Monday, November 30, 2009

New Haven Branch Christmas Party - On Again - Monday, 14 December 2009

7:30 PM, Monday, 14 December, 2009,

New Haven Friends Meeting House
225 East Grand Ave.,
New Haven, CT.

Update on the program -

Leslie expressed concern that the program wasn't 'Christmas-y' enough – so I redid it. :-)
All the dances (
but two) are familiar and all are simple to intermediate in difficulty. So come and party and see if you can Name That Dance.

Dasher's Jig (32 J 3)
S. Claus' Strathspey (32 S 2)
The Tassel (32 R 3)
Lord Nicholas' Fancy (32 S 3)
Ultima Thule (32 R 3)


The Toymaker (32 J 3)
Dancer's Strathspey (32 S 3)
The Sleigh Bench (32 H 2)
The Fa' North (32 S 3)
Da Snow Swirlin' (32 R 3)

Note - I will be bringing mulled cider. All other goodies are bring your own/pot luck.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Re: Schiehallion on Strathspey server

For those of you who may be following this thread, there is a video posted on the BBC program, "Come Dancing" of Schiehallion done by the group with whom I dance when I visit in England, particularly, the Bournemouth RSCDS. The woman being interviewed after the demo is Marilyn Watson, a very well known SCD instructor who teaches the Bournemouth branch as well as throughout the UK and in Europe. It was to her and the Bournemouth group to whom I gave a copy of the New Haven Anti-Book when I danced with them a few years back. She lives in Christchurch, just outside Bournemouth. It`s in Christchurch where my wife and I stay when visiting her sister and family. I danced in Bournemouth as well as smaller venues in Hampshire and the New Forest just last year. When I`m in Christchurch, I always give Marilyn a call and she`ll always come give me a lift to the church where they dance. It`s always neat dancing with a group you don`t really know because they treat you so royally. And some of the dancers even recognize me after more than a year`s absence! And Marilyn, God bless her, is truly a gracious lady and a wonderful instructor..... Major Jeff

Friday, November 20, 2009

Program for the Joint New Haven Christmas Party (Monday, 14 December 2009)

This is tentative:

Quarries' Jig (32 J 3) 36/3
Phyllis' Fancy (32 S 2) Sutton Coldfield
The White Cockade (32 R 3) 5/11

Lady Mary Douglas (48 J 3) Imperial 1
The Beauty of the North (32 S 3) Drewry
John of Bon Accord (32 R 3) 33/5

The Nut (24 J 2) 1/4
Dalkieth's Strathspey (32 S 3) 9/6
On the Quarterdeck (32 H 2) The Harbour City

The Nurseryman (32 J 3 ) 37/7
Gordon of Straloch (32 S 3) Price - leaflet
Da Rain Dancin' (32 R 3) Whiteadder Coll.

Please note: it is Lady (not Miss) Mary Douglas

Changes may be made to the program at any time - updates will be posted.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

RSCDS New Haven Branch Christmas Party is Canceled

There will not be a New Haven Branch Christmas Party in New Haven this season.

The change of space and landlord makes a weekend date untenable for monetary reasons. And the Friends Meeting House is only available on the 19th which is too close to Christmas.


The New Haven Class and Peter's monthly class will be holding a joint Christmas party on Monday, 14 December 2009, at the Friends Meeting House.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Call for a Book 46 Workshop

Is there anyone interested in a Book 46 Project Workshop?

I would like the New Haven Branch to put on a workshop in early to mid January to properly assess the Book 46 project dances. I would like to see an afternoon workshop in which all nine dances are taught, a potluck dinner followed by a dance session in which the dances, having been taught earlier, can be done in a party setting.

I have a possible venue: The New Haven Friends' Meeting House is usually available on Saturdays– it will accommodate 2 sets comfortably, three sets are do-able but a squeeze. Full kitchen downstairs with tables and chairs.

Why this call? Because I am not going to be able to assess the Book 46 dances properly in class. The 'assessment' form provided by RSCDS is set up to compare dances by group. As in– Which dance do you like better Jig #1 or Jig #2?

No problem there, I can teach two new dances in the course of an evening at get an answer as to which is preferred. I can even get the three reels taught in an evening. I will not be able to get the four strathspeys done.

And all nine in an evening, even if they already know them? Not going to happen!

I am willing to get the hall, I am willing to do the teaching. I am willing to help with set up and cleanup and close the hall. Is there anyone else interested and willing and able?

