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Sharlene Penman (piano), visiting from New Zealand, is the band leader for the 2019 Tea Dance.
Our fiddlers are Jenny Evans and Amy Beshara.

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.

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