Thursday, December 22, 2011

Elmsford - 21 December 2011

Another good evening with two dances that needed thorough teaching. Forget Me Knot, a repeat from last week, and Peggy Spouse M.B.E.. The latter was a surprise because I was sure it had been taught here by one of the other teachers.

The evening's dances were:

     Ann Arbor  (32 J 3) Bob Gregg
     Forget Me Knot  (32 S 3 set)  Brian Youngman
     The Captain  (32 R 3) Russ King
     Balgeddie Reel  (32 R 5) Mary S. Brandon
     Gary Scott's Jig  (32 J 3)  Tim Wilson
     Peggy Spouse M.B.E.  (32 S 3)  46/1
     The Kilt Maker  (32 R 4) P. Burrage


Ann Arbor:-  Another good opening jig from New Haven's Bob Gregg. A trick I learned from this dance was how to get a set to assume the proper width - have them walk an advance and retire. They will retire to the proper width even if they had begun with too narrow a set.

Forget Me Knot:- I got bogged down yet again. I did not pick one teaching method but was hung up trying to teach the dance two differing ways. In hindsight this dance should be taught in pure Society method. I walk it, they walk it; I dance it, they dance it - for each eight bar phrase.

The key to this dance is phrasing - it needs to be precise because good dancing is rewarded and sloppy dancing is punished. The hooks on which this dance succeeds (or fails) are the turns which transition into the two half reels.

DanceData has the crib  and the links to both the full instruction set and the paper music for this dance.

The Captain:- A simple dance and well received... yet again. Seems to becoming a regular thing too. I suspect the music has a lot to do with it. I have been using the Dave Wiesler/Mara Shea recording for Sleepwalking off their Heather Hills Cd. Hot stuff & recommended.

Balgeddie Reel:- Another dance that ended with cheers and clapping and a cry for 'once-and-to-the-bottom!'
There is definitely a place for simple but fun dances and this one qualifies. Dancer's Choice Award.

Gary Scott's Jig:-  It has its moments but tonight, for the first time, the setting (10 bars worth) was a burden and not a joy. Hmmm.

Peggy Spouse M.B.E.:-  I remember listening in on a long involved discussion concerning the transition into the half strathspey poussette the crux of which was the adjustment necessary for the 1st man and 2nd woman. We did not have a problem. Both couples were able to give hands with no more than a slight stepping in by supporting partners. There is a reason and it is the fact of how close the dancers in this area (tristate area certainly) stand and form sets. The uTube videos of British  dancers show a much wider set. Look up the Society's summer school demos in Younger Hall. Astonishing.

The Kilt Maker:- Describes, in dance, the measuring, weaving, pleating, sewing and showing off of a kilt. Two thumbs up!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Elmsford - 14 December 2011

I find it difficult to remember and stay aware of what I know and what the different groups I teach don't know. When I started dancing, for example, The Saint John River was on many programs for several years. I have done it. To death. I have always considered it a "fun once in awhile dance" and that means about once a year or so and it is therefore never on my mind when I prepare class or party programs which means I have not taught it - ever - until this night when it was requested by a new teacher who had only done it her first year of dancing and wanted to learn it.

I also taught Forget Me Knot for no reason other than I had the music and wanted  to try the dance. I like the music (by Mara Shea and Dave Wiesler) so much that I am sorely tempted to use it for many of the 3C set strathspeys I like. Not a good habit to fall into. If the dance is good enough it should be done to it's name tune, and the name tune should be reserved for it's dance. Rats.

I am going to do Forget Me Knot again because I lost track of time and had to rush the teaching. Never a good thing. Here's to better time control and, the next time, I will be more conscious of the oddities of the dance

The evening's dances were:
      Collie Law  (32 J 2)  Goldring
     The Docent's Tour  (32 S 3) Tim Wilson
     The Wandering Drummer  (32 R 3 set)  Iain Boyd
     Forget Me Knot  (32 S 3 set)  Brian Youngman
     Mrs. Stewart's Jig  (32 J 3)  35/1
     The St. John River  (32 S 4) P. Edwards
     Knights' Heys  (32 H 3) T. Glasspool


Collie Law:- Good dance for teaching 2C allemande, it also is a reasonable opening dance to get dancers warmed up gently.

The Docent's Tour:- A delightful dance from Tim Wilson. I am 'featuring' him on next year's Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance by putting three of his dances on the program: The Docent's Tour, The Elusive Muse, Gary Scott's Jig. All are from the RSCDS San Francisco Branch's book Measures of Pleasure and there isn't a turkey in the bunch, in fact many of the dances are great. I remember when I bought a book if there was ONE good dance in it (Grampian Collection for example for Rest and Be Thankful). I am now getting spoiled.

The Wandering Drummer:- I just had to do it because I didn't want to do two strathspeys in a row. Nice simple beginner reel I keep it in my box for those times I have a beginner walk in.

Forget Me Knot:-  My goodness the music is simply divine. Thank you Dave for the set and the lead tune.
The dance, on first visit, is pretty good but has some oddities that dancers found mildly disconcerting. The big one being the unequal nature of the central figure where first corners dance pass and turn, half reel, then dance Lsh pass & turn and half reel home. 2nd corners reel don't get any pass & turn at all.

Mrs Stewart's Jig:-  It is one of the standards and for good reason: it is dance-able many times without getting heartily sick of it and it has been and is getting danced many times in the greater NY area.

The St. John River:-  My big oops for the night. I either wasn't looking or I was looking but my tongue took on a life of it's own.  The third figure is down the middle and up with 2C, 3c and 4C following. Not what I said. It is definately different and, in my opinion, a better dance with the arches being made sequentially. There was a TAC Talk newsletter that dealt with local variations (frowned upon). The timing of the arches I agree on the issue of whether or not 4C meet and touch hands -  or not - is a mountain over a mole hill issue in my opinion. Off my soap box now.  Good night all.

Knights' Heys:- One of my all time, top 50, favourite reels. Great dance! The reels were designed to imitate the move of the knight in chess.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Party on the Heights - 12 December 2011

Party Night! and have you noticed that when you say that how many more dancers you get?

The evening's programme was:

Aldebaran  (32 J 3)  Bob Gregg
Adieu Mon Ami   (32 S 3)  Bk 24/11
Solway Reel  (48 R 4)  Joseph Killeen
Pete and Marilynn's Welcome Home  (32 J 3) Glasspool
The Kilt Maker  (32 R 4)  P. Burrage
Airie Bennan  (32 J 5)  H. Foss
The Docent's Tour  (32 S 3)  Tim Wilson
Knights' Heys  (32 R 3)  T. Glasspool

Elmsford - 7 December 2011

Just another evening of dance. A few dances from the upcoming Westchester New Year's eve program and a few from the Kilts and Ghillies' Tea Dance program and we have an full evening.

The evening's dances were:
     Cabbages and Kings   (32 J 3)  Harbour City Coll.
     The Dean Bridge of Edinburgh   (32 S 3)   Bk 23/4
     The Chicago Loop   (32 R 3)  Kent Smith
     The Elusive Muse   (32 J 3 set)  Tim Wilson
     The Border Weavers   (32 S 3 set)  Alex Grey
     Christine M. Phillips   (32 J 3)  Bk 46/1
     Broadway   (32 S 3 set)  Chris Ronald


Cabbages and Kings:-  A simple introduction to corners and a fine opening (read warm-up) dance.

The Dean Bridge of Edinburgh:- I taught this in 2002 and not again until this summer. It is growing on me but isn't likely to become my favourite strathspey of all time but, as I said, it is growing on me. I am not sure why the original directions for bars 17-20 read as two simultaneous half rights & lefts with the couple at the top crossing to begin and 3rd and 1st couples facing on the side to begin. It is an interesting concept but all it really is is a half grand chain 2 bars per hand. I find it much easier for the dancers to wrap their aching heads around that concept then the "as written" one.

The Chicago Loop:- This dance, in the words of the great contra-dance caller Ralph Paige, is "a little stinker".
Looks nice and easy until you have to remember the correct hand to use on bar 21.

The Elusive Muse:- This dance keeps garnering hearty applause and wide smiles when it is over. Neat dance and well deserving of its Dancer's Choice Award. Tim Wilson has written a number of very nice dances and is fast becoming one of my favourite devisors. I have put this one, and two others of his, on the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance in the hope that he becomes popular. He deserves it.

The Border Weavers:- The music for this dance is just scrumptious and carries the dance. Which needs space so the set can expand to accommodate the three couple petronella into line. Only a B/B+ dance in my opinion the music kicks it up a notch and it is worth doing again.

Christine M. Phillips:- A dancer's dance. If you still do not know how to dance a half reel of four, still do not know that if you start in the middle you MUST pass somebody by left shoulders on bar 4 you should stay in your chair. This dance rewards good knowledgeable dancers and that is why it too is on the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program.

Broadway:- What a neat dance! Recommended.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Elmsford - 30 November 2011

What an eventful evening!  Margaret Green, our 93yo wonder, took a serious tumble while casting around first corner, took a pressure cut from her glasses and cracked or bruised (we're not yet sure which) a rib. EMTs, police, fire and ambulance, ride to the hospital, all in all the full nine yards, and I took over the class that evening because Sue Ferguson was still under the weather, and she is almost never under the weather. Even with all that and only about 24 hour notice I had a good evening teaching. Which begs the question: what is a good evening for a teacher. For me it is an evening where I make no major faux pas, at least one person has an "aha!" moment and that night it was I.

