Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dancing on the Heights - 9 August 2010

The weather turned hot and muggy again and only four dancers showed up. That gave me the space to do some individual coaching. And, Hooray for me,  I had prepared a number of 2C dances so I wasn't scrambling for material.

One dance was completely new, one was a favourite from the Kilts and Ghillies Ball circa 2005 and the other two were recent finds of mine that have been given the top accolade of applause from the floor. Mind you there are two possible reasons for applause - either the dancers really liked the dance or they are really happy it is done and over with.

And regarding that favourite dance, Terry Glasspool's Gypsy Dreams - before tonight I have taught it only once in the last five years, and that was in April of this year. And it bothers me that when we find real gems, and Gypsy Dreams is definitely a gem, we don't make sure, by repetition, that the dance becomes part of our repertoire. And I know how difficult the initial teaching was, and tonight I was astonished at how inherently easy the dance really is. So why?

Susan Leff offered a solution - build up a repertoire of dances linked to the Kilts and Ghillies ball. This is what the Brooklyn, NY class does with their Drewry Night. They program the neat but difficult dances every other year or so. Worth considering.

Tonight's dances were:
Cubbie Roo  (32 J 2)  J. Attwood
The Burn of Sorrow  (32 S 2) B. Priddey
Lang May Your Lum Reek  (32 J 2) B. Priddey
Gypsy Dreams  (32 S 2) T. Glasspool
Elixabeth Adair  (32 J 2) Hugh Foss


Cubbie Roo - Jean Attwood. Worth a second take, mainly because I think different music would be a huge improvement. It was the first dance of the evening and that was probably a mistake. The dance requires mental clarity and precision. With neither minds nor legs warm precision was out of the question. A relentless dance, a proper set would have been a great relief.

The Burn of Sorrow - Dancers like this one (two trials and two positive responses). Me too. What I like is the contrast between the strong turn and loop that follows the initial right hands across and the much slower no turn and loop (in four) out of the left hands across. Too, I simply adore the tourbillon progression and was tickled pink when one of the dancers wanted to work on the timing. It is so lovely when done right.

The key to the tourbillon, IMHO, is the timing of the handing. The turn with partner is only a half turn - that puts 1M into position to dance down the Ladies' side into 2L's position and by dropping his left (partner's right) hand after just one step he gets to 'draw' her back to her place, where they then set on the sides with near hands joined. They turn again, again only half way, and that puts 1L in position to dance across to 2M's place. By dropping her left hand (partner's right) after just one step she gets to 'draw' 1M back to 2L's place. And here is the but - But the only way they can be in 2nd place on the sides across from one another is if they drop both hands. And here is the big but - BUT don't drop them at the same time! She should drop her left hand first and a moment later, after setting up the illusion of the draw, she should drop her right hand and dance across the set as 1M dances back into 2L's place. Couples now cross to own sides.

Another consideration - the nature of the figure is inherently curvy. From lines to turns (think 2 person circles) to lines and set. From lines to turns (again think circles) to the side lines and cross. Think covering too.

I am SO tempted to put this on the K&G ball.

Lang May Your Lum Reek - We have another Winnah! With sixteen bars of lullaby to get you to lower your guard, and then...  Wham! Eight bars of Rotating Ptolemaic Epicyclic Hello Goodbye setting no less. ( no lie - that is the name we came up with tonight - and not me, it was Bob Cole!) And the progression is one the simplest and most satisfying I have ever danced.

And, gulp, I did succumb to temptation and I have put it on the K&G program for April.

Gypsy Dreams - So beautiful! I have no other words. You have to dance this one at least once in your life. And once you have, once won't be enough. This is my #1 strathspey despite of the tournee.

Susan, you are absolutely right. So I promise, I will teach and program Gypsy Dreams more often.

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