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Sharlene Penman (piano), visiting from New Zealand, is the band leader for the 2019 Tea Dance.
Our fiddlers are Sarah Stefanski and Jenny Evans, both local artists.

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

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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.

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