My moment came when I taught Jean Attwood's dance Five Penny Ness to a group of of good dancers who had a tough time with it. It hadn't looked difficult, in fact it looked positively easy, even easy enough for beginners, and all I can say now is that looks can be deceiving. This dance does NOT dance as easily as it looks. (Some dances, especially most of John Drewry's, dance easier than they look or read). I took Five Penny Ness off the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance as soon as I got home that evening.

The dances I taught were:
     The Captain   (32 R 3)  San Francisco Solstice Party
     The Belle of Bon Accord   (32 S 4)  J. Drewry
     Five Penny Ness     (32 J 5)   Jean Attwood
     Ann Arbor      (32 J 3)  Bob Gregg
    reprise of Ann Arbor
     The Dancing Man   (32 H 3)   Roy Goldring


The Belle of Bon Accord:- A lovely dance that I had not been exposed to until this year's John Drewry Night sponsored by the Brooklyn class of the NY Branch. Now on my top 50 strathspey list.

Five Penny Ness:- I think it is the meanwhile figure and the piece count which is high and the position changes at both ends. Scrapped. No longer on the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program.

The Captain, Ann Arbor, and The Dancing Man I have discussed previously.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Haven Branch Class - 29 November 2011

There was a nice turnout last night - 7 couples plus an extra which made a nice even number for dancing The Earl of Mansfield, a four couple dance from John Drewry, published by the Society as a leaflet. And where have I been? I know I looked at it sometime ago and I usually have enough of an eye to pick out interesting and fun dances so how did I miss this one?

There is a "John Drewry" night dance coming up this weekend in Brooklyn, NY. That means there is a strong push from dancers to "be prepared" which can be rather limiting for teachers. I have, thankfully, gotten exposure to 2 dances I would never have done otherwise: The Earl of Mansfield and The Belle of Bon Accord. I am not sure I would put them in my top 10 list but they certainly make the top 50. Fun and different enough to be attention getters.

The evening's dances were:
     Ann Arbor  (32 J 3) Bob Gregg
     Earl of Mansfield   (48 R 4)  John Drewry
     Duchess Tree   (32 S 3)   John Drewry
     The Elusive Muse   (32 J 3)   Tim Wilson
     Anna Holden's Strathspey   (32 S 2)    John Drewry
     Solway Reel   (48 R 4)  Joseph Killeen


Ann Arbor :-  It's a pleasant wee dance that does a very subtle but lovely thing: it sets the proper width of the set with the advance and retire in 2nd eight bar phrase. It is also a nice warm up to the rest of the evening. Thank you Bob.

Earl of Mansfield :- You will not survive falling asleep in this dance. And the 'hook' on which the entire dance hangs together is the bar 31-32 moment when 3rd couple must, absolutely must, end back in place with a proper gap between themselves and 2nd couple who are concurrently stepping up to top place. If 3C places themselves in the middle of the gap between 2C at the top and 4C at the bottom then poor 1st man has no idea who is truly his first corner (3L? 4L?) and the chance of recovery is, at best, poor.

Duchess Tree :- Two points. First - yes both 1C and 3C casts into the initial cross over reel but NOT in the same way. 3C is asked to (what I call) 'cuddle' cast. They dance into the middle to meet one another before they pull shoulders back and start their actual cast. I find teachers are leaving that piece of it out and dancers are doing what they are told, are not meeting, and that is throwing the timing of the reel off.
Secondly,the "Set, Circle, Turn (moving the circle along as you turn), Circle" sequence began here, in this dance, and is now, unfortunately, migrating - dancers are now doing it it other dances where there is no need to move the circle on and no has asked them to. They are doing that on their own and it needs to stop! It should remain unique to this dance (IMHO).

But the best dance of the night, the one that got a spontaneous standing ovation was...

The Elusive Muse :- Devised? by Tim Wilson and published in the San Francisco collection Measures of Pleasure this is a really fun dance full of tandem (not dolphin) half reels, a California Twirl and Set and Link for 3. A Dancer's Choice Award recipient and on the Kilts and Ghillies program in April. A Keeper!
I do not have a recording and have been using The Vale of Atholl jig medley by Mara Shea and Dave Wiesler off their Heather Hills CD.

Anna Holden's Strathspey :- One of my favourites! The key word for the 1st figure is control, control and more control. Having a good, properly wide set helps.

The Solway Reel :- The one name tune recording I have for this dance is, I regret to say, a poor one - I don't like the music chosen or how it is played so I continue to use the music I picked when I didn't have a proper recording at all. I use the Jimmy Blair set for Lady Sophia Ann of Bute off his old vinyl record Highland Dance Party. (Teacher's Choice Award).

This year the dance was on NY's Jeannie Carmichael Ball and I was called because they wanted 'my' music. I was certainly feeling warm and fuzzy (not to mention smug and self satisfied) after dancing it at West Point. By the way Parcel of Rogues is a wonderful band - two thumbs up.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gentle Annie 32 S 3 E. Hurd, Del Val 25th Anniversary Book

Gentle Annie
32 S 3C(4)

  1-4    1C turn BH x1_1/2; end in 2nd place center of the dance
            and stay close:
  5-6    1C set right & strong left
  7-8    1L 2C and 1M 3C dance RH Across halfway (2 steps)

  9-12   All dance chase to other end and form lines of 3
             - 1M btwn 3C at top facing down and 1W
             btwn 2C in 3rd place facing up.
13-14   All set
15-16   1C advance to take promenade hold AS
             2C 3C turn ptnr RH half round into promenade hold.
             All end facing down.

17-24   3C Allemande - start down to begin, all retire to end
             on prtnr's side of the dance. End 2, 1, 3 all improper.

25-30  Lsh  Reels of 3 across the dance - 1M up. 1L down.
            NB - 6 bar reels. All end facing prtnr.

31-32   All cross to own sides RH.

Dancing on the Heights - 14 November 2011

I have had an interesting week that culminated in a good class this Monday.

Let me begin with some ancient history.
I began dancing in 1976 and was soon doing a lot of the road trip thing. One of the road trips was an annual pilgrimage to the Delaware Valley Hogmanay ball where I met Eleanor and Robert Hurd who were a strong presence in the country dance world of contra, English and Scottish. Fast forward a few decades.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9th, at the Westchester end of session party Bob Houghton taught a dance (from the Delaware Valley 25th Anniversary book) which I had looked at years ago but never taught as I did not have the necessary music, a medley of Stephen Foster songs, and in his introduction to the dance Gentle Annie he mentioned that the dance had been written by his sister Eleanor who had married Robert Hurd and they subsequently introduced Bob to Scottish dancing.

Well, the dance stole a piece of my heart. I know this because I could remember it and write it down when I got home.  I have taught it twice since then: on Sunday to Naomi Lasher's performance group - The Loch Leven Dancers, and on Monday to my class on the Heights. The response from both groups were smiles and applause even though I did not have the Stephen Foster music. Bob has promised me access to his tape when I am finally moved in at Livingston Street, my electronics are up and running and I am able to make digital copies of his analog tape. Cheers, whistles and stamping from resident peanut gallery.

Gentle Annie is utterly charming and I realized I needed to revisit the Delaware Valley 25th Anniversary book and re-view the dances. There are a number of good dances there and I have done the following: The Black Leather Kilt, The Blue Route, Bubbles in the Pond, Gentle Annie, It's Not Rocket Science, The Man in Waiting and Pete and Marilynn's Welcome Home. Commendable dances all - leaving me with five more dances to check out. The book is Recommended.

Back to Monday: I had notice that several of my regulars would not be attending and I was somewhat worried - Needlesly. The 8 dancers who showed up were great and that allowed me to play - the dances I pulled from my back pocket were all ones I have been looking at and wanting to test. Except for The Captain and The Dean Bridge of Edinburgh I had not taught any of the dances before this evening.

Monday evening's dances were:
   The Captain  (32 R 3)  SF Solstice Party Book*
   Gentle Annie  (32 S 3)  Del Valley 25th (E. Hurd)
   Faradh Nam Fidhlearan   (32 R 4)  Many Happy Hours (Joubert)
   Bubbles in the Pond   (32 S 3)  Del Valley 25th (K. Nealley)
   Home and Away   (32 R 3)  Skelton - Celtic Book
   Dean Bridge of Edinburgh   (32 S 3)  23/4*

*  These dances are on the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program.


The Captain :-  A nice easy dance for everybody and there is a "kilt" moment between bars 24 and 25. The music I have been using is the Shea/Wiesler set for Sleepwalking and with that set of tunes the dance is smoking! I usually don't use reels for warm up dances but with only 2 bars of setting this one works if kept a bit down tempo.

Gentle Annie :- A gentle dance, a lovely dance. Reactions have been nothing but positive.

Faradh nam fidhlearan :-  By Wouter Joubert, Pretoria, South Africa. My initial reading had me thinking a degree of difficulty of 5 out of 5 was appropriate. Dancers thought 3 to 4 out of 5 was more accurate. The one essential is this: dancers have to move! during the hands across into the tandem reels. The only other emphatic point is how the ladies end the reels of 3 and enter the reels of 4. Last figure (back-to-back and circles of 4) was considered by most of my class to be a cop out. My thinking is that if the dance is a difficult one then the dancers need the breathing space. If it is merely of middling difficulty then the dancer don't need the respite and my dancers are correct. I'm still on the fence.

Bubbles in the Pond :- Nice dance! - and that is also the response of the class. This was, as they remember it, their first exposure to the "Bubble Up" figure though I am sure some were present when I taught it in July 2009 (Station Master's Jig (Michael Bentley)).

