Thursday, February 25, 2010

Westchester Class - 24 February 2010

Tonight's Dances:
Winter Wonder (32 R 3) J. Lataille - Fun for All Seasons
She's Ower Young to Marry Yet (32 S 3) 14/8
Glen Falloch (32 J 3) J. Attwood - Alexander 2
The Nurseryman (32 J 3) 37/7
The Dundee Whaler (32 S 4) R. Clowes - Ormskirk
The Belle of the Ball (32 R 3) I. Boyd - The South Gate


Winter Wonder – What a sweet dance! Recommended.
She's Ower Young… – You gotta know how to take a circle to a line. Otherwise fugeddaboutit.
Glen Falloch – Yet another winner from Jean Attwood.
The Nurseryman – The magic is not in the Inverting DTs, it's in the transition out of the wheels into the lines.
The Dundee Whaler – The handing: so easy yet so difficult. Aii yiii yii.
The Belle of the Ball – A simple dance but you need to have your wits about you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Westchester Class – 17 February 2010

So nice to be back. Weather and illness have forced the cancellation of my last three classes.

Tonight's dances:
Joie de Vivre (32 J 3) 39/2
Maurice (32 S 2) Dunsmuir
The White Cockade (32 R 3) 5/11
The Hunting Horn (32 J 3) (beginner's dance from Susan Ferguson).
Collie Law (32 J 2) Goldring
Sage and Salsa (32 M 3 set) J. Lataille
Lady Dumfries (32 R 3) Misc. 1


Maurice – Once again a positive response. On my "top ten best dances of all time" list and every time I see it danced I fall in love with it all over again. I promise we will do this again next week.

Lady Dumfries – My oops moment of the night. I got it wrong, just slightly, but wrong is still wrong.
I teach from Pilling style diagrams and my version of his system has evolved over time. This dance was diagrammed a long time ago and doesn't conform to current standards thus leading me into error. Correction due next week. Music- Muriel Johnstone's recording for the Miscellanies. One of the most laid back, lilting reel sets I have ever heard.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dancing on the Heights (Friends Meeting House)

A good evening was had by all. And the all was 5 couples!

Tonight's dances:
Winter Wonder (32 H 3) J. Lataille
The Bonny Heather (32 S 2) Between the Rivers (Harry Ways)
The Merry Ploughboy (32 R 3) B. Priddey - SDArchives #132
John of Bon Accord (32 R 3) 33/5 (R. Goldring)
She’s Ower young to Marry Yet (32 S 3) 14/8

Winter Wonder - Discussed in an earlier post.

The Bonny Heather - doesn't float my boat, but the others liked it.

The Merry Ploughboy - Two big obstacles to overcome. First: finding the right music - laid back leisurely reels are an absolute necessity. I ended up using Muriel Johnstone's set for Lady Dumfries. Recommended. Second: dancers need to get over the weirdness of Half Lefts and Rights. One great suggestion from the floor - teach it and dance it as a strathspey first. Worked like a charm. Sense of the meeting - worth doing again.

Dance opens with 1C turning RH 1-1/4 round moving down to 2nd place. I have rarely seen moving turns look good - my contribution was to suggest dancing first 1/2 turn in place then 'cross' down and turn the final 1/4. The turns improved.

She's Ower Young to Marry Yet - Just two observations: The setting and circles need to look good as they are a central part of the dance. So using bars 7&8 to 'draw' the circles into lines - proper technique per the manual - makes a huge difference.
Too, getting the third figure to work smoothly requires some creative thinking. What I saw when the dancers met and started down on bar 17 it did not look good. My suggestion is for 1C to dance up and then in to meet on bar17, use bars 18-20 to dance down the middle to third place (do-able with a controled step), cross bar 21, and dance up the sides for bars 22-24. See manual for Promenade 3 Couples: there are principles in common.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Westchester Class - 3 February 2010

Another good night in Westchester but the cries of "please teach ball dances" are beginning. Fie, I say unto you, fie.

Why? Because
most of the New Haven Ball program is Society and straight forward. Not one crooked dance there. The only rare birds are: The Talcott Mountain Strathspey; The Glenalmond Gameskeeper; The Valentine; She's Ower young to Marry Yet; and The Bonny Heather.

