Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Haven Summer Social - 29 June 2010

Leslie Kearney taught.

The evening's dances were:
Robert's Reel  (32 S 3)  Dunsmuir Dances
Hanna's Pride  (32 J 3)  Dunsmuir Dances
The Fiddlehead  (32 S 3)  Dunsmuir Dances
Fair Ronny's Reel  (32 R 3)  Dunsmuir Dances
Outside the Box  (32 S 3)  Between the Rivers
The Stella Strathspey  (32 S 3 set) Bob Gregg - leaflet
Margot's Love  (32 J 3)  Dunsmuir Dances


All the dances but one were from  Dunsmuir Dances and Between the Rivers. And what incredible books they are. I don't think there is a boat anchor dance in either book. To put it another way - I am willing to spend money on a dance book if there are 2 good dances in it. In these books MOST of the dances are good, if not great. Mind you I wouldn't do all of them on a regular basis but many of them - oh yes.

From the Dunsmuir book: Maurice is perhaps my favorite strathspey of all time. Other favorites of mine are: Linnea's Strathspey, Miss Jane Muirhead, Mole's Frolic, and The Fiddlehead. I have enjoyed dancing these others too: Crowecombe and StogumberFair Ronny's ReelHanna's PrideMargot's LoveRobert's ReelThe SeamstressSleeper's Awake and Sunday Afternoon Jig.

I cannot think of another book that has such a high proportion of good dances in it - other than Between the Rivers. That book has 17 dances and I have danced and enjoyed the following: A Winter's WalkHolden My OwnOn Hudson CreekFoggy River ReelGypsy WeaverOutside the Box and The Silver Thistle Ball.

I can't speak of most of the other dances because I haven't danced them. The only one I haven't liked is A Wee Nothin' - not because it is a bad dance, it isn't - but it is so basic that it is no challenge at all - and I need to be challenged in some manner to find a dance interesting. (Note: this is a great dance for beginners or for a warm up early in a dance program).

To put all this in perspective: either Leslie or I have programed the following dances on the Kilts and Ghillies Ball:
Maurice, Linnea's Strathspey, On Hudson Creek, Gypsy Weaver, The Silver Thistle Ball, Holden My Own, and Mole's Frolic.

Too both Crowcombe and Stogumber and Miss Jane Muirhead of Dunsmuir have appeared on recent New Haven Highland Ball programs.

So kudos to Leslie for finding these books and being willing to work through them.  


The Stella Strathspey is a work in progress by Bob Gregg who taught it. The talk through had me squirming but once the dance got under way I found myself enjoying it. There are real possibilities here. Nice job!

The Fiddlehead - This is one where embroidery makes the dance - and I saw many missed opportunities. The secret to this dance is to turn the long way into place when ever possible- and there are many possibles.

The one place I disagree with Leslie's  interpretation is on bars 7-8.
The directions read:
     ... while 1st and 2nd women turn with left hands to
     face partners in a diagonal line between 1st man's 
     and 2nd woman's places.

Note: 1M ends these bars in 2L's place and 2M in top man's place while 1L starts in partner's place and 2L in home place.

Leslie had the ladies turning more than once round in 2 steps which I found busy. If I were to embroider the moment my preference would be to have them turn only half round (1 step) and pivot in place (1 step Lsh back) to face partner. This would be more in keeping with the curly theme of the fiddlehead (IMHO). The simplest interpretation however would be to have the ladies turn halfway in 2 bars and flow directly into the reel of four that follows. A Keep It Simple movement.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Haven Summer Social - 22 June 2010

Teachers were: Peter Price (just the warm up) and Leslie Kearney.

The Dances were:
Kendall's Hornpipe  (32 J 2) Graded Book #22
Three Quarters = Seventyfive Sense  (32 S 3 set)  Between the Rivers (Barnes)
The Bonny Heather  (32 S 2)  Between the Rivers (Ways)
Corrievrechan  (32 R 3)  Barry Priddey
A Trip to Lorient  (32 S 4)  RSCDS Leaflet 2008
Silver Thistle Ball  (32 S 3 set)  Between the Rivers
Sueno's Stone  (32 R 3)  RSCDS Leaflet 2008

New Haven Summer Social - 15 June 2010

Summer Social Dancing in New Haven has begun!
Tonight's Teacher was Leslie Kearney and tonight's dances were (in no particular order):

The Seamstress  (40 S 3 set) Claudette Sigg
Toad of Toad Hall  (32 R 3) Tom Winter
The Stolen Kiss  (32 S 3)  Claudette Sigg
Sleepers Awake  (32 R 3) Tom Winter
Sunday Afternoon Jig  (32 J 3) Shari Salis
New Dance  by Bob Gregg

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dancing on the Heights - 14 June 2010

Summer is here which means heat and humidity and no AC at the Friends. Deal with it. It is far better than having AC and cold muscle injuries. Too, it means I have fewer opportunities to teach and this blog gets a little slow.

We had 5 couples for the first part of the night. It was wonderful! Gold star to the Goldbergs who drove up from Brooklyn just for this class.  And another gold star for Deb Leary for the honey-gingerale recipe that is sooo good.

Tonight's dances were:
The Wee Cooper of Fife  (40 J 2) Hugh Foss
Gordon of Straloch   (32 S 3)  Peter Price
The Land of Oz  (32 R 3)  John Drewry
Lang May Your Lum Reek  (32 J 2) Barry Priddey
Bill Clement, MBE  (32 J 3) John Wilkinson
Castle Douglas  (32 S 3)  Roy Goldring


The Wee Cooper of Fife - I remember this dance with great fondness but have been mildly dissapointed both times I have taught it recently. Personally, the 10 bar phrases are no longer the marvelous oddity that used to be so much fun. And I find the dance to be what I call a "huffin' puffer" - a 2C dance with no let up or resting places build in. Not a problem when I was 30 and in good shape. An issue when 58 and dealing with creaky legs.

Gordon of Straloch - The music makes the dance. The band is Waverley Station led by Liz Donaldson; the CD is First Stop; the two tunes are "Rorate coeli" and "I long for thy virginitie". The latter from the Straloch Lute Book of 1627 from whence the name of the dance comes. The music is sublime. The dance is pretty and is published on the Eight by Thirty Two web site (here).

The Land of Oz - from Drewry's Australian Book. Another Huffin' Puffer! But boy do I like the transition from chase and cross into circle! But I am now thinking perhaps not for a ball program that already includes The Wee Cooper of Fife - too many Huffin' Puffers is not a good thing.

Lang May Your Lum Reek - I have thaught this before and commented on it before. The third 8 bars relies on good, strong, accurate pas de basque steps. In other words you gotta move!

Bill Clement, MBE - Eh. It's OK. But it will never make my top 50 list.

Castle Douglas - I have been teaching this dance since 1995, and it continues to be one of my favourites. Take a special partner for this one.