In the bubble up Kate calls for the dancers to be on the sides facing in every two bars and the only way that can happen (IMHO) is if the dancers drop hands after every half turn. That is how I taught it but it needs exceptional dancing and rehearsal to be covered and looking good. Both the dancers and I preferred it when hands were kept throughout the moving turns.

Home and Away :-  I thought I was going to have trouble with this one - it has the same middle figure as the dance "Best Set in the Hall". Which, as it turned out, most of the dancers knew so I didn't have any trouble at all. Lovely figure, lovely dance and the 2 half dolphin reels at the end are simply spiffin' and liked by all.

Christopher's observation that after setting to their corner 1st couple is always casting back to their own sides was very helpful

Dean Bridge of Edinburgh :- This dance is a sleeper but be warned - in Pilling the diagram for the last figure is VERY WRONG! No hands! And I (unlike Christopher) like the last figure. There may not be much eye contact/interaction between unpartnered dancers but there are lots of opportunities with partner.

As written the description of bars 17-20 call for 2 sets of half R&L. One standard (starting across), the other a variant (starting on the sides). What I see is 2 changes of a grand chain, and my dancers find the idea of the "chain" easier to comprehend.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dancing on the Heights - 10 October 2011

There was a good turnout with a full set for most of the evening allowing me to explore several 4C dances.

The dances taught were:
Lassie wi' the lint white locks  (32 S 2)  Priddey - SDA #115
Ginger Sharks  (32 R 3)  Price - 8x32 Leaflet
Gary Scott's Jig  (32 J 3)  T. Wilson - Measures of Pleasure
Giradet House  (32 S 4 sq)  Francis Carr - leaflet
Ian Powrie's Farewell to Auchterarder  (128 J 4 sq)  leaflet
The Kilt Maker  (32 R 4)  P. Burrage - Pinewoods Coll 2
Maurice  (32 S 2)  G. Thomas - Dunsmuir Dances


Lassie wi' the lint white locks :-  I love a Tournee! Especially when it has an easy entry without any change of direction and the dance has an attractive variation of a standard figure (chevron back-to-back). Keeper!

Ginger Sharks :- A Quick and dirty teaching dance I wrote a few weeks ago and published on Lara's web site  The dance will never receive a Dancer's Choice Award, but it was reasonably well liked when taught to the beginners in Westchester . I wanted to try it out to a more critical audience and what I got were smiles and "It's cute."

Gary Scott's Jig :- I am a Tim Wilson fan. He writes good dances. This one is simple enough (except for the Double Triangles) and the transition from 2nd corner half reel of four into position for the DTs is sweet enough to make the dance a keeper.

Giradet House :- How this dance came into my possession is a story I won't tell at this time. It is in the repertory of Naomi Lasher's Loch Leven Dancers and I got the verbal notes. I found the original directions today, here: <Giradet House>  The crossing reels of four are a fun challenge in this otherwise simple dance. 

Ian Powrie's Farewell to Auchterarder  :- After the long thread on I just had to buy the original leaflet and I found that it was written as a palindrome. I have done it a lot over the years and I still find it fun.

The Kilt Maker :- Fun! Dancer's Choice Award! I believe the original is still available. And did I say "Fun!"?

Maurice :- I love this dance and it is still fresh after 19 teachings. Do it with your sweetie: it rocks. See previous posts if you want more.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dancing on the Heights - 12 September 2011

Yesterday I threw a birthday party for myself with the help my friends and fellow dancers in New Haven.
I brought an ice cream pie and a bottle of champagne and was surprised with two more bottles of bubbly and a wonderful apple, pear and dried cherry crisp from Leslie Kearney. But best of all was the presence of my friends.

What I programmed was a set of dances that I like and hadn't done in ages.

The dances were:
Pete and Marilynn's Welcome Home  (32 J 3) T. Glasspool
Scotland's Gardens   (32 R 3)  R. Goldring
Glen Feshie   (32 S 3)   Grampian Collection
Duncan's Jig   (32 J 3)   D. Ivory
Solway Reel   (48 R 4)  Carlisle and Border Anniversary
Ythanside   (32 S 3)  J. Drewry
Carlaverock Castle  (32 R 3)  P. Price

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Haven Summer Social - July and August 2011

6 September 2011 - Peter Price
     Half Past Two  (32 J 2)  Jane Lataille
    Tumbleweeds  (32 J 4some)  Jane Lataille
    The Four Poster  (32 S 4some)  Terry Glasspool

30 August 2011 - Peter Price
   The Red Baron  (32 R 2)  I. Boyd
   Southwest Sunset   (32 S 4some)  J. Lataille
   The Wandering Drummer  (32 R 3 set)  I. Boyd
   The Painted Desert  (32 S 3 set)  J. Lataille
   Sage and Salsa  (16S+16R 3 set) J. Lataille
   The Cramond Wedding  (32 S 3 set)  I. Boyd

23 August 2011 - Peter Price
   Ann Arbour  (32 J 3) Rbt. Gregg
   The Docent's Tour  (32 S 3) T. Wilson
   The Bee's Wing  (32 H 3)  M. Briggs
   The Song of the Waves  (32 S 6)  B. Priddey
   Christine M. Phillips  (32 J 3)  46/1
   Broadway  (32 S 3 set)  C. Ronald
   Arthur's Seat  (32 R 3) 18C

16 August 2011 - Brian Haeckler
   EH3 7AF  (32 J 3)  Roy Goldring
   Rest and Be Thankful  (32 R 3)  Grampian Coll.
   Autumn in Appin  (32 S 4)  31/5
   Thomas Glover's Reel  (32 R 3)  John Drewry
   Equilibrium  (32 J 3)  Ian Barbour
   Scott Meikle  (32 R 3) 46/3

9 August 2011 - Brian Haeckler
   Good Hearted Glasgow  (32 J 3) Knapman
   Whigmaleeries  (32 R 3)  Derek Ivory
   Mrs Milne of Kineff  (32 S 4 sq)  L 32
   The Clansman  (32 R 2)  32/8
   Pibroch Reel  (32 R 3)  Bob Gregg
   Wind on Loch Fyne  (32 S 3 tri)  Roy Goldring
   MacPherson's Jig  (32 J 3 tri)  Roger Bestwick

2 August 2011 - Brian Haeckler
   Larkin's Song  (32 J 3) Jo Hamilton
   Peat Fire Flame  (40 R 3)  John Drewry
   Craven Strathspey  (32 S 3)  Derek haynes
   Abbotswell Jig   (32 J 3)  I. Cowrie (Peterhead Q.)
   Broadway   (32 S 3 set)  Chris Ronald
   Airie Bennan  (32 J 5)   Hugh Foss
    St Columba's Strathspey  (32 S 5 set)  Sproule & Gillan

26 July 2011 - Brian Haeckler
   Domino Five  (32 R 5some)  Derek Haynes
   Untitled Jig  (32 J 3 set)  B. Haeckler
   The Gardener's Fantasia  (32 S 3 set)  46/2
   Figure it Out  (32 R 3 set)  R. Goldring
   Bauldy Bain's Fiddle  (32 R 3)  JB Dickson
   Uncle Bill's Jig  (32 J 2)  Roy Goldring
   Sauchie Haugh  (32 S 2)  Leaflets 12
   Flight of the Falcon  (32 J 3)  B. Priddey

19 July 2011 - Brian Haeckler
   Gloria's Wee Jig  (32 J 2)  B. McMurtry/Devil's Quandary
   Grimaldi 700  (88 R 4)  Roy Goldring
   The Pleasure is Mine  (32 S 2)  Roy Goldring
   The Pipe Opener  (32 J 5)  Roy Goldring
   Lass of Richmond Hill  (32 R 3) Fiona Turnbull
   The Missing Turn  (32 R 3)  46/5
   Barbara's Strathspey  (32 S 3)  46/4

12 July 2011
   Leslie Kearney - no report

5 July 2011
   Leslie Kearny - no report

Dancing on the Heights - 11July 2011

Another class with very small numbers:
I like all Terry Glasspool's foursomes. His "Four Paws" is a bit of a challenge with half reel of four meeting half variant Schiehallion Reel. All the other dances are straight forward and all  of them fun.

The dances were:
This One's Four Isobel  (32 S 4 dancers)  T. Glasspool
Four of Diamonds  (32 J 4 dancers)  T. Glasspool
Four Paws  (32 S 4 dancers)  T. Glasspool
Dust Devils  (32 J 4 dancers)  J. Lataille

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Haven Summer Social - 28 June 2011

An enjoyable evening was had by all and what a wonderful all it was. We had a 7 couples last night and I finally got to reintroduce Mary S. Brandon's Double Sixsome to the New Haven dancers. I last danced it sometime around 1979-1980 and I don't think it has been danced/taught in New Haven at anytime since then and that highlights the issue of numbers. 3 couples/4 couples make for nice easy teaching but 7 couples/8 couples makes for greater energy and oh the possibilities that now present themselves!

Bob Gregg retaught his dance, Ken McFarland's Reel, originally a reel, as a jig and that made all the difference. That slight difference in tempo meant there was more time for the dancers to 'get' there. By the second time through the dance came together and not only looked like a dance but the dancers were finally comfortable with what Bob was asking them to do. At the end there was a very positive response from the floor.

