Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Haven Summer Social - 20 July 2010

Another warm muggy night, but not nearly the oven that the last couple of weeks were. Thank you lord.
Once again 12 dancers were present and, once again, thank you lord, 'cause that meant I could teach a 12-some reel by Barry Priddey that I have wanted to do for some time now - since the day the book arrived in the mail.

Thank you Susan and Ed for the lovely drippy watermelon, thank you Deborah for the veggie chips and thank you Bill and Alice for the seltzer.

Tonights dances were:
The Solway Reel  (48 R 4) Carlisle & Border Anniversary Bk.
Monadh Leath  (32 S 3) John Drewry
Twelvesome Reel  (32 R 6 square)  Barry Priddey
Unnamed Dance  (32 R 3) Bob Gregg
Bratach Bhana  (32 R 3) John Drewry


The Solway Reel - One of my favourite dances. And, contrary to the commonly held myth, some of the dances I like really are simple. I have found only one recording for this dance and it isn't very good so I continue to use Jimmy Blair's recording of Lady Sophia Anne of Bute. Good upbeat march tunes and the dancers respond to them.

It is interesting to note the difference that 9 years makes. (I last taught this in May 2001 and I know that it has been taught at least once by another New Haven teacher). Tonight dancers were on time - and what a difference that makes!

Monadh Leath - figure of note: balance in lines of 4 with Highland Schottische setting, dancers facing in alternate directions, into half reels of four. Lovely. The hardest part of the dance: getting the dancers to take hands and remake that line of four whenever possible, especially just before the entry into the half reels.

Twelvesome Reel - Oh my. I had NO idea.  I have been trying to diagram (pilling style) this dance since the book arrived. Usually, translating a dance's written directions into diagram form teaches me the dance - I get to see it as a whole pattern. Not this time.  So I finally just taught it from the book which I hate to do. And it was a delight to do. The last 8 bars are the only difficult part because the progression happens so quickly.

Formation - 4 couples in a square with 2 couples in the center ( #5 facing up to #1 and #6 facing down to #3) all proper (men on left, ladies on the right).

Heart of the Dance - parallel reels of four with head couples then with side couples. What makes the dance special is this - couples 5 & 6 do NOT pass left shoulder on bar 8 but cut the reels a little short, and the men get to do a twirl and really flip their kilts (ladies - enjoy the view!).

What follows is unique in my experience - there are four "teapots" - Right Hands Across for 3 dancers at each of the four corners of the set flowing into 1/4 chase while #s 5 & 6 dance half LHA into:  heads & centers change places with half RHA.

Bottom Line: Do it. Dancers were struggling but almost all of them had smiles on their faces even though it never quite came together for the full six rounds. Now #52 on my Top 50 Reels list.

Bratach Bhana - coming up soon - on Brooklyn's Drewry Night program. Great music if I can get my iTunes files read by Windows Media Player. The best version I have is by Andrew Rankine but it is way fast. I could slow it down with Windows Media Player if only Windows Media Player could find it. I really hate the Microsoft Windows world.

I like the dance as it is being done, but I like it better the way John originally wrote it. After the diagonal  promenade to change the corners he had 1C and corners turn into place, as couples, with pas de basque! I love it that way. The current style, to open out with skip change of step, is easier but has no soul, no panache. John must have taken a whole lot of grief because he almost never knuckles under to outside pressure.

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