Castle (32 J 2) - B. Priddey

The response to Glen Falloch was gratifying. (I do so like that dance!) It dances easier than it teaches. Fun too. After The Valentine was done everyone just stood there. It took a direct question before anyone would say they liked it. I will have to try it on the class at a time when everyone has their brains in gear, which was not the case tonight. I had to work to get the dancers to move tonight and to get them to go where they were supposed to was another struggle.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nutmeg Workshop - Musician's Perspective

Email to from Susie re getting dancers to attend events.
Reposted with permission.


I read the postings about how to get people to come to a social dance with great interest and because I suspect that many Strathspey readers are leaders in their dance communities, I offer the following:

As a dance teacher I consider it my responsibility to provide a place where everyone can experience the movement of RSCDS dancing. When it comes to an evening's social dance, I am particularly interested in figuring out what I need to do to create a situation where the people dancing on the floor and the musicians playing on the stage can reach a state of exhilaration. When dancers are in that state of exhilaration, they have extra energy and share that energy spontaneously. When dancers are using all of their faculties to remember where to go and to help others get there, they cannot share that energy.

This physiological fact is one of the driving forces that makes me consider very carefully each dance that I choose to put on a social dance program. There are many dances in the RSCDS canon that are more appropriately puzzled through during a dance class. There are also many dances when combined with their fantastic original music, make you fly.

After my recent engagements with but few familiar titles, new people who went home after the first half and sets that stood still on the floor, I am left wondering why dance leaders don't program more dances like Monymusk and Wild Geese; surrounding a new, interesting, complicated dance with old favorites that give the dancers a chance figure out something new as well as a chance to rest and re-exhilarate themselves.

Susie Petrov
Boston, USA

Monday, October 26, 2009

Beginners? What to do?

(Email from LKDJQ)

Hi Guys
I figured out how to do "reply all."
I have a couple thoughts. One is, please come and celebrate Halloween with us this coming
friday. If you want to bring goodies and/or dress up, so much the better.I'll bring something tasty and have a seasonal program.

Also may I make a suggestion for the future? I know we are continuing to struggle with attempting to expand the group. It is always a challenge to know how to attract new people, keep them once we get them there, integrate them into a class of people who've been doing this for eons, stuff like that. I know there are no easy answers and everyone is trying their best. But personally I don't think it's fair to me--or any other teacher--to have to keep preparing classes week after week only to have a beginner straggle in at the last minute; have to completely jettison the plans; subject the entire group to the "introductory" class time after time after time--especially when none of these people ever seems to come back.Let's face it, this activity is NOT for everybody. When somebody says "ouch" when asked to stand with her heels together, it's a pretty fair bet she will not become a regular. And, unlike contradancing or square dancing, this is not really an activity one can get much out of by coming once. I understand that people have to start somewhere but i'm thinking that whatever advertisement we're putting out there is giving a somewhat misleading impression. If you're awaiting hip or knee replacement or haven't moved in 20 years this just isn't the activity for you. I would appreciate it if, in the future, we prescribe a time frame when people can start--like within the first four weeks of the season, say. That seems to me like a generous amount of time and might convey to people that it's an activity that has a learning curve. In addition or alternatively, we could say beginners can come for the first hour of the evening. That's the way New Haven handled it when i first started. And that's what ended up happening the night the two elderly ladies came. That works for everyone, the first half of the class can be review and instruction, then the people who really want to dance have a chance to do so; The beginners can stay and watch and get an idea of what it's really about. You may not realize it but most classes of this nature do not grind to a halt to accommodate rank beginners. Anyway, these are some things i've been thinking about. I welcome input or alternative suggestions-


Kilts and Ghillies class - 20 Nov 2009

Three of the dances I taught deserve comment.

Lapton Reel - 32 R 2C (Barry Priddey - SDA #69) is essential
y an 8 bar set up, 8 bar half fig. eight, 10 bar half petronella and 6 bar closer. 2 bar phases followed by setting. On my initial reading I commented that there seemed to be some interesting interactions and that it seemed simple enough. I was half right.

There is an underlying pattern but it is broken up by the setting and not easy for most dancers (in my class any way) to discern. It was also rather difficult to teach coherently. I found lots of demonstration and lots of repetition were necessary. The teaching took so much time I thought the response would be negative. Wrong - it was mostly positive. I wasn't able to get in it, but the report is : very aerobic. For them to actually say it has to be so. This one gets a thumbs up from the class and they are a tough sell.