Last night's dances were:
The Elusive Muse - (32 J 3 set) - Tim Wilson
Double Sixsome - (64 R 6) - Mary Shoolbraid Brandon
Echoes of Strathglass - ( 32 S 3 set) - Malcolm Brown
Well Met in Paris - (32 H 3) - Terry Glasspool
Ken McFarland's Reel - (32 J 4) - Bob Gregg
The Docent's Tour - (32 S 3) - Tim Wilson
The Vale of Atholl - (32 J 3) - Evelyn Murray


The Elusive Muse or Easily Led:- I first taught this two weeks ago and it just gets better. Oh it is by no means Tim's best, but it is still a very pleasant and social dance. It is good enough that I am considering it for the opening slot on next years Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance. And yes, Virginia, I know it has 4 whole bars of pas de basque, a no-no for opening, so called warm up, dances, but they, the pdbs, are part of the last figure and I am not going to be looking at dancer's foot work in that particular situation.

Is it my imagination or is Set&Link for 3 becoming a popular figure? A personal favourite and, from the outside looking in, it is a visually stunning formation.

Double Sixsome:- I began dancing in 1976 and I remember dancing this soon thereafter. At the time it was a new dance, only 5 years old, and something of a rave dance at the time. That quickly passed because I don't believe it has been done in New Haven since. Last night may have been the second showing.

By current standards it is feels dated. It doesn't have the flow that we expect from a Drewry or Goldring dance, and there are interruptions as couples stand while others dance. I am not sure that 'dated' is really the right word to use. In traditional style is probably the more accurate description.

The response from the floor was better than luke warm but not excessively positive. I figure it should remain in the repertoire but not weekly or even monthly, perhaps once a season when the numbers allow, just for fun and as a break from the usual diet.

Echoes of Strathglass:- I give this one a Teacher's Choice award. I don't know that anyone else likes it as much as I do, but then, that's why I give out separate awards, one is mine and the other the dancer's.

It has showed up twice now as a nice, pleasant solid dance that uses a lovely figure devised by Terry Glasspool. My humble opinion - it is worth doing and it has a place in the repertoire along with all the standard RSCDS strathspeys.

Well Met in Paris:- Oh my! thank you Leslie Kearney for having the courage to teach this gem of a dance. I know that I held back because it read as difficult. You, however, saw that the reward was greater than the pain. So it went on the 2008 Kilts and Ghillies Ball, and is once again on the shortlist.

The swapover (dolphin) reels are fun and the entry into reels of 3 for 2nd C is just plain neat. Keeper.

Ken McFarland's Reel:- a nice piece of choreography. Still under construction but we worked out some issues - better as a jig than as a reel was the big one. Coming Real Soon Now.

The Docent's Tour:- Last night it received a Dancer's Choice Award, with applause. From the San Francisco Branch's publication Measures of Pleasure, which came to my attention by way of Leslie Kearney. She may have found the book first, but I found the dance!

The book is full of good dances, not just one or two - so, a Teacher's Choice Award for Measure's of Pleasure.

The Vale of Atholl:- Consensus from the floor, not a great dance but the music is. The music is by Mara Shea and Dave Wiesler on their CD Heather Hills. And the music is why I taught the dance which is not going on the short list.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Haven Summer Social - 21 June 2011

I seem to be a little behind. We dance tonight and I am just posting last weeks dances.

The evenings dances were:
MacFarlane's Geese  (32 R 4)  Jean Attwood
Carlaverock Castle  (32 R 3)  Peter Price (that's me!)
The Docent's Tour  (32 S 3)  Tim Wilson (Measures of Pleasure)
Dancin' Witches  (32 J 3)  Edwin Werner (Dragonflies)
Glen Nevis  (32 S 4)  Diane L. Dow (Pinewoods Coll)
Romance of the Waimarie  (40 J 4) Bevin Shaw - Oaks in Autumn


MacFarlane's Geese:- A nice retake on Wild Geese with a delightful last eight bars - I just love a stealth progression! But the dance just didn't have the spark that would have made it memorable. Please note, I did NOT say I would't teach the dance again, 'cause I will, but with different music. I used The Danelaw band set of 4x32 Reels based on Caddam Wood.  The virtual dancers in my head loved the combination but the dancers on the floor may not have.

Romance of the Waimarie:- The best I can say is "Eh".  I love Bevin's dance Those Russians - this one, compared to that one is a bust. Nice concept with the fwd and reverse paddle wheel and i liked the corners moving up with 1C into 3 hands across, but the 8 bar setting figure was a big why?  The overall, and unanimous response was "Don't bother?"

Carlaverock Castle:- It is a good thing to do, to sit on a dance for a couple of years, not teaching it, and then to revisit it. I know what I wanted when I wrote the dance, but sometimes I lose sight of it, and when I return to it I fall in love with it all over again, only this time it isn't as personal and there is a fuller appreciation of what I achieved in the dance.

Please - use Muriel Johnstone's recording of Lady Dumfries if you possibly can.

The Docent's Tour:- Oh my, this one has it, that ineffable something that puts this dance on my Top 50 list and on my short short list of dances for the 2012 Kilts & Ghillies Tea Dance - and it is so simple that surely someone else has written this dance before, haven't they? I am very glad that it was Tim Wilson though because I like almost everything of his that I have seen. This teacher's Choice Award.

Dancin' Witches:- Just another dance until you experience the transition between the reels of 3 across into the reel of 4 on the diagonal. That is a nice moment and makes this one a keeper. From the Bob McMurtry publication Dragonflies.

Glen Nevis:- I had hopes that this would be a keeper - it probably isn't. The figure that I call a Grand Figure Eight might work with  quite a bit more work but, frankly, it just isn't enough reward for the effort required. And I feel  like a traitor because I know and like Diane Dow - she used to dance in New Haven and was a favourite of mine. I wish her well where ever she may now be.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Haven Summer Social - 14 June 2011

Windsor held it's end of season party last night, and several of our regulars must have gone because we barely scrapped together a 3 couple set and there I was scrambling yet again. I couldn't do any of the 4C dances I had planned, got to try one of Monday's dances with different music and we all had a wonderful time and managed to work through 8 dances, some not so easy.

Tuesday's dances were:
The Four Winds  (32 R 4-some)  T. Glasspool
Gifts  (32 S 3 set) I. van Maarseveen
Crossing the Brook  (32 R 3 set)  R. Goldring
The Dean Bridge of Edinburgh  (32 S 3) 23/4
The Elusive Muse  (32 J 3 set)  Tim Wilson
Age of Aquarius  (32 S 3)  Tim Wilson
The Captain  (32 R 3)  R. King
The Flourish  (32 S 3) Tim Wilson


The Four Winds:-  From the pen of Terry Glasspool and thank goodness. All these new dances for groups with small numbers are a god send. And Terry's are among the most elegant and witty of the lot. This one is spare and simple but the 'side' dancer's need to change directions adds just enough spice that no one's going to sleepwalk through the dance . 

Gifts:- By Irene van Maarseveen, published in Pretoria Branch's book Many Happy Hours, I taught it on Monday to one set of tunes that worked but didn't really fit the dance. Last night I taught to a different set of tunes (for the dance Forget Me Knot) and it was just plain better. I still want a 3x through recording of the hymn which would be 'the bomb' (as I have heard tell). But as a good second choice Forget Me Knot works well. And I still like this simple dance - it is most definitely on the short short list for next year's ball.

Crossing the Brook:- by Goldring from his Social Dances 2002,  we had to modify it slightly to make it work for a 3C set. Good dance, but I am not willing to put it on my Top 50 list. It just doesn't have that little something that puts a dance over the top and makes it special. That could be my fault as I didn't choose the music wisely, and Muriel's recording for the dance might have been what was missing.

The Dean Bridge of Edinburgh-  From the pen of Alec Hay and I like it even though I am not sure what to make of the last eight bars. There is a curious disconnect between the dancers during the advance and retires and I am not sure how or even if I should get them to make eye contact. But NO HANDS! Handing in the last formation would make the dance very unpleasant.

The Elusive Muse:-  one of Tim Wilson's contributions to the San Francisco publication Measures of Pleasure.  And what a delightful contribution it is too. Once I finally figured out my note card was missing a bit of vital information - namely that the dance was for a 3C set - I finally picked some good music: Muriel Johnstone's set for Heid of the Bay from the Port-no-quay Collection. Another short listed dance working it's way up the list.

Age of Aquarius:- Another Tim Wilson dance (is there a theme developing here I hear you ask, ah...yep).
I like what I am seeing from this guy. A bit more difficult than most of his other dances this one is going to take a few coaching sessions to get just right. But I like what Tim is doing with Terry Glasspool's box setting. Pure genius to invent the figure, genius too to see other possibilities, in this case to see you could rotate the figure to the corners. 

The Captain:-  From San Francisco Branch's Solstice Party Book. Simple choreography, certainly not very original, but with the right jaunty maybe even pushy reel it garnered a Dancer's Choice Award. I used Dave Wiesler and Mara Shea's recording for Sleepwalking off their CD "Heather Hills". Recording: highly recommended. The book of dances: ditto.

The Flourish:-  As the last dance of the evening I was really pushing the envelope with this dance.  A lovely dance with lots of opportunities to embroider, but too much too late in the evening. I would dearly love to see this done at a party with kilts and gowns swirling.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dancing on the Heights - 14 June 2011

The usual suspects were there which left us one person shy of a full set. I am accumulating a substantial back log of four couple dances that need trials. The classes in New Haven are the only ones that continue through the summer and the sad fact is very few dancers from other classes choose to join us.

