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.