Langholm Fair - 32 S 3C/3C set (Jean Attwood - Alexander Dances 3)
This is the third time I have taught the dance since early this past summer and the response has been unanimous - "It's a good one." Not that I am surprised. This is from the same person who wrote The Falls of Rogie. The dance is inherently simple but there is one tricky (not hard) piece: a half promenade that requires very controlled traveling steps. I have short listed this dance.

Gordon of Straloch -32 S 3C (one of my still unpublished efforts).
The music is critical to this dance (in my opinion). The dance wrote itself to Liz Donaldson's set of strathspey airs on her CD Waverley Station : First Stop. The fourth tune in the set is from the Straloch Lute Book (1627) where the A phrase doesn't stop at 8 bars. The dance tries to follow the music and there should be no "break" between bars 8 and 9, between the diamond poussette and the lead down. I find too that there is no one proper moment where the dancers should change feet. (I do it when it is convenient for me and not necessarily when I said it should be done). I have consistently gotten positive responses to this dance which is not surprising given the extraordinary music.

I promise: I will be posting the dance on Eight by Thirtytwo soon.

5 Nov 2009 - Update

Gordon of Straloch is now posted on Eight by thirtytwo.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kilts and Ghillies 2010 Ball

The 2010 Kilts and Ghillies Ball is coming together. We have a date, a hall, a band and a new format.

Kilts and Ghillies Spring Ball
17 April 2010
South Britain Congregational Church
East Flat Hill Rd.,
Southbury, Ct.

Jim Stevenson-Mathews - piano
Rebecca McCallum - fiddle

Start time 3:00pm
End time 7:30 pm
Dinner - after (at local venue of your choice).
Finger food before and during, desserts at the break (remember - always eat dessert first).


Moles Frolic / 32 J 3 / Dunsmuir Book
Anna Holden's Strathspey / 32 S 2 / Bk 42/2
The White Cockade / 32 R 3 / Bk 5/11

Holden My Own / 32 J 3 / Between the Rivers
Sage and Salsa / 16S+16R Medley 3 / Still Enough to Dance
Montgomeries' Rant / 32 R 3 / Bk 10/1

The Nurseryman / 32 J 3 / Bk 37/7
Maurice / 32 S 2 / Dunsmuir Book
Blooms of Bon Accord / 32 R 4 / Drewry


Glen Falloch / 32 J 3 / J. Attwood - Alexander 2
Rakes of Auld Reekie / 32 S 2 / B. Priddey - Golden Oriole Book
On Hudson Creek / 32 H 3 / Between the Rivers

Back to Back / 32 J 3 / T. Glasspool - Itch to Dance
The Dundee Whaler / 32 S 4 / R. Clowes - Ormskirk
The Westminster Reel / 32 R 2 / Bk 45/1

Major Ian Stewart / 32 J 3 / Bk 35/4
The Duchess Tree / 32 S 3 / J. Drewry
Reel of the 51st Division / 32 R 4/5 set / Bk 13/10

Note Bene: If time gets tight one or more of the dances in the penultimate set will be dropped.
(Back to Back/The Dundee Whaler/The Westminster Reel)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nutmeg Workshop

23 October 2009

The workshop was held Saturday the 17th at the Incarnation Center, Ivoryton, Ct. It was so nice to see old friends and meet new ones. The teachers were Chris Ronald from NYC and Elaine Brunken from Virginia. They each taught two sessions, one for beginners and one for experienced dancers. I danced with the beginners all afternoon and had a blast.

There were three new dances (new to me, anyway) on the evening program. The Golden Apple Jig (40 J 3) is Chris Ronald's salute to the NY Branch's 50th year. Four's a Score (32 R 3), one of Elaine's dances and Winter Wonder a 32 H 3 by Jane Lataille. All three good solid friendly dances that are now on my short list of dances. Jane's dance made it onto my top 25 list the first time I danced it. It is so simple but SOOO nice. She captured a little bit of magic with this one.

The facilities were a bit spartan, the kitchen a wee small for a 50 person potluck, and the men had to navigate around several poison ivy shrubs on their way to relief. But the floors were bouncy, the acoustics good, and the rooms warm enough. Thumbs up.

Kudos to the hard work of Catriona and Joyce who were the movers and shakers of this event. There is some question, and there shouldn't be, over whether or not there will be one next year. This was, in my opinion, a success. I had a great time even though my legs kept me off the floor for the evening and I want to go again.