I have received another shipment from TACBooks: Measures of Pleasure (San Francisco); Many Happy Hours (Pretoria); Just Desserts (SW Washington/Vancouver); Oaks in Autumn (Bevin Shaw-NZ); Dunedin Dances Book 4 (which Dunedin I don't know); and, I am taking a long overdue look at the Pinewoods collections where I am finding some sleepers.

I bought Many Happy Hours because the related  thread on Strathspey had so many positive reviews. Oaks in Autumn I bought because it includes Those Russians which I taught to the Loch Leven Dancers (Naomi Lasher's NY  performance troupe, which they raved over) and I want to see whether or not he is a one dance wonder. I am willing to give any Tim Wilson dance a try - that's why Measures of Pleasure and Just Desserts.

The hard part is that many of the interesting dances I am finding require 4 couples and the classes over the summer are not likely to draw those numbers consistently leading to that aforementioned backlog.

Anyway  back to dancing,

Last night's dances were:
The Elusive Muse  (32 J 3 set)  Tim Wilson
Greyfriar's Bobby  (32 S 3 set)  B. Priddey
New Biggin  (48 J 3) Leaflet 33/1
Gifts  (32 S 3 set)  Maarseveen
Carlaverock Castle  (32 R 3)  P. Price
Maurice  (32 S 2)  G. Thomas

The Elusive Muse, or Easily Led:-  By Tim Wilson from Measures of Pleasures.  It is a sweet little dance! It landed on my short list for the next Kilts and Ghilllies's Ball the moment I danced it. Easy but interesting and nothing weird about it.

Greyfriars Bobby:-  Another wonderful dance by Barry Priddey. It requires constant attention. You can't relax your guard, especially not during the last figure where the dynamic changes each round depending on who is leads the chases. It also has a very interesting transition from reel of three on sides into Allemande. But ever so sweet a dance.  I have been using the Dave Wiesler-Mara Shea recording of strathspeys for the dance Forget Me Knot. (Wow! and yet again wow!).

I have taught this dance 3 times now and the response is unfailingly positive and it has received a Dancer's Choice Award. Obviously I have short listed it for the K&G 2012 Ball.

New Biggin:-  While I was a regular at Pinewoods dance camp, there was on open glade among the pines where a dance pavilion once stood - Named for an Englich Country Dance (one guess -...) - that's right New Biggin - it stands again having finally been rebuild a few year ago.

I haven't checked the ECD sources to compare interpretations but this is an old dance with slightly crank choreography. i.e. it doesn't have the smooth flow that we now expect in a dance. So some liked it and some didn't. A matter of taste.

 I have never liked the "usual" method of transitioning from a circle of three with couple x to a circle of three with couple y - in most cases the 'flip' has never felt right to me and I have seen few dancers handle it gracefully. So I tried something different last night - The prior LH turn lent itself to starting the first (LH) circle with 1st C (lady up, man down) in the center, back to back with partner. But I had the dancers end that circle in place on the side lines and start their RH circle (with the other couple) from the sides and that worked well. Especially for those in the class with 'new' knees.

It is a long dance, 1C centric in that 2nd and 3rd couples don't have a lot to do. For some boring, for others a relief, especially if the dance is programmed later in a program. Time to rest and socialize.

Gifts:-  From Many Happy Hours. This is a quiet gem! Since I know of, and certainly don't have, a SCD recording of the hymn simple Gifts I had to use a generic, sweet, 3 times through strathspey. Good, but not sufficient. The consensus is that the dance needs its proper tune, and would approach the sublime. I agree. This dance needs Simple Gifts, played three times as tune + variation(s). I wasn't expecting much having only read the dance but boy am I glad to be wrong. This dance is a gift. A keeper.

Carlaverock Castle:- 2006, while listening to cd music became inspired by the laid back nature of Muriel Johnstone's recording of Lady Dumfries. This dance (one of my better efforts) is the result. I will get it up on 8x32 Real Soon Now.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Haven Summer Social - 7 June 2011

What can I say? Four dancers showed tonight, all men. Which left me with very little choice in what I taught, Terry Glasspool, more Terry Glasspool, and yet more Terry Glasspool.

Tonights Dances were: -
Four of Diamonds  (32 J 4-some)  T. Glasspool
This One's Four Isobel  (32 S 4-some)  T. Glasspool
The Four Winds  (32 R 4-some)  T. Glasspool
The Four Poster  (32 S 4-some)  T. Glasspool
Maurice  (32 S 2)  G. Thomas


I have taught all of these dances before, I have commented on all of these dances before. There really isn't any need for me to say more except that tonight I had the easiest time ever teaching Maurice which was a very pleasant surprise. Kudos to Bob Gregg, Marque, George and Harold.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dancing on the Heights - 9 May 2011

Well the Kilts and Ghillies ball prep season is done and I can finally get back to trying out new and infrequently done dances in preparation of next years Kilts and Ghilllies Tea Dance. Summer seems to be the only time I get for this but summer always seems to go by too fast for what I want to try. During the dance season the cries for ball prep seem to get louder and louder as dancers get older and their memory falters. Oh well, it is what it is.

Last night's dances were:

The Haggis Tree  (32 S 2) Drewry
The Silver Nutmeg  (40 J 3) Price
Solway Reel  (48 R 4)  Carlisle & Border
The Dance Wizard  (32 R 4) W. Joubert - Many Happy Hours (Pretoria)
Echoes of Strathglass  (32 S 3 set)  M. Brown - Many Happy Hours
The Captain  (32 R 3)  R. King - Solstice Party (San Francisco)
A Winter's Walk  (32 J 3) P. Stephans - Between the Rivers


The Haggis Tree - On the 2009 Kilts and Ghillies' Ball it is time to consider repeating it. It is on my "Top 50" list and every time I dance it I remember why - it is a beautiful dance to a beautiful Scott Skinner air (Herr Horloff's Farewell). When the NY Times reviews a restaurant the ratings run from "Do Not Miss" to "Worth It" to, well, skip-able. On that scale this dance is a Do-Not-Miss (in my ever so humble opinion of course).
But I know I am a little on the strange side because I like formations like La Baratte and Tournee. When they are right they are so right.

The Silver Nutmeg - One of my dance compositions. I find it worthwhile to revisit a dance after a couple of years of "sitting on it" as the Quakers would say. Time gives you a new perspective, a lessening of personal attachment and a clear, less partisan, eye. An OK dance with some nice elements but not worth a slot on a ball program. I  wrote the dance to honor the 25th anniversary of the New Haven Branch, but inspiration came a little late and I missed the deadline by a month or so.

The Solway Reel - One of my favourite dances. When I ran across the dance I had no recording so I used Jimmy Blair's version of Lady Sophia Anne of Bute. I still prefer that set to any other I have heard. Colin Dewar's set is a disappointment.

The dancers liked it but there wasn't the enthusiasm that would warrant putting it on a ball program. Struck from the short list.

The Dance Wizard - Oh my. We have a winner! Thank you Wouter Joubert:  this is a great dance. Don't Miss It! Definitely on the short list for next year's ball. Receives both a Teacher's choice and a Dancer's Choice Award.  Can be found in the Pretoria Branch's publication Many Happy Hours.
See also Iain Boyd's dance The Red Baron from Katherine's Book where I found the "dogfight" figure eight.

Echoes of Strathglass - The key is when supporting couples step up and down. When synced with 1C the effects are striking and were mentioned by the dancers; note: I did not emphasize that aspect when I taught the dance, they found it out for themselves. It was also nice to see one of Terry Glasspool's figures being picked up and used by another dance devisor.

I don't have a recording of Wouter's music so I was forced to punt yet again. Luckily there is a wonderful 3x32 set by Dave Wiesler and Mara Shea on their CD Heather Hill. Another Don't Miss It. Several dancers made the point that the dance and that music worked well together.

The Captain - Granted that there are many similarities between this dance and Mrs Stewart's Jig. It works and is original enough to stand on it's own. But choose your music carefully. R. King calls for "any good reel" but not any reel will do. It needs a really good tune. I chose Mara Shea's and Dave Wiesler's set for "Sleepwalking" off their CD Heather Hills and got lucky. Oh my! That pairing earned the dance a Dancer's Choice Award, from two different classes, and definitely puts the dance on the short list for next year's tea dance.

A Winter's Walk - Another of my personal favourites, this one from "Between the Rivers" I have not yet found that special set of tunes that brings it alive and puts it over the top. Yet it is still a good dance, liked by most of the dancers and that is going to be enough to keep it on the short list. Mind you it has been on the short list for the last four years and has not yet made it onto the final program. Maybe this year?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wilton Class - 3 May 2011

Well, the ball is done and that means it is time to start developing a short list for next year's Tea Dance.
And that means new dances, experiments and not a few crash and burns, and I had one tonight.

The evening's dances were:
A City in Bloom  (32 J 3 set)  Irene van Maarseveen (Many Happy Hours)
Phyllis' Fancy  (32 S 2)  Barry Priddey (Sutton Coldfield Book)
Farquharson Fifty  (32 J 3 set)  Irene van Maarseveen
The Captain  (32 R 3)  R. King (SF - Solstice Party Book)
The Burn of Sorrow  (32 S 2)  Barry Priddey (Silver Rose book)


A City in Bloom:-  A disappointment with this class. We couldn't see our way around a awkward moment and make it feel right. I am definately going to do this again using different music as that might have been the real problem.

Phyllis' Fancy:- Received a DCA a few months back but still it doesn't stir my soul. I originally thought it would make a decent ball dance, it is simple enough, dancers like it, but it just doesn't lift me. Maybe a few  more trials will make a difference in my outlook.

