Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Haven Highland Ball - New Haven Workshop

Done. A success for the books.

Dances covered in this workshop:

Collichur (32 J 3) 30/1
The Talcott Mountain Strathspey (32 S 3) Nutmeg Collection
The Black Leather Jig (32 R 3) Delaware Valley Silver
The Spirit of the Dance (32 S 3) Irene Paterson - leaflet
John of Bon Accord (32 R 3) 33/5
The Valentine (32 S 3) 5 Dances 2009


Collichur – Nothing tricky about this dance - but it is a nice easy warm-up to get blood flowing to both brain and muscles. The rest of the afternoon went smoothly so it must have been the right thing to do.

The Talcott Mountain Strathspey – This one isn't exactly tricky, what it has is a high piece count. By that I mean there are a lot of instructions for each 8 bar phrase. Lots of words for the teacher to say and dancers to process. And that is what makes it a "difficult" dance. It is not the same kind of difficult as a piece of spaghetti choreography, but still difficult.

The Black Leather Jig – What needed teaching here is the variant Set to Corner-Partner. I learned this figure from Ron Wallace when he introduced his new dance Da Rain Dancin' to us at Pinewoods a looong time ago now. He stressed, strongly, that on bars 2 and 6 dancers do NOT move all the way onto the side lines, but just far enough to have right shoulders pointing toward each other. Then the giving of right hands is a simple matter and that 'makes' the turns which 'make' the dance (IMHO). Pretty figure, too.

The Spirit of the Dance – Two reasons to teach this one - the 12 bar 3 couple Rights and Lefts (because it isn't common) and the Tourbillon (because I constantly see it butchered). Hmmm, my language might be a bit strong here. Let me rephrase that.

I found another 'take' on the figure that I thought might land and stick. It did. It really did. Kudos to Irene Patterson (who wrote the dance) for coming up with a wonderful description of the Tourbillon. What she said was:

1-2 1st and 2nd couples turn with two hands, 1M and 2L change places.
3-4 retaining hands on the side, both couples set.
5-6 1st and 2nd couples turn with both hands, 1L and 2M change places.
7-8 both couples cross over giving right hands, 1st couple stay facing out.

The difference in the dancing was remarkable. Never before have I seen so many dancers in so many sets dancing the Tourbillon with such ease, grace, lack of angst or drama. Ahhhh. If only I'd had her directions 10 years ago. Sigh.

John of Bon Accord – I finally got to see if my vision of the last figure really works - I mean with dancers who don't see me on a weekly basis and are not used to my peculiar ways of looking at things. Well the truth is in the dancing and, when done my way, the turns worked. And that is the bottom line. Four sets and ALL looking good, everyone one the sides lines in time to set. Excuse me but… YES!! OK, I'm done gloating now.

(John of Bon Accord was covered in detail in two earlier posts. I see no need to bore everyone to tears again.)

The Valentine – Why? Because the dance is new, the central 'gypsy' figure is unusual enough to warrant coverage, and the misprint in the original publication needed to be corrected. (Correction made in Scottish Country Dancer No. 9, October 2009, page 6). My conclusion (based on today's test): The dance is uncomplicated, pretty and a keeper.

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