Monday, January 11, 2010

Dancing on the Heights (Friends Meeting House)

Happy New Year.

A good class tonight. Six dancers so mostly two couple dances.

But first, many thanks to Susan Leff for the cider and the goodies.
Chocolate and shortbread - yumm!

The program:
Belfast Almanac (32 J 2) Hugh Foss - Glendarroch #24
The Caithness Heart (32 R 2) Jean Attwood - leaflet
Mrs. Fitchet (32 S 2) Hugh Foss - Angus Fitchet SD Album
Lang May Your Lum Reek (32 J 2) Barry Priddey - Scottish Dance Archive #72
Lady Mary Douglas (48 J 3) The Imperial Book Vol. 1

Lady Mary Douglas – directly related to Miss Mary Douglas (RSCDS Book 10/11). Same source (Wilson's Companion to the Ball Room, 1816), different interpretation. In my opinion Miss MD has NO redeeming social value. Lady MD on the other hand is a do-able and moderately pleasant dance with this caveat - you must keep the set compact, especially the opening reel. Let the set spread and you're behind, forever!

Belfast Almanac – I love that Hugh Foss stretched the boundaries of the traditional forms and that Miss Milligan considered his ideas "dangerous." I love that this dance is basically a romp consisting of standard figures with several moments of exquisite subtlety should you choose to accept them. The delightfully worded assessment "…simple, but not simple minded" fits.

It has a fugal opening:
1-8 1C set advancing, turn RH; half figure 8 though 2C.
9-16 2C set advancing, turn LH; half fig. 8 through 1C position while 1C set, cast; set, dance up (near hand) to face out in partner's place.

When the couples advanced for both setting steps (bars 1-2 and 9-10) they had difficulty in setting up good turns. But, what if 1C danced the first pas de basque in place and moved forward and to the left on the second pdb; wouldn't that leave them in good position to take RH cleanly for the coming turn? And what if 2C moved forward and to the right on the first pdb, and danced the second one in place; wouldn't that leave them in good position to take LH cleanly for their upcoming turn? Answer: Yes and yes. And the solution is both subtle and asymmetric, and I like that. Observers will experience an itch, they will wonder, but will they see?

Bars 25-26 - A tricky bit this. There is a moving arch and the dancers have to trade places (sides) with partner. I suggest 1 bar for the arch and 1 bar (no hands) for the 'crossing'. The move is a reprise of earlier movements – bars 5-6 for 1C and 13-14 for 2C, and is the set up for the six bar turns that complete the dance. Smooth transition, proper hands and covered turns. When they get it right – Oh my! Be still my heart.

The Caithness Heart – Another winner from Jean Attwood. Simple, and the entry into the reel of 4 is as sweet as can be. How shameful that the only dance of hers that is getting programmed here abouts is The Falls of Rogie.

Mrs Fitchet The transition into the half diamond poussette - pure genius. The moment - priceless.

Lang May Your Lum Reek – Wow! Put this one on your short list of "Gotta Do" dances. I know several good, popular dances from the Scottish Dance Archives but why this one isn't a part of the standard repertoire is beyond my ken!

It is fun. No… it is more. This dance is exhilarating! The first 16 bars are so ho-hum and then Barry socks it to you; and the final 4 bars is so simple and neat that it damn near gives me goosebumps.

I grant you the third figure is intimidating but take the time to figure it out and you will be re payed ten fold. Trust me. This dance is a keeper.

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