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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.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Westchester - 11 January 2012

Another good turn out with three full sets and a few extras and a good bit of ground got covered too. The Westchester Burns Night Party and their End-of-Session Party coincide this year and I decided to do some party prep.

I was taught how to handle the bars 15-16 transition in The Lea Rig a particular way that is not as written and I wanted to address that - some dancers and teachers tend to get bent out of shape if you do not hew the line and a few of them were present. I also wanted to do some remedial work on Caberfei, one of my top 10 favourite reels (it's the MUSIC!)

The dances we did were:
     Sister Blanche of St. Andrew's  (32 J 3)  B. McMurtry
     The Lea Rig  (32 S 2)  21/5
     Caberfei   (32 R 3)  18C
     Burn of Sorrow  (32 S 2)  B. Priddey
     Flight of the Falcon  (32 J 3)  B. Priddey
     Glen Feshie  (32 S 3)  anon. - Grampian Coll.
     Montgomeries' Rant  (32 R 3)  10/1

Sister Blanche:- A simple jig with a poussette which means it is not a beginner's dance. But that didn't matter because we walked it for warm up. Cold and Raw finally hit the North East. It isn't special, but there is room in my box for simple, easy to teach dances that have a nice story.

The Lea Rig:- The dance itself is, in my opinion, somewhat tedious. The music and song however are sublime. The problem I have is that as second man I have never liked dancing between 1C as they set to one another on bars 15&16 which is how it is written. That setting is still their moment even though they have already had three of them. My other problem is that I am a creature of habit and inertia: I was taught a different way and I like that way - which is for 2nd man to dance down behind 1st man on those bars as 2nd lady turns into place - and since it doesn't change the dance in any substantive way, no one else is affected and it gives 1C their moment, I see no reason to change how I dance or teach The Lea Rig. That is basically what I said last night and I gave everyone permission to compare the two versions which they did and that was a real joy to see
Oh yes, one other thing - the move from right hands across into position for the half poussette is still one of the nicest moves in Scottish dancing, or any dancing for that matter.

Caberfei:- (aka The Deer's Antlers) - The music is, quite simply, joyful; and it is such a good dance, such a fun, playful dance and the suffering I see whenever it is done!  Half set and half reel - oh the pain, and such pain, and it's all habit. Don't you hear it? "Only 1 pas de basque?! Impossible! I can't do just one! I have to do two, one on the right and one on the left" and so forth and so on and on...

And those are three of the moments in the dance - the two half sets into half reels and the half set into the half circle. Moments where it is no longer rote, common or everyday. Where this one is different and you get to really dance. And most dances only have one or two such moments. Oh, and the other moment is the down-for-one, up-for-one lead - it too is different and eye contact with partner in that moment makes the moment.

On an esthetic note: The stag's antlers – this dance is the only one in the country dance repertoire where it is permited for the men to raise their arms and take the highland antler position. But for heaven's sake, if you can't hold your arms UP there don't do it! Wimpy arms with hands next to the ears looks horrible and that is saying it kindly!

The Burn of Sorrow:- one of Barry Priddey's easier dances and, like so many of his, includes the Tourbillon figure. The more I dance it the more I see how 'large' it can become. And that is really rather large. I am tempted to see haw far I can go in making all the moves 'touch and go' and reduce the hand holding to a minimum. Just because.

The Flight of the Falcon:- Basically 16 bars of tandem, lead change reels of three. On the New Haven Highland Ball. Which I still have to sign up for.

Glen Feshie:- A nice basic strathspey with a little kick to it. Needs good music, music that will hold the interest because otherwise the dance can lean to the tedious. I use Petr White's Kendoon Strathspey.

Montgomeries' Rant:- What does this dance have that, no matter how often all we teachers present it, the dancers still have huge smiles when coming off the floor? 

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