Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Haven Summer Social - 27 July 2010

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.

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.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Haven Summer Social - 13 July 2010

Last night was very warm and very sticky and still 12 dancers showed up. All but one regulars of the New Haven or Woodbridge classes and no one, regretfully, from another CT class.  That other was from New Jersey.

Tonight's dances were:

Reekie Linn  (32 J 2)  Jean Attwood leaflet
Rose and Woodbine  (32 S 3) SF 2
Mill of Fortune  (32 J 4) Jean Attwood leaflet
Gordon of Straloch  (32 S 3) Peter Price
It is Time  (32 S 3 set)  Wouter Joubert
The Cashmere Shawl  (32 S 3) Iain Boyd


Reekie Linn - I like the dance. I am not sure that anyone else did but that could be because I used it as a warmup and no one had a functioning brain at that point.

Rose and Woodbine (aka Asilomar Romantic) - Still one of my favourite dances. Definitely on my top 50 and maybe even on my top 10 list. 

Mill of Fortune - This one was my toughie of the night. The conceit of the dance is four sequential and simultaneous half reels of four and right hand turns. It is also a timing dance -  all the dancers need to be spot on for it to work and I may have over reached considering the weather and the melting brains. We managed a few clear rounds but I didn't see it coming together and called it quits. That's when I found out that they all liked the dance. So maybe it is a winter dance and not a dog-day-of-summer dance. This one is definitely worth the work.

Ke Nako (It is Time) - A brand new dance from Wouter Joubert of South Africa to celebrate the FIFA World Cup. 
I really liked the opening 8 bars into the Hello-G'bye setting. I didn't hear a whole lot of talk after but at least one other person liked it a lot.

The Cashmere Shawl - This one just made it onto my Top 50 Strathspey list. It doesn't read as such but it certainly dances that way. Recommended! I used the Hanneke Cassel and Dave Wiesler recording of Irongray. I sped it up a bit and it worked very nicely.