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 ...