As is almost always the case, especially after having six couples for the last two weeks, when I plan six-couple dances, and I prepared three of them, I only get five and a half couples. One more person, please, just one more...
Tonight's dances were:
Hana Strathspey (32 S 3) Alex Gray
The Sea Caves (32 R 5) Green - Southern Stars
The Glenora Ferry (40 J 3) Terry Glasspool
Ythanside (32 S 3) John Drewry
A Winter's Walk (32 J 3) Pam Stephens
The Black Craig of Dee (32 R 3) Hugh Foss
Hana Strathspey - I have the Tokyo 25th Anniversary CD with the music for this dance and the dance directions are in the liner notes. The music doesn't do it for me (what ever 'it' is), but the dancers liked it. The dance itself is a very basic dance - not a bad thing because there are basic dances and then there are boring basic dances which, according to the mob, this one isn't.
The dance is by Alex Grey, present chairman of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, who taught it at the New York Branch's Pawling Weekend this past May. It introduces his figure "The Helix" which is sweet.
I give it a 72 - but I am a tough grader.
The Sea Caves - By Jeff Green, whom I have never heard of before, but I hope to hear more of him in the future, 'cause this is a fun dance. It is from his Southern Stars Book.
What I find neat is the rather different progression - in a 5C set the usual is: 1s and 3s start together and after one round of the dance 1C is in 3rd place and 3C is at the bottom. So, starting at the top, each couple dances twice-and-to-the-bottom, just like all the 8x32 3C dances we have been doing since our first day of dancing.
Here 1C dance it once and end at the bottom while 3C end in top place and repeats from there. Different.
And for the active dancers in the reel of four - 8 bars is just enough time to dance half way round the set and I do mean just.
If I don't sound enthusiastic enough it is because I have been up since 5:30 this AM and I don't do mornings well at all. The dance made it onto my A list. OK?
The Glenora Ferry - by Terry Glasspool - by TERRY GLASSPOOL - ANOTHER good Terry Glasspool dance. Have you got it yet? Do I need to say more? Great dance. The circulating Allemande, where 1C (in 2nd place) start out and up while 2C 3C start out and down, is a thing of beauty.
Ythanside - a pastorale - another dance of surpassing beauty. Kudos to Leslie Kearney for introducing me to this dance. I had read it over but not recognized it for what it is. The high point is the last figure (circles) and the key to the circles is the last 4 bars of the previous figure:
Lines of 3 set a second time, then while 1C cast to own sides the 2 corner men, and the 2 corner ladies, turn BH half round in 2 bars. SLOWLY! and merge smoothly into the circles of three on the sides, then the circles of three must begin to speed up and merge into the circle of 6 which needs to keep accelerating to get everyone far enough round to make to own sides. Sweet! The previous 20 bars of dance is just a set-up for these last 12 bars.
Not only is it on my A list, it is in fact on my Top 50 Strathspey list, and is actually one of my top 10 strathspeys of all time. (And the music makes the dance so do use the right music).
A Winter's Walk - by Pam Stephens from Between the Rivers. I like what Pam is doing. This is a fun dance and definitely on my A list of Top 50 Jigs. And Between the Rivers is one of my two favourite dance books - the other being Dunsmuir Dances from the Dunsmuir class in the San Francisco area. These books have more winners than any other 5 books of dances I have seen.
The Black Craig of Dee - One of my favourites. Love that music. Like the dance.
Dance by Hugh Foss, music by Peter White. One of the top items on my "in-my-lifetime" wish list: that the Peter White/Hugh Foss albums be remastered and issued on CD.
The Foss dances are good, if not great, and certainly of historical importance, while the music Peter White wrote/arranged and plays approaches the sublime because theirs was a collaboration and the fit of music and dance is near perfect.