Kilts and Ghillies Class - 17 November 2009

A full set present tonight - Hoo Rah!

We danced:
Joie de Vivre (32 J 3C - adapted for 3C set) Bk 39/2
Dance No.39 (32 S 3 set) Bk 46 project
John of Bon Accord (32 R 3) Bk 33/5
The Nurseryman (32 J 3) Bk37/7

Joie de Vivre: Adapting Joie de Vivre for a 3C set is an interesting proposition. With couples in the order 3,1,2 you need to end 2, 3, 1. The easiest solution is to "fix" the Allemande thus: 3C dances up and out to the right as 1C dances up and to the left. 1C has now cut in front of 3C and the Allemande completes normally. (Thank you, Mary Shoolbraid Brandon! She wrote this "fix" into her dance The Double Sixsome - which is where I first saw it).

Dance No. 39: Very frustrating. I have taught it twice now and both times it was like going to the dentist. I could not believe that I had to teach a group of experienced dancers (most with over 20 years dancing experience) how to set to corners. Not Hello-Goodbye setting but set to 1st corner, set to 2nd corner - from scratch no less. A comment though brought me to earth.

How often does that figure actually appear? Answer: Not often. My guess is that a dance with that figure might get done once every 10-12 years. And my struggle is to remember that I am not normal. I don't forget these things - Once learned - learned. Other dancers need repetition to retain familiarity and they haven't had that. My frustration - My bad.

John of Bon Accord: For some reason this dance continues to fly under my radar. I have taught the dance in 1992, twice in 1994, once in 2003 and tonight. It is a far better dance than that record would indicate.

What is needed are good crisp, properly timed reels. 1C needs to keep the first 3 half reels HALF reels and not overshoot their marks. Every four bars those marks are: for 1L the center line of the set; for 1M one or the other of the sidelines. The subtlety here is where IL, in the transitional moments between the half reels, positions herself along the center line– for it is her relationship to her partner that create the axis of each new half reel. The four reels are on the diagonal (1M to 2L), straight across the set in 2nd place, on the diagonal (2M to 3L), and across the set in 3rd place.

The Nurseryman: One of my favourite dances. What I find special is not the Inverting Double Triangles but rather the transition from the Left Hands Across on the sides into lines of 3 across the set. The secret is to dance the Left Hands Across about half round, release hands and expand it into a sort of chase. Then when everyone links hands at the same moment what appeared to be circular magically transforms into a line and it just shines! That, IMHO, is the moment that defines the dance. And tonight someone else actually 'got' it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Woodbridge, Friday the 13th

It has been a very difficult week. For the third time I have had, as Jane Lataille so aptly put it, a class of very small numbers. Last night it was three (3). So Tony Kalbfus gets the 'Hero of the Night" award since he drove up from New York to attend and if he hadn't there would not have been a class.

So once again it was threesomes and foursomes, with one exception, until we dropped.

Eigg, Muck and Rum - 32 R 3some - Jane Lataille
The Gay Goshawk - 32 J 2 - Barry Priddey
This One's Four Isobel - 32 S 4some - Terry Glasspool
Four Paws - 32 S 4some - Terry Glasspool
The Four Winds - 32 R 4some - Terry Glasspool

Eigg, Muck and Rum: from Always Enough to Dance. A nice little dance and a superb reinforcement to reels of three. I have the dancers line up in a row across the normal axis of a set with the end dancers facing up and the middle dancer facing down.
The opening fig. 8 foreshadows the upcoming Reel of 3, both are in 6 bars, both are identical tracks, and the final 2-bar crossings (1 bar each) really force correct timing of the reel.

The Gay Goshawk: From The Sutton Coldfield Book - a tight little dance requiring strict phrasing and a concentrated mind. It is worth a second trial with a proper set. A 2-couple dance in a 2-couple set is a bit much.

This One's Four Isobel - a favourite of mine. Of all the foursomes I have done this one comes closest to having a story line (though it may simply be familiarity on my part) and is so pretty that one day, real soon now, it will show up on a ball or party program.

Four Paws - This one is a bear to teach. We danced the first two rounds but on the third round the reels fell apart. There is a moment there that boggles my mind. I normally have a very strong sense of pattern and in that transitional moment I want to go the wrong way every time.

