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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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dancing on the Heights - 26 March 2012

Hmmm, where to begin. At the end of last month's class one of the dancers commented on the use of hands by dancers listening to the briefings. She said it made her very dizzy. One person learning the dance with their hands wasn't too bad, but when three dancers did it, and none the same way, well it was too much for her.

I never noticed. Mainly because I use my hands to trace the movements and I do it with my eyes closed. For me it is the kinesthetics that lock in the pattern, the actual movement of my hands as I trace the path; I feel it so I don't need to see it. Now that I am aware that there is a problem I will have to tone it down.

In other news I have finally gotten my computer and stereo system linked up properly and can now digitize vinyl and old tapes and have been doing so. One friend, soon to be moving, handed me a box of some 20 tapes and asked me to turn them into CDs. I am. Very slowly. The unfortunate part is that I have to listen to everything in real time, and then take the time to insert markers between the tracks and clean up the noise and split the tracks, and import it all into iTunes, convert everything into MP3 or AAC format and only then burn. The upside to this is that I have, temporarily, in my possession a copy of the music for Gentle Annie, 32 S 3, written by Ellie Hurd, sister to Bob Houghton, published in the Delaware Valley Silver collection. Music commissioned from Terpsichore, Liz Donaldson and Elke Baker. Super dance, super music, and now mine!

On a similar note: I was at the NY Branch class this past Thursday (March 29) and was browsing their CD collection and I saw four or five CDs, home made, of a favourite band leader, Jimmy Blair. I just love the one album of his that I have, Highland Dance Party. I want more, as much as I can get. Anybody out there willing to pass on to me any other albums of his? I would be willing to send back with a digital version. Please, anyone?
FYI - I use Jimmy Blair's version of Lady Sophia Anne of Bute instead of the name tune recording for the dance Solway Reel.

A couple of new books have been added to the collection. I recently bought The Kangaroo's Paw and Auld Friends Meet (Collected Leaflets of Roy Goldring). I went looking and found Sue McKinnell's web page and found she has posted some 10 or so years of dance compositions. I picked out some dances to try because her dance, Barbara's Strathspey, is a hot item in the NY/NJ area.

I taught one of the Roy Goldring leaflets to tepid response and one of Sue's to loud applause and a Dancer's Choice Award as well as a few groans for the name.

The evening's dances were:
     East of Yeadon  (32 J 3) Roy Goldring
     Chasing the Red Dot  (32 R 5)  Sue McKinnell
     The Docent's Tour   (32 S 3)  Tim Wilson
     The Balgeddie Reel  (32 R 5)  Mary S. Brandon
     The Happy Dancers  (32 J 3)  Roy Goldring
     Maurice   (32 S 2)  Gary Thomas

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East of Yeadon:- From The Collected Leaflets of Roy Goldring, this read as an ok dance but danced as tedious. No special spark to pick it up and maybe that is why I had never heard of it before? Another possibility for the tepid response is that I made a poor choice of music. Worth another try at a later date.

Chasing the Red Dot:- Sue McKinnell apparently has a lot of cats, and she loves to tease them with a laser pointer. The name needs work the dance doesn't. There is a lovely "celtic braid" formation danced by first and fifth couples that looks spectacular and is simple to dance. All were in agreement and bestowed a Dancer's Choice Award and I have gone further, it is on the short list for next year's Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance.

The Docent's Tour:- Tim's dance continues to delight. Smiles all around every time I teach it. I had a nice email from Ken Way (teacher of the Middletown, CT class) who picked the dance up from Tim Wilson last summer and was teaching both it and Gary Scott's Jig in Middletown before he saw the Tea Dance program.

The Balgeddie Reel:- a flirtatious dance for 5 couples - according to Mary S. Brandon and she is the authority. Great fun!

The Happy Dancers:- I picked this dance out years ago. But the response just hasn't been what I expected. It may be the music. The Name tune recording just isn't as good as I would like. It is OK, but that is damning with faint praise. This dance is going on the back burner and may end up being pulled from my card file of active dances altogether. "Nice" and "good dance" are not the same as applause, cheers and a Dancers Choice Award.

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