Farquharson Fifty:-  It appears to be a pattern for teaching Promenade and not really a dance at all.

The Captain:-  The third time the charm?  I have taught this only twice before, in October of 2001 and November 2010. No strong response on any one's part until tonight when it caught fire. Music called for was 'any good reel" so I used Dave Wiesler & Mara Shea's recording of "Sleepwalking" off their CD "Heather Hills" which definately qualifies.

Class voted it a Dancers Choice Award on the basis of it's simple, but lovely, flow.

The Burn of Sorrow:- This one caused me problems. I don't deal well with simple dances that don't get danced well. Maybe it was mental burn out being the last dance of the evening after all. I still get thrown for a loop when experienced dancers can not handle Right Hands Across followed by loops, then LHA followed by subtly different loops. And after all the dances that I have taught that have the toubillon in them, for the dancers to have not clue one is mildly disturbing and raised my blood pressure. I did not do well. Sorry guys.
But it is a nice pleasant, mostly simple dance that enough dancers liked that they voted it a DCA and I will dance this again in a heartbeat.

Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance - 30 April 2011

A hit, a palpable hit.

Thank you to all who helped make it happen. And thank you to all who came and had a good time.

We had a really good band (Thistle Hill - Jim Stevenson-Mathews, Rebecca McCallum and Lisa Gutkin) playing superb music; we had a good program; and I think I can say we all had a really good time. We fluctuated between three and four sets on the floor for the entire afternoon and for the last dance there were still three sets on the floor, one of them with five couples. YES!

Personally I think the first half was the best first half I have ever experienced. I had a huge grin on for most of the ball. When I didn't it was because I was briefing, didn't have a partner, and wasn't dancing.

Hooper's Jig turned out to be a better opener than I expected. Burn of Sorrow went onto my "Top 50 Strathspeys" list and Jim Stevenson-Mathews used Calum's Road, one of my favourite tunes, as the name tune. What a delightful surprise that was!

 Auchindrain was also a delight. After hearing the midi file on Nigel Gatherer's web site I was so taken with the tune I just had to write a dance for it. The band really liked the tune too, but commented it was a very difficult tune to play. They certainly practiced it a lot I must say.

Mrs Stewart's Jig, Da Rain Dancin', and Monymusk are all good, solid, pleasant dances that have earned a spot in the standard repertoire and on my "Top 50" lists. The Cashmere Shawl is on my 'top' list but deserves wider acceptance - My humble opinion is that it belongs in the standard repertoire. It is certainly good enough, it is also easy enough, and it is just different enough to be crisply refreshing.

The Fireside Reel, with that music (Peat Fire Flame), is a winner and that 'knockout' moment for 1st and 2nd ladies is a magic moment when it works. And did I mention the music?

The second half didn't fly quite as high. It had too many esoteric dances grouped together. Don't get me wrong - esoteric isn't bad. The dances are all wonderful dances, some are my very favourites in fact. But they needed leavening, and having Quarrie's Jig and The Piper and the Penguin at the front end and Scottish Reform and Mairi's Wedding at the back end wasn't effective leavening. One or more of them should have been spread among the core of the half. And that is why the first half was the better one.

Gypsy Dreams is simply one of the most beautiful dances I have ever seen or danced. The box setting is a superb innovation and the flow of the dance approaches the sublime. It is so good that I have moved beyond mere toleration into admiration and actual liking of the Tournee.

Knights' Heys is a unanimous Dancers Choice selection. It was heartily cheered and then encored. After Linnea's Strathspey most of us were wearing broad smiles. Gordon of Straloch succeeded nicely. It fit it's music and the music was so beautiful it nearly brought the hall to silence.

The highlight of the Ball though, for me, were the youngsters. Paul and Clarissa McRanor brought several youngsters and both Katie and Margaret (11 and 9 respectively) from my class came. Margaret came up to me after with a huge grin on her face and proudly announced she had done four dances. It was the grin that said it all. It was all the grins from all the youngsters that I will treasure.

For me though the Tea Dance was only a qualified success because the one thing we didn't have was a full house.  Financially we were slightly in the red. I don't have the numbers yet (so no exactitudes) but I believe we had a loss but that the loss was under $200.

So what went wrong, why so few dancers wanting to come and share our ball? 

Actually I don't think anything went wrong. Oh there were a lot of people with conflicts. Too many events happen in April. Easter (usually), The Rerr Terr ball in NJ, NEFFA festival in Mass., weddings, you name it. 
All contributed to a drop in numbers as does the aging of our dance population with its issues of memory loss, dementia and declining physical abilities. 

All the above are contributing factors, but the major reason is, I think, philosophical. We can break the population into three groups: those who look at a program to see how many they know and those who look to see how many they don't know. Too many unknown dances and the former won't go. Too many known dances and the latter won't go. 

I belong in the latter group. I like new dances. Rather I like finding new beautiful dances with beautiful music and I like sharing them and a ball is a wonderful way to do that. The difficulty, I think, is when new for new's sake begins to drive the teachers. Which isn't quite what I want to say -- I love looking for new dances that are joys to dance. These dances should get exposure and a chance to become part of the repertoire. Finding new dances and simply moving on to other new dances serves no purpose. Finding new dances that are worth doing again, many times, and then doing them again, many times, does serve a purpose. It allows the dance to evolve, to stay fresh. And then we can go back to the 'standards', and they too are fresh, all over again. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Waterbury Class - 15 April 2011

The Waterbury Class is a joy. We had 6 couples tonight and that makes the teaching and dynamics easier and pleasanter.

Tonight's dances were, again, all from the upcoming Tea Dance program and were:
Quarrie's Jig  (32 J 3)  36/3
Gypsy Dreams  (32 S 2)  T. Glasspool
The Piper and the Penguin  (88 R 4 square)  R. Goldring
Da Rain Dancin'  (32 R 3)  R. Wallace


Quarrie's Jig:-  Another modern dance from the Society that is just delightful and, deservidly, becoming part of the standard repertoire.

Gypsy Dreams:- One of the most beautiful dances I have ever seen. And worth learning the tournee for. And if you can make the tournee beautiful the dance tips over into the sublime.

The Piper and the Penguin:- Another 88 bar reel from Roy Goldring. He has several of these and overall deserves being Canonized. Why ? Because it means I never ever again have to put The Round Reel of Eight on another program.

And then there is this - the dance and it's music are fun!

Da Rain Dancin':- Good music, good dance, good time!  I learned this dance from Ron Wallace one summer at Pinewoods (dance camp in Plymouth, Mass.). One point that he made then is not explicitly made in the written directions.
In the set to corner, turn partner figure: the first pas de basque is in place to 1st corner, the second pas de basque is a move to the left, turning slightly, not to face partner, but to have right shoulders facing partner ready for the right hand turn to face second corners.
  Again, when setting to second corners, the 'goodbye' portion is a small move that leaves the dancers with shoulders pointing toward one another and setting up the RH turn.

It changes the character of the dance.

Waterbury Class - 8 April 2011

Another installation in the continuing saga of ball prep.
Tonight it is Waterbury and the dances were:

Mrs Stewart's Jig  (32 J 3)  35/1
Knights' Heys  (32 H 3)  T. Glasspool
Gordon of Straloch  (32 S 3)  Peter Price
Miss Muriel Johnstone's Jig  (32 J 3) Dale Birdsall


Mrs Stewart's Jig:-  One of your everyday good enough jigs that a foundation stone of the dance.

Knights' Heys:-  One of my favourite dances, recipient of a "Dancer's Choice Award"  and every time I teach it I get positive responses from many of the dancers. Certainly deserving of a place on anyone's Top 50 list, and, in my humble opinion, deserving to be recognized more widely and incorporated into the standard repertoire.

Gordon of Straloch:- Yes I did write this dance. And the more I teach it the higher it rises in my estimation. I give most of the credit to Liz Donaldson for her arrangement that I could not resist and was so inspired by.

Miss Muriel Johnstone's Jig:-  Oh my oh my. this one is far more confusing than I anticipated. The second teaching didn't go much better than the first. Ralph Page, the late celebrated caller of New England contra Dancers, had a category of dances that he called "little stinkers" because they played with experienced dancer's minds. This dance deserves the same sobriquet.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Waterbury Class - 1 April 2011

Thank you Barbara Austen for teaching these many weeks and taking care of the class when I could not.

Class relocated from Woodbridge and now getting enough dancers on a regular basis. Hooray!

I tried a new teaching method tonight and several dancers responded well to it. The method is a bit slower than is my wont, but I can bear that if I don't have to keep making teaching points and if they actually need less walking through.

I walked the first 8 bars - had 1C walk and then dance it - and to the bottom.
Second couple then danced the first 8 bars, I then taught them the 2nd 8 bars and had them dance that and to the bottom. Third couple then dances the first 16 bars, gets taught the 3rd figure and dance it - and to the bottom. Then fourth couple dances the first 24 bars, gets taught the last figure, dances it.
Next couple (original 1st usually) now gets the whole dance, and if it goes well I let the music run 8x through.

It worked well enough that I'm going to refine it and use it but maybe not ALL the time.

