Monday, April 18, 2011

Waterbury Class - 15 April 2011

The Waterbury Class is a joy. We had 6 couples tonight and that makes the teaching and dynamics easier and pleasanter.

Tonight's dances were, again, all from the upcoming Tea Dance program and were:
Quarrie's Jig  (32 J 3)  36/3
Gypsy Dreams  (32 S 2)  T. Glasspool
The Piper and the Penguin  (88 R 4 square)  R. Goldring
Da Rain Dancin'  (32 R 3)  R. Wallace


Quarrie's Jig:-  Another modern dance from the Society that is just delightful and, deservidly, becoming part of the standard repertoire.

Gypsy Dreams:- One of the most beautiful dances I have ever seen. And worth learning the tournee for. And if you can make the tournee beautiful the dance tips over into the sublime.

The Piper and the Penguin:- Another 88 bar reel from Roy Goldring. He has several of these and overall deserves being Canonized. Why ? Because it means I never ever again have to put The Round Reel of Eight on another program.

And then there is this - the dance and it's music are fun!

Da Rain Dancin':- Good music, good dance, good time!  I learned this dance from Ron Wallace one summer at Pinewoods (dance camp in Plymouth, Mass.). One point that he made then is not explicitly made in the written directions.
In the set to corner, turn partner figure: the first pas de basque is in place to 1st corner, the second pas de basque is a move to the left, turning slightly, not to face partner, but to have right shoulders facing partner ready for the right hand turn to face second corners.
  Again, when setting to second corners, the 'goodbye' portion is a small move that leaves the dancers with shoulders pointing toward one another and setting up the RH turn.

It changes the character of the dance.

Waterbury Class - 8 April 2011

Another installation in the continuing saga of ball prep.
Tonight it is Waterbury and the dances were:

Mrs Stewart's Jig  (32 J 3)  35/1
Knights' Heys  (32 H 3)  T. Glasspool
Gordon of Straloch  (32 S 3)  Peter Price
Miss Muriel Johnstone's Jig  (32 J 3) Dale Birdsall


Mrs Stewart's Jig:-  One of your everyday good enough jigs that a foundation stone of the dance.

Knights' Heys:-  One of my favourite dances, recipient of a "Dancer's Choice Award"  and every time I teach it I get positive responses from many of the dancers. Certainly deserving of a place on anyone's Top 50 list, and, in my humble opinion, deserving to be recognized more widely and incorporated into the standard repertoire.

Gordon of Straloch:- Yes I did write this dance. And the more I teach it the higher it rises in my estimation. I give most of the credit to Liz Donaldson for her arrangement that I could not resist and was so inspired by.

Miss Muriel Johnstone's Jig:-  Oh my oh my. this one is far more confusing than I anticipated. The second teaching didn't go much better than the first. Ralph Page, the late celebrated caller of New England contra Dancers, had a category of dances that he called "little stinkers" because they played with experienced dancer's minds. This dance deserves the same sobriquet.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Waterbury Class - 1 April 2011

Thank you Barbara Austen for teaching these many weeks and taking care of the class when I could not.

Class relocated from Woodbridge and now getting enough dancers on a regular basis. Hooray!

I tried a new teaching method tonight and several dancers responded well to it. The method is a bit slower than is my wont, but I can bear that if I don't have to keep making teaching points and if they actually need less walking through.

I walked the first 8 bars - had 1C walk and then dance it - and to the bottom.
Second couple then danced the first 8 bars, I then taught them the 2nd 8 bars and had them dance that and to the bottom. Third couple then dances the first 16 bars, gets taught the 3rd figure and dance it - and to the bottom. Then fourth couple dances the first 24 bars, gets taught the last figure, dances it.
Next couple (original 1st usually) now gets the whole dance, and if it goes well I let the music run 8x through.

It worked well enough that I'm going to refine it and use it but maybe not ALL the time.

Tonight's dances were:
Bonny Blue Bride  (32 J 3) Tod McCall - Wee Hoose on the Prairie
Linnea's Strathspey  (32 S 3) Tim Wilson -Dunsmuir
Fireside Reel  (32 R 3) 18C
Hooper's Jig  (32 J 3)  Misc 2


Bonny Blue Bride:- A nice simple baby jig that I pulled out of my wee card file 'cause I wasn't prepared and it looked easy enough and busy enough to make for a good warm up dance. I was right. And I was surprised that the dance wasn't a throw away either. It is just different enough to be worth keeping available. But no nominations for a Dancer's Choice Award.

Linnea's Strathspey:- Dancer's (and Teacher's) Choice Awards for this one! Keeper and then some. As far as I am concerned this one is and always shall be part of my standard repertoire.

My one wish is that there was a recording for this dance.

Fireside Reel:- Love the dance and hate the huffing and puffing when I'm done. I love an old vinyl recording but I can't adjust the tempo and it is a wee bit on the fast side but boy is the pianist (Jim Nicholson) having a whole lot of fun.

Hooper's Jig:- this was a 'let's have fun' last dance of the evening. Had some breakdowns here. Timing, it is all about timing, especially this dance. And remembering left from right. And using all the music you're given...

Wilton Class - 29 March 2011

It was a one set night, the young girls were not present and I got to work on three of the dance on the  Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program.

I was surprised by how slow the learning, and it wasn't as if they had never seen them before... so I just went and checked and the only dance they had seen before was Gordon of Straloch. So I shouldn't be surprised. the two new dances are mind benders and take some work.

The three dances were:-
Miss Muriel Johnstone's Jig  (32 J 3)  G. Dale Birdsall
Lang May Your Lum Reek  (32 J 2)  Barry Priddey
Gordon of Straloch  (32 S 3)  Peter Price


Miss Muriel Johnstone's Jig:-  I read it, liked it, thought it would be a decent, middle of the road dance and not difficult. Boy was I wrong. Well it really isn't difficult, just very disorienting at the start of the second half reels of three. Nobody (except first couple) knows which way to face to start the reels. Because nobody (except the first couple) is where they expect so it is new position and new direction. I think I smoke checked most of the brains in the room.

Lang May Your Lum Reek:-  I really like this dance but the setting figure (hello-goodbye - but never to partner and always with corner) needs to be dead on and dancers must MOVE and with control.
I fell in love with the progression because it is what I call a 'stealth' progression. When your done you wonder how you got there. Simply and elegantly. This one is a keeper if you get the third figure.

Gordon of Straloch:- I don't usually toot my own horn but the more I teach this dance the better I like it. And I wrote it. But I don't think the dance itself is superb but the music IS (arranged by Liz Donaldson and recorded by her band Waverley Station on their CD First Stop (set of strathspey airs 8x32)). The music, especially the third and fourth tunes ( rorate coeli and I long for they virginitie), is magnificent. So much so that every time I have taught this dance the room goes quiet, very quiet, and the dancers seem to lose themselves in the music as I do.

That Cd is a must buy! And the dance fits it and is worth downloading.