The heart of the dance is the reel - two dancers have a normal(?) half reel of four, the other two dancers have half Schiehallion-like reels, and then you switch! And it is at that moment that I have been going the wrong way, giving right shoulder to the wrong person. The key people are the ones who are starting the Schiehallion-half reels. They go to the person on their right to pass right shoulders. If you are that other person you have to start to your LEFT to pass that opening right shoulder and it doesn't feel right. I may have it sorted out now. One can only hope.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kilts and Ghillies Class - 10 November 2009

Another squeaker - 6 dancers present.

We danced:
A Wee Nothin’ - 32 J 2 - E. Brunken
Seann Truibhas Willichan - 32 S 2 - 27/9
Winter Wonder - 32 H 3 adapted - J. Lataille, Fun for All Seasons
The Quaich - 32 S 3 adapted - J. Drewry
Saw Ye My Wee Thing - 32 J 2 - 25/9
Kendall’s Hornpipe - 32 J 2 - Gr 22
Anna Holden’s Strathspey - 32 S 2 - 42/2
The Red Baron - 32 R 2 - I. Boyd - Katherine’s Book

The big disappointment - not being able to get my teeth into the Book 46 dances.
The big thrill - finding out the proper pronunciation and meaning of 'quaich'.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dancing on the Heights - November 2009

We barely squeaked a class in tonight - just four (4) dancers showed. So, instead of getting a jump on the Book 46 project I had to pull out all the 3-some, 4-some and 5-some dances I had in my card file.

We danced:
Santa Fe Summer (32 J 4-some) - Jane Lataille
This One's Four Isobel - (32 S 4-some) - Terry Glasspool
The Four Winds - (32 R 4-some) - Terry Glasspool
The Four Poster - (32 S 4-some) - Terry Glasspool

What I am finding is that 4-some dances such as these have little chance of developing a storyline. These dances are essentially figure/pattern sequences and the formations can be irregular so a very good short term memory is needed as the parts may be familiar but the patterns are going in unfamiliar directions. Muscle memory can lead you astray here.

This only the second time I have taught Santa Fe Summer and I haven't made up my mind yet.
This One's Four Isobel is absolutely positively one of my favorite dances. It is gorgeous, it is elegant and one day it will end up on a ball program.

The Four Wind is a good journeyman dance. It is fairly simple, fun but it won't win an Uncle Molly Award. The last dance to do that was Mole's Frolic which is the opening dance for this season's Kilts and Ghillies Ball -17 April 2010.

The last dance of the evening, The Four Poster is one another winner. In this one Terry plays games with that good old mundane, if not down right boring, figure: Back-to-Back. Here we have interlocking Back-to-Backs for 4 persons in line, then he gives us a "Back-to-Back Half Reel of Four". Without a doubt Terry has one of the most devilish minds I have had the pleasure of meeting.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Book 46 Project

Error found in Dance No. 78.

I was studying the Batch 5 dances and noticed an error in Dance No.78 (64S/64R Medley).

Bars 25-32 - last sentence reads in part -
… divide and dance back to finish all opposite original place.

this is not so!

1st and 3rd couples DO end halfway round the set and directly opposite original places but
2nd and 4th couples end ON HOME SIDE, but in partner's place (i.e. improper).

Correct positions at end of bar 32:


---------- 3M 3W

-----4W ----------2M
-----4M---------- 2W

----------1W 1M

Sorry about them thar dashes but this idiot text editor has its own moronic ideas about formatting and takes out spaces without permission. No pretty diagrams.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kilts and Ghillies Class - 3 November 2009

It was a very small class tonight - all of 3 couples.

I opened with Jane Lataille's dance After You (32 J 2/3/4) as a 2C set.
Next was Dance No. 39 (32 S 3C set) from the Book 46 Project.
An oldie was next - Haste to the Wedding (32 J 2C),
A Jean Attwood dance: Langholm Fair (32 S 3C set),
and we closed with The White Cockade (32 R 3C) suitably modified (1C 3C R&L3/4 and set) for dancing in a three couple set.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Haven Highland Ball

Saturday, March 6, 2010

West Hartford Town Hall
50 South Main Street
West Hartford, CT

Music by Music Makars: Etienne Ozorak, Fred Mamula, Jack Lindberg, Nicolas Ozorak, Elizabeth Ozorak

5:00 P.M. Reception
6:00 P.M. Dinner
7:30 P.M. Dancing

Joie de Vivre - 32 J 3C - 39/2
John of Bon Accord - 32 R 3C - 33/5
My Friend Joe - 32 S 3C - 38/2

