A full set tonight - what a joy.
This week's dances:
The Back o' Bennachie (32 R 2) J. M. Duthie - 8 Dances
Ca' the Ewes tae the Knowes (32 S 2) 16/8
John of Bon Accord (32 R 3) 33/5 (Roy Goldring)
The Duchess Tree (32 S 3) John Drewry - Brodie Book
Glen Falloch (32 J 3) Jean Attwood - Alexander Dances 2
Mrs. Fitchet (32 S 2) Hugh Foss - Angus Fitchet Album
Ca' the Ewes tae the Knowes -
The second figure is the dance. The biggest disapointment is the music. The music chosen is a good traditional strathspey and it fits the dance well. I like the tune, truely. It is a good tune - but it just isn't the song tune. And that song is one of the most heart rendingly beautiful songs I have ever heard. And the Society chose not to use it. I don't get it.
John of Bon Accord -
A very good dance. But every time I teach it the instructions drive me to distraction. I want to say 'to drink', but I'm not much of a drinking man.
"Four progressive half-reels of three across the dance – danced as follows:"
The only clue as to how the reels actually work is buried deep in the text that 'follows'. Why do it that way? Why not say it the way it is and say it up front: four progressive diagonal half reels of three. 1M finishes each reel in 1L's, 2M's, 2L's, and 3M's positions respectively… and so on and so forth. No additional clarifications, amendments or dancing notes needed. Which is as it should be.
I object to the vagueness of the directons for the reels- but the directions for last figure are actually worse because it is the very specificity of the directions that are the issue.
The instructions for bars 25-32 read:
25-28 2nd, 1st and 3rd couples turn partners with right hands
three-quarters round to finish in a line up and down the
dance; facing partners and retaining right hands, all set.
29-32 2nd, 1st and 3rd couples turn partners with right hands
to finish on own sides and then, joining hands on the sides,
set to partners.
The troubling words being "facing partner" because that is exactly what you get. On bars 27-28 you have three couples squarely facing partner. The result: the first three-quarter turn looks pretty good, but the second three-quarter turn is just plain ugly, and I do mean ugly. When they face the dancers lose the shape of the turn and they then spend most of bars 29-30 trying, and usually failing, to regain it. That, in turn, makes them late onto the sidelines where they invariably fail to take hands and set all higgidly piggidly. UGLY!
What I now teach is this: dance the first three-quarter turn but turn your head to face your partner, not your body. This maintains the shape of the turn since you are still facing the correct direction. Now the second turn can be as good looking as the first, the dancers get to the sidelines in time to take hands neatly and the lines looks good. It's simple and it works.
Glen Falloch –
Yet another winner from Jean Attwood that deserves a place in the standard repetoire. Just keep the Rights and Lefts on the compact side.
The Duchess Tree –
An early Drewry dance and a classic.
Mrs. Fitchet –
Discussed at some length in the previous post ;-)
What became clear tonight is that sloppy dancing, for whatever reason, won't cut it in this dance. Correctly timing the fig. 8 is critical to the transition to the half diamond poussette. Miss the first and you will miss the second and you will miss the fun.