Tonight's dances were:
Bonny Blue Bride  (32 J 3) Tod McCall - Wee Hoose on the Prairie
Linnea's Strathspey  (32 S 3) Tim Wilson -Dunsmuir
Fireside Reel  (32 R 3) 18C
Hooper's Jig  (32 J 3)  Misc 2


Bonny Blue Bride:- A nice simple baby jig that I pulled out of my wee card file 'cause I wasn't prepared and it looked easy enough and busy enough to make for a good warm up dance. I was right. And I was surprised that the dance wasn't a throw away either. It is just different enough to be worth keeping available. But no nominations for a Dancer's Choice Award.

Linnea's Strathspey:- Dancer's (and Teacher's) Choice Awards for this one! Keeper and then some. As far as I am concerned this one is and always shall be part of my standard repertoire.

My one wish is that there was a recording for this dance.

Fireside Reel:- Love the dance and hate the huffing and puffing when I'm done. I love an old vinyl recording but I can't adjust the tempo and it is a wee bit on the fast side but boy is the pianist (Jim Nicholson) having a whole lot of fun.

Hooper's Jig:- this was a 'let's have fun' last dance of the evening. Had some breakdowns here. Timing, it is all about timing, especially this dance. And remembering left from right. And using all the music you're given...

Wilton Class - 29 March 2011

It was a one set night, the young girls were not present and I got to work on three of the dance on the  Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program.

I was surprised by how slow the learning, and it wasn't as if they had never seen them before... so I just went and checked and the only dance they had seen before was Gordon of Straloch. So I shouldn't be surprised. the two new dances are mind benders and take some work.

The three dances were:-
Miss Muriel Johnstone's Jig  (32 J 3)  G. Dale Birdsall
Lang May Your Lum Reek  (32 J 2)  Barry Priddey
Gordon of Straloch  (32 S 3)  Peter Price


Miss Muriel Johnstone's Jig:-  I read it, liked it, thought it would be a decent, middle of the road dance and not difficult. Boy was I wrong. Well it really isn't difficult, just very disorienting at the start of the second half reels of three. Nobody (except first couple) knows which way to face to start the reels. Because nobody (except the first couple) is where they expect so it is new position and new direction. I think I smoke checked most of the brains in the room.

Lang May Your Lum Reek:-  I really like this dance but the setting figure (hello-goodbye - but never to partner and always with corner) needs to be dead on and dancers must MOVE and with control.
I fell in love with the progression because it is what I call a 'stealth' progression. When your done you wonder how you got there. Simply and elegantly. This one is a keeper if you get the third figure.

Gordon of Straloch:- I don't usually toot my own horn but the more I teach this dance the better I like it. And I wrote it. But I don't think the dance itself is superb but the music IS (arranged by Liz Donaldson and recorded by her band Waverley Station on their CD First Stop (set of strathspey airs 8x32)). The music, especially the third and fourth tunes ( rorate coeli and I long for they virginitie), is magnificent. So much so that every time I have taught this dance the room goes quiet, very quiet, and the dancers seem to lose themselves in the music as I do.

That Cd is a must buy! And the dance fits it and is worth downloading.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wilton Class - 22 March 2011

The girls were not present so the opportunity was there to get a start on the dances on the Tea Dance. It was an interesting evening because I was teaching dances that we had done before and the class was having a difficult time with them.

The evenings dances were:-
Admiral Beaufort  (32 J 3) set mixer
Auchindrain  (32 R 3) web leaflet
The Burn of Sorrow  (32 S 2)  B. Priddey
Gypsy Dreams  (32 S 2) T. Glasspool


Admiral Beaufort:-  The first 24 bars are borrowed from Iain Boyd's dance The Calm before the Storm.  The last eight bars are a variant of the set and link used by Jane Lataille in her dance Dragonflies.

Auchindrain:- A straight forward dance with nothing, absolutely nothing tricky about it.

The Burn of Sorrow:-  when I drew my 'pilling' and wrote the crib I had an oops. I misread the directions. What I read was 1C dance a 2 bar RH turn once round and a two bar loop around partner - what Barry wrote was a Rh turn going on for 1 step and then a three bar loop around partner. The crib will be corrected Real Soon Now.

What I don't get, however, is how hard everyone seems to find the Tourbillon. It is not rocket science.
Both couples turn with two hands in two bars. First man turns three quarters ending in second woman's place while first woman turns once round and finishes back in her own place. This means they can not hold hands for the whole of the two bars. If  first coupledrop appropriate hands (man's left/woman's right) you can 'unwind the turn to end in correct places. Second couple similarly - second woman turns three quarters, second man once round ending second woman in first man's place after dropping the appropriate hands.

I have had this rant before and it is getting old. But the figure is very pretty and I find it very enjoyable and more than worth the effort.

Gypsy Dreams:- 24 bars of pure delight leading into 8 bars of absolute terror - the dread Tournee.
What a bunch of horse pucky. the Tournee has one moment where you need to think, or not if you have really learned it. And it too is a beautiful figure but it does take a lot of work to perfect. Unfortunately too many dancers don't care to perfect. Sigh.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wilton Class - 15 March 2011

Katie and Margaret (the girls) were back but with the Tea Dance coming soon I no longer have the luxury of dumbing down the evening program. I taught only two dances. They were:-

Hooper's Jig  (32 J 3) MMM 2
Reekie Linn  (32 J 2) J. Attwood


Hooper's Jig -  A quintessential "timing" dance and that throws just about everyone off their center. 
The hardest thing:- getting hands across and not hands in a clump.
The 2nd hardest:- getting first and third couples to dance continuously during the diagonal crossing (loops!)
The 3rd hardest:- bars 23-24 - getting 3C to step up and first lady to cross LEFT hand into 2nd lady's place.
The 4th hardest:- getting 1st man to end the RH Across all the way round into 2nd place ladies' side.

It is a relatively simple dance and that is why any sloppy dancing stands out.
I really like this dance but I rarely teach it or dance it because it is so universally appallingly danced. Tonight I actually saw progress in almost all phases of the dance. Thanks be to God.

14 March 2011 - Dancing on the Heights

A lovely evening with a full set of dancers I taught a few new dances and a few that are on the Kilts and Ghillies April 30th Tea Dance.

The evenings dances were:
Reekie Linn  (32 J 2) Jean Attwood
The Missing Turn  (32 R 3) C. Williams - Bk 46/5
Barbara's Strathspey  (32 S 3) McKinnell - Bk 46/4
Lang May Your Lum Reek  (32 J 2) B. Priddey
Deborah Hope Leary  (32 S 2) P. Price
Knights' Heys  (32 H 3) T. Glasspool
The Cashmere Shawl  (32 S 3) I. Boyd


Reekie Linn - A lovely flow in fractions! Oh yum!  My favourite!

Standard beginning followed by a standard reel of three. Then it gets interesting, especially the last figure which is three quarters of a double figure eight (in six bars) and set. I personally don't see the problem but just about every round of the dance someone got bitten.

The Missing Turn - A nice enough dance that is worth doing again but not good enough for a DCA.

Barbara's Strathspey - Super dance that gets a Teachers Choice Award! The double Birl, and the dance itself, are simply beautiful and a little bit of effort brings huge rewards. Every time I have danced or watched I have ended with a smile on my face. Gold Star!

Lang May your Lum Reek - On the upcoming Tea Dance program. I have talked about it before (see those earlier posts). In the third figure (which bears a resemblance to Hello-Goodbye Setting), the line of four rotates and the dancers who are setting to one another also rotate around each other. The difficulty is keeping the shape, and Deborah's reminder (that dancers coming into the center should make eye contact) made a real difference. Thank you Deb. And that is a nice segue into...

Deborah Hope Leary - I wrote this last month and inscribed it to Deb in honor of our first year anniversary.
Pretty good dance, the last half worked out well but I'd have like a better first sixteen bars. I will get it up on Eight by Thirty-two Real Soon Now.

Knights' Heys - The first few times I taught this dance the response was definitely underwhelming. Even after I put it on the K&G ball the response was tepid. The next year it was on the New Haven Highland Ball and now it is a recipient of a Dancers Choice Award. ???

The first time I saw it I knew this was a super dance and it immediately went on my top 50 list.

The Cashmere Shawl - Lovely dance and just different enough to make you think.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wilton class - 8 March 2011

A good night... and these days anytime we have a full set is a good night - even when I have to step in and fill out the set.

The New Haven Highland Ball is done - videos are showing up on YouTube and I had a wonderful time.
Next up - the Rerr Terr in NJ (1st weekend in April) and then our own Kilts and Ghillies Tea dance on the last weekend in April.

Last nights dances were:

Sage and Salsa  ((16S+16R) M 3)  Jane Lataillle
Hooper's Jig  (32 J 3)  Misc 2
Gypsy Dreams  (32 S 2) T. Glasspool

Auchindrain  (32 R 3)  Peter Price
The Cashmere Shawl  (32 S 3) I. Boyd


Sage and Salsa - a good warm up. discussed in earlier posts. Recipient of a Dancer's Choice Award.

Hooper's Jig - I have always liked this dance but almost never teach it, or dance it, as it is so often so poorly danced that I just can't stand it.

First peeve - the hands across - I hate those 'clumps' of hands. Oh, I'm sorry. I'm being rather negative. Let me say that in a more positive why. I positively hate those 'clumps' of hands.. They are ugly and they ignore the essential nature of the formation:-  Hands Across consists of two four bar turns: 1M and 2L dance a four bar turn. At the same time 1L and 2M are dancing a four bar turn. As a general, repeat general, rule 1M takes hands with 2L underneath the hands of 1L and 2M so 1M can use his thumb to locate and lock together the 'hub' of the wheel.