The Glenalmond Gameskeeper has been on one of Westchester's own balls recently so that dance shouldn't be an issue, and She's Ower Young is early RSCDS (Bk 14) and should not be grounds for a Pepto-Bismol moment. The Valentine is new. It was published just this past year by RSCDS but newness is the only issue. That leaves The Talcott Mountain Strathspey and The Bonny Heather - both simple and both with just one unusual (not hard) move.

The following dances from the New Haven Ball and Brunch programs were taught tonight: Joie de Vivre, The Black Leather Jig, The River Cree and Over the Water to Charly. I will not be making a practice of this.

It is the Kilts and Ghillies Ball Program that has the more exotic(?) program. There are two (2) crooked dances: Maurice and Rakes of Auld Reekie. Maybe The Duchess Tree too, but only because it has not been done much these last few years; but not Back to Back which, though warped, is a repeat from the '07 ball as is Holden My Own. Glen Falloch is an unknown but it is not crooked. Rakes of Auld Reekie I taught last week and will again, and Maurice will be taught thoroughly over the next few weeks. Dinna frash yourselves.

Now, back to tonight's dances:
Joie de Vivre (32 J 3) 39/2
Rovin' Robin (32 R 2) SDA #4
Mrs Fitchet (32 S 2) H. Foss - Angus Fitchet Album
The Black Leather Jig (32 R 3) Delaware Valley Silver
Over the Water to Charly (32 J 3) 34/5
The River Cree (32 J 2) 8/5
Dance #39 (32 S 3 set) RSCDS pre-Bk 46

Joie de Vivre - hardest thing about this dance is keeping all the pieces in order. It was tonight's warm up and the two beginners had little or no problem with it.

Rovin' Robin – I apologize for the music. I switched at the last moment much to my regret. The best music for this dance has a real happy go lucky feel. What I used slowly sank into seriousness. Even more fun when mishaps happen and you lose your partner.

Mrs Fitchet – A very simple little dance that is growing on me. But simple means you need to be impeccable or you miss the magic moments. (See my earlier posts of 11 and 12 January).

The Black Leather Jig – I am always amazed when I teach this dance - I expect trouble with the timing of the reels but 1C always seems to figure it out on the fly and I never have to intervene. And I just love the Set to Corner-Turn Partner variation on Hello-Goodbye setting - when it is done right.

Over the Water to Charly – I am becoming a convert to the Edinbugh rules for Set To and Turn Corners. Sorry Headquarters. But with all the aging bodies the quality and energy of the pas de basque has diminished to such an extent that skip change for the two hand turn is making a whole lot of sense. And dancers who can pas de basque correctly, in rhythm, giving proper weight, are rare now; and too corners who dance in to meet the 1s and help them into position.

But I also know this: There is nothing better in this world than a pas de basque turn with a partner of equal ability: when you are both completely in sync the step becomes effortless and you fly. And when you both know how to create a turn… Love Potion No. 9, move over, I don't need you any more.

The absolute essential = a proper 3 beat pas de basque. If you don't have this - you got nothin'. The magic will not happen. And I cannot tell you how much fun you are missing. There just aren't words enough. You will understand when, if, you experience it.

I bear some responsibility for this state of affairs - I haven't been teaching this to dancers. And I have lots of reasons why. Bottom line though - it is part of my job and I haven't. And the world is a less joyous place.

The River Cree – A simple, mindless jig. Just one thing of which you must beware - Advance and Retire is skip change ALL the way - yes Virginia, backwards too! So… what is it you're doing?

Dance No. 39 – Book 46 test dance. And I thank you for your tolerance Westchester. I really messed up with that there Espagnole, I shouldn't have done it in the social half. But still and all a nice dance and a keeper in my opinion.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kilts and Ghillies Class - 2 February 2010

Interesting night – and I think it best that I leave it at that.

Tonight's dances:
Winter Wonder (32 R 3) J. Lataille - Fun for All Seasons
Maurice (32 S 2) Dunsmuir Dances (G. Thomas)
Homeward Bound (32 R 3) I. Boyd - TWATC
Mrs Stewart's Jig (32 J 3) 35/1
The Talcott Mountain Str. (32 S 3) Nutmeg Coll.
Catch the Wind (32 H 3) Island Bay