Quarries' Jig - 32 J 3C - 36/3
The Talcott Mtn Strathspey - 32 S 3C - Nutmeg Collection
The Glenalmond Gamekeeper - 40 R 3 - Bankhead 6

Over the Water to Charlie - 32 J 3C - 34/5
The Valentine - 32 S 3C - 5 Dances 2009
The Music Makars - 32 R 3C - 33/1

The River Cree - 32 J 2C - 8/5
The Whistling Wind - 32 R 3C - 36/5
The Quaich - 32 S 3C - Drewry (Rondel Book)

Old Nick's Lumber Room - 32 J 3C - 26/6
She's Ower Young to Marry Yet - 32 S 3C - 14/8
The Black Leather Jig - 32 R 3C - Delaware Valley Silver

A Wee Nothin' - 32 J 2 - E. Brunken
The Bonny Heather - 32 S 2c - Between the Rivers
Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh - 40 R 3C - 39/7

Ramblings from the Heights

Wandering Thoughts

I am in overwhelm. Too much that I want to do and not enough class time to do it in or even half of it.

Let's see - first there is the RSCDS Book 46 project which consists of 9 dances - 2 jigs, 3 reels and 4 medley/strathspeys. Headquarters wants us to rank each within its category. I can certainly teach two jigs in an evening class, maybe even 3 brand new reels, but 4 strathspeys? And one of them a 128 Medley? I don't think so. The medley alone is probably a full evening project.

I am going to try teaching one or two dances a night and then run three test sessions - one for each category but with a January 29th deadline time is already short. With the Kilts &
class's very iffy attendance numbers time is actually very short.

What I really want is a mid January workshop where all the dances can be done and the votes for best of category and best overall can be tallied and no one has to try and recall the dance they did two weeks ago - "When did we do that one?" and "was it any good?".

Another issue is music. We teachers received absolutely no guidance from the deviser or Headquarters. Do we choose a smooth classical jig or bumbitty Irish jig? Classical strathspey or slow air? If we pick the 'wrong' music we spoil the dance. And the music I pick won't be the music another teacher will pick.

Last night I taught Dance No. 39 in Wilton - I used Yet Another Birthday (3x32 S) from les joueurs de bon accord. It was "Ok" but not the best fit - I am open to suggestions!

Monday (9 Nov) is the next Meeting House dance and I will be teaching a number of the Batch 5 dances. Dance No. 49 (8x40 R) is on the agenda and for music I have chosen Captain Macintosh. (It dances well to that music - in my mind - and that is a dangerous place for me to be). Dance No. 71 (4x80 R square) is also on the agenda. Come one come all!! Let the show begin!

Just One More Thing - I do NOT want to be the sole voice on this blog. Invitations have gone out to most of the people whom I have email addresses for. Please sign up and become authors. Please Contribute! I know what my impressions are - and how often I need a good swift reality check. Help me get out of my mind - in the good sense.

By the way, Blogger makes this really easy - it is as close to idiot proof as can be. Please note "I" am doing this - so you can too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Golden Age of Scottish Country Dancing

This in from Anselm Lingnau (originally posted to the list):


Here's a quotation especially for those people who believe that SCD today has become too technical and has stopped being fun/representing »the tradition«:

Hugh Foss said this in his pamphlet »Notes on Evolution in Scottish Country Dancing« (published in 1973). "

Some people grumble that the Society has over-emphasised technique (the steps, that is) and made the dances so precious and difficult that they are no longer the joyful romps they always used to be (always, in this instance, meaning, say, 1890-1920). In other words they complain because the Society has changed the second-best dances into best ones. But where else are the best dances today? When you had courtly corantos, you might like to relax in a Playford romp. When you were tired of very decorous waltzes or very difficult highland step-dances you might prefer to do the country dances without pointing your toes. But now there are no courtly (perhaps not even any decorous) dances to relax from. If you want the best dances the Society has them. I hope they won't become second-best for a long time yet.

The Society does not suggest that all dancers must have perfect technique before they can be let loose on a dance. It is quite easy for anyone -- or almost anyone -- to pick up enough about the steps to be able to enjoy the dances at the first class they attend. They don't have to learn the minuet first. (p.26f.)


The golden age of Scottish Country Dancing, by the way, is now. (p.26)