Second peeve - The loops that are part of the diagonal crossings. Nobody seems to understand the concept of  'continuous'. I see many dancers crossing and stopping. They wait for 2 bars before crossing back when they should still be dancing - 1st and 3rd couples have 6 bars of continuous dancing - i.e. NO Stopping. When they aren't crossing they should still be dancing - looping around to face back ready to cross back. Unfortunately this doesn't happen very often.

Third peeve - 2nd couple stepping up on bars 23-24 (end of the crossing figure).This is the critical moment of the dance. Sorry, but it is! If 2L doesn't step up in time she leaves nowhere for 1st woman to go except the wrong place at which point the dance breaks down. This is usually not fatal... Thank God for small favours.

The good news - I saw major progress in Wilton, especially with the handing in Hands Across. Yaaaa!

Gypsy Dreams - Yumm! See my previous posts. One of my top 10.

Auchindrain - You can find the dance on the web site Eight by Thirty-two. You can find the tune on Nigel Gatherer's web site. I rather like this dance. I am also prejudiced - I 'wrote' it. I did not give it an Dancer's Choice Award though. That was given by the dancers in several of my classes.

The Cashmere Shawl - A sweet dance, laid back and easy going. Just beware - don't lulled asleep or you'll get bit by the last figure.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wilton class - 1 March 2011

It is nice to be back. I had to cancel last weeks class when my elderly mother went into the hospital with circulation problems in her left leg, which led to vascular surgery on Friday. While waiting I wrote 2 dances and last night I had a chance to dance the strathspey and tweak it into final shape.

It is also the last class before the New Haven Highland Ball and there were quiet screams of near panic from the class as they felt they were totally unprepared - which is partly true. Due to weather there were NO classes held in January and only three this month.

Tonight's dances were:-
Deborah Hope Leary  (32 S 2)  Peter Price
St Andrew's of Brampton  (32 R 4)
Trip to Fanwood  (32 J 3)  C. Ronald
Dark Lochnagar  (32 S 2)  I. Boyd - SDA


Deborah Hope Leary - I wrote a jig, was reviewing it when my computer started playing a strathspey and the jig began to morph. This is the result after real dancers got hold of it.

1-8    1C 2C set, adv for 1, retire for 1; dance RHAcross half round (face prtnr in the center), and, pulling right shoulders back, cast out to side lines.

9-16   2C 1C dance back to back with ptnr; RHAcross half round and cast from the center to places.

17-24  1C 2C set and cross link (end beside ptnr, 1C facing up 2C down); 2C 1C set and link to side lines (face clock wise)

25-28     2C 1C chase half round and end, center of the dance, in line, facing ptner (1M 1L 2M 2L)

29-30     1C 2C set to partner (strong left step to pass partner and ...

31-32     1C 2C dance RHAcross half round to progressed places.

St Andrew's of Brampton:-  Very wordy directions, even wordier (14 lines) ball booklet crib and panic all around. Needlessly. The best crib I have seen for this dance is only 5 lines long for a 4 figure dance. And the only tricky part is the final turn out of the double wheel. For 1M and 4L it is RH, for 1L and 4M it is LH. Why? so 1C is in the middle facing up and 4C is in the middle facing down both couples having had easy entries in through the sidelines.

Trip to Fanwood:-  A sweet little dance especially if you treat the from the half reel into the turns flexibly - take hands when convenient and turn far enough to reach proper positions.

Dark Lochnagar:- It's the music! The dance is along for the ride.

Loch Leven Dancers - 28 February 2011

I had a guest stint on Sunday teaching Those Russians to the Loch Leven Dancers.

They watched the YouTube video of the Dunedin Summer School performance and were absolutely psyched. It is a real joy to have a group still willing to try something new and different. 

I spent about a week working out the choreography from the video, and in the end I got it right: the dance ended when the music did, and the dancers were flying high, as was I.

Bottom line: a whole lotta fun - they are now looking for places/venues to perform the dance. And I am looking forward to teaching it again, and again, and ...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wilton class - 8 February 2011

What a winter it has been. Storms on Tuesdays one after another every week since Christmas. Finally, our first class of the New Year.

The girls were back (hooray!).

With just enough for a set, tonight's dances were:

Collie Law  (32 J 2)  R. Goldring - 24 Graded & Social
Off to Speyside  (32 R 2)  R. Goldring - 24 Graded & Social
Kendall's Hornpipe  (32 J 2)  Gr. 22
The March Hare  (32 R 3)    I. Boyd - Happy to Meet
The Dunsmuir Strathspey  (32 S 3 set)  J. Drewry


Collie Law:-  Good basic dance on many levels.

Off to Speyside:-  Another good dance. I am finding that the single most important rule in teaching children is KEEP THEM MOVING. No long drawn out teaching of formations or footwork.

Kendall's Hornpipe:- Ladies Chain is not an easy figure. The ladies don't have a simple track, there is a lot of 'tweaking' needed. Basic figure, but not easy. Great music (I used the recording by The Music Makars). In my opinion the best I have heard.

The March Hare:-  Again basic elements that let me keep them moving but also gives me the opportunity to incrementally improve their pas de basque - tonight I stressed the 3 beats and they did!

The Dunsmuir Strathspey:- I try to keep everyone on the floor, even the beginners and the girls, but tonight I wanted to up the ante for the experienced dancers which is why I programed this dance. Petronella in Tandem was not known by all so that is the teaching I needed to do. It also impressed the girls and that is not a bad thing. Keeps them thinking about where they can go.


In other news:
I have a new favourite cd - Heather Hills by Dave Wiesler and Mara Shea.  4 Stars. The strathspey sets (Forget Me Knot, Simon Brodie and Invercauld's) are superb as is the set of jigs for The Vale of Atholl. All the other sets are solid. Highly recommended.

I am really impressed by Those Russians. I have taken the choreography from the video and written it up. I don't know when, or to whom I will teach the dance but I am ready!

The dance is not a social dance by any stretch of the imagination. 272 bars is a lot of dance so remembering parts and sequence may be the biggest issue with the dance. There are no outlandish elements here so that is not an issue. Overall the music has a strong beat (yay) and is not that easy to dance to (rats). There is no chord, but a 4 beat intro, and then there are a few 10 bar phrases (the choruses) that will throw some for a loop and send them on a side trip to Paris. The sung parts are easier to dance to than the musical interludes where the syncopation disguises the beat.

Overall I think this dance is a good performance vehicle and could make a great workshop dance where, at the end of the session the dancers can sigh in relief and know that they have faced and overcome a real challenge.

Here is the YouTube link to "Those Russians":-

Dancing on the Heights - 10 January 2011

First class of the New Year - and a good one 'cause a "Dancers Choice Award was given out.

The dances were:
The Haggis Tree  (32 S 2)  Drewry
Admiral Beaufort  (32 J 3 set-mixer)  Price/Boyd
The Dunsmuir Strathpey  (32 S 3 set)  Drewry
Lapton Reel  (32 R 2)  Priddey - SDA #69
The Quaker's Daughter  (32 S 3 set)  Goldring
Reekie Linn   (32 J 2)  Jean Attwood


The Haggis Tree - This is, as I have said before, one gorgeous dance. What a shame so few people are willing to work on "La Baratte" because the payback, at least for this dancer and his favourite partner, is immeasurably greater than the effort. I call it a One for oner - every time I dance La Baratte I get paid back in full for the one time effort spent learning the formation. A past winner of a Dancer's Choice Award, this dance is on its way to becoming a regular on the KandG ball program - not every year but once every other or every third year and, yes, it really is that good, which makes me wonder why it has been missed by so many generations of teachers all around the world. Back to La Baratte?

Admiral Beaufort: - I don't know if I can truly claim authorship of this dance. I took Ian Boyd's dance The Calm Before the Storm, and dropped the last eight bars, not wanting to teach  "set and rotate" to two new dancers their very first night,and replace it with simple turns or something equally silly. I later replaced that figure with a set and link for three dancers in line - that is, in a line of three the left hand dancer dances through the middle to the other end of the line, and the middle and right hand dancers individually cast one place. So if the starting order is 1C 2C 3C we get a new order of 2M 3M 1M and for the ladies 3L 1L 2L. Dance it again and the order  becomes 3M 1M 2M / 2L 3L 1L. New Partners all around!

The Dunsmuir Strathspey:-  A leaflet by John Drewry, it is another dance that, in my humble opinion, really should be more popular than it is. Granted, it isn't one of his latest and greatest works, but it is an approachable dance with a low learning threshold (petronella in tandem is it) and enjoyable enough to have earned it a DCA on its first 'trial' in August and again this month.

Personally I just love the double lead-through progression which I first saw it in JD's dance Seagreen. I found myself 1st man in third place wondering how I had gotten there and that was a treat to savour as I am not often surprised.

Lapton Reel:- What attracted me to this dance were the interactions. What I questioned was the stop and go nature of the dance. The dancers in Wilton had some trouble seeing the structure but the dancers On the Heights didn't and gave it a DCA on first time trial. It is not a fugue but it has that flavour. The dance is made up of simple, basic everyday elements that everybody should know but the execution is not easy.

The Quaker's Daughter:-  No DCA for this one. It is a nice dance to do on occasion but not special enough to do regularly. Wilton liked the first 24 bars but thought the final circle was a mere tack on. I think the assessment would be 'pleasant'.

Reekie Linn:- I liked the dance enough to program it on the 2004 K&G Ball. However the consensus by the dancers is - No Award. I think the differance of opinion lies in the fact that I like fractional turns and figs of 8 and other people seem not to.  Oh well!