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!