Thursday, January 28, 2010

Westchester Class - 27 January 2010

Hello Westchester, I'm back! And very happy to be back I yam I yam.

A different situation this year than last. Several dancers have graduated up from the training class but they clearly have a lot still to learn. I'm not sure they realize just how much more there is to learn so I am going to have to dial back my usual programming practices. I can't scare them out of their wits but I can't let the other dancers get lazy either, so… take a deep breath ladies, I am not going back to basics and you are going to be dropped into the deep end. Hang on to this thought - its OK to make mistakes and to ask questions; that is part of the learning process. Perfection is for tomorrow so I don't mind if you're not perfect today. Just keep smiling and have fun no matter what. It is supposed to be fun you know.

Westchester, starting an intermediate class sounds like a very good idea.

Tonight's dances were:
Moles Frolic (32 J 3) Dunsmuir Dances (T. Winter)
The Caithness Heart (32 R 2) J. Attwood - L2
Rakes of Auld Reekie (32 S 2) B. Priddey - Golden Oriole
My Ain Hoose (32 J 2) H. Foss - Glendarroch #5
Wedding in Saint Monans (32 J 3) Mary S. Brandon
Monymusk (32 S 3) 11/2


Mole's Frolic – Simple, but not simple minded. One of the sweetest dances I have seen in a long time, and that's why it will open this year's Kilts and Ghillies Ball. Tom Winter is writing really good dances these days, and the Dunsmuir book is a tour de force - a superb collection of dances.

The Caithness Heart - a simple dance with a to-die-for reel of four. What a sweet entrance into the reel.

Rakes of Auld Reekie – Definitely not simple minded, or very simple. The two progressive promenade reels of three can be unsettling because they are not danced to the standard phrasing. You have to be comfortable 'bending' the timing and not everyone is. Without a clean end to the reels that final progression is nearly impossible. But when that last figure is nailed – oh the joy of it all! Another dance where the rewards for getting it right far out weigh the considerable effort needed to get there. Which is why it too will be done at this year's Kilts and Ghillies ball.

My Ain Hoose – A simple dance but wonderfully fulfilling when danced well. The reward comes when you and your partner find the perfect kinesthetic balance when transitioning into the half fig. eight from the turn. You know those moments, at least I hope you do, when everything is 'on', your balance, the weight being given by your partner, the change of direction is seamless, the dance effortless, and suddenly you are on a high; and when it is over all you can say is 'yes!'

An unfortunate fact of life - those moments happen most rarely in simple dances. Simple dances require the highest level of technique; slip up there and the energy slips away and with it the exhilaration.

Wedding in Saint Monans – A Mary Shoolbraid Brandon dance. Most dances have a moment or movement that makes or breaks the dance. In St. Monans that moment is the transition from the Cross Over (RH) into the Set (advancing). If you cross all the way to the sidelines and set cleanly moving forward - the energy builds. Get lazy and end the cross in the middle and set there - the dance fizzles. Mary Brandon rewards good, crisp, precise, technically correct dancing.

Monymusk – I wouldn't say I loathed this dance, that would be an exaggeration, but I certainly didn't like it; at least not until I experienced the dance to the right music. And that music was the house band for the Scottish Weekend at Buffalo Gap. Liz Donaldson, Marty Taylor, Ralph Gordon and the other usual suspects that included Steve Hickman, Earl Gaddis and Alasdair Fraser on fiddles. I was there, boy am I ever glad I was there that year. I have loved the dance ever since but it still requires exceptional music and, thank God, I have that. Blessed is the unknown person who taped the band. Blessed too is the person who sent me a copy of their copy. I bow to thee and to thee.

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