XTRA! XTRA! Read All About It!

Sharlene Penman (piano), visiting from New Zealand, is the band leader for the 2019 Tea Dance.
Our fiddlers are Jenny Evans and Amy Beshara.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Catch Up time, I am more than just a wee bit behind in my posting.

28 April 2012 - Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance
Music by Terry Traub and Alice Backer

Ann Arbor (32 J 3) Bob Gregg
Adieu Mon Ami (32 S 3) Bk 24
Flowers of Edinburgh  (32 R 3) Bk 1

The Elusive Muse  (32 J 3 set) Tim Wilson (Measures of Pleasure)
The Docent's Tour  (32 S 3)  Tim Wilson (Measures of Pleasure)
The Captain  (32 R 3)  Russ King (Solstice Party Book)

Rockside  (96 J 4 square) Goldring
Dean Bridge of Edinburgh  (32 S 3)  Bk 23
Pinewoods Reel  (32 R 3) JB Dickson (Yankee Sampler)

Gary Scott's Jig  (32 J 3)  Tim Wilson (Measures of Pleasure)
Maurice  (32 S 2) Gary Thomas (Dunsmuir Dances)
Scotland's Gardens  (32 R 3) Goldring - leaflet

Balgeddie Reel  (32 R 5) Mary Brandon - leaflet
Birks of Invermay  (32 S 3) Bk 16
The Kilt Maker  (32 R 4)  Priscilla Burrage (Pinewoods Coll. #2)

Christine M. Phillips  (32 J 3) John Brenchley (Bk 46)
Gifts  (32 S 3 set)  Irene van Maaseveen (Many Happy Hours)
The Dancing Man  (32 R 3) Goldring - 10 Social Dances

That it went well doesn't come close to covering it. I have had only good comments about the program and the music. Usually when there are issues there are always a few negative comments and when the positive and the negative run about even then, in my opinion, a good balance was achieved. What I know for sure is that next years program will have a hard act to follow.

The dances by Tim Wilson are really good ones and are on my permanent short list - meaning they will get early consideration for any program I am planning.

The Balgeddie Reel had some problems - there were a some breakdowns on the floor - and I try to avoid that. I clearly miscalculated with this dance. It was for me the low point of the program and I had thought it would be one of the better dances.

Gifts is one of the sleepers on the program. The first time I danced it I knew I had a potential winner but I are never sure it's true until it is over. I asked the band to play the name tune (the Shaker hymn Simple Gifts) with variations and not use a medley. It got a long round of applause.

The other sleeper on the program is Christine M. Phillips - get the transition between the half reels into the turns and it flies! I knew it was good but didn't realize just how much fun it was going to be.

Maurice deserves to be part of the standard repertoire. Every one should know this dance. How ever much effort one puts in is repaid with interest. And it just keeps getting better every time I dance it.
It is not too much of a stretch to say that this dance is as good enough to be ranked right up with Montgomeries' Rant.

The Dancing Man is another good dance but it is not a good program end-er. It too physically demanding. It qualifies as a real huffin-puffer. First half end-er maybe, certainly better earlier than later.

Kudos to all who made this evening a huge success:
Cate Mahoney, Barbara Austen, Susan Leff, Ed Davis, Nina Stein, Ingrid Davis, the band, the set up crew, the cleanup crew, the watering crew, the kitchen crew and all the the others who worked and taught and practiced and then showed up to dance. Thank you all for all that you did that I know about and especially for all that you did that I don't know about.


8 May 2012 - Fanwood, NJ

I had a surprise call asking me to teach the class in Fanwood back in April, and I got return engagement.

The April class gave me a good idea just how good the Fanwood dancers are with figures and geography. The RSCDS standard on footwork is ignored there, but they are certainly very well trained "above the navel dancers" in John Drewry's words. In short they can dance. It may not be "pretty" but they do have fun.

I tossed three difficult dances at them this night and they did superbly.

Warm up was EH3 7AF, then I did a dance of my own, a dance by Bob Gregg (of New Haven), a dance from the Imperial Book #3, and closed with a nice strathspey to some GREAT music.

The dances were:
     EH3 7AF  (32 J 3)
     Altamont Fair (32 R 3) Peter Price
(or Peter Price's Apologies to Geoff and Pat Walshe)
    Dress Parade  (32 S 4) Bob Gregg
    Mrs Stuart Linnell  (40 R 3)  Imperial Bk 3
    Dragonflies  (32 S 5some)  Jane Lataille


EH3 7AF  -  Standard, nothing special but good for warming up a class who doesn't like that stuff.

Altamont Fair - I wrote this dance Labor Day weekend while driving to Albany for the Schenectady Pipe Band's Capital District Highland Games held at the Atltamont Fair Grounds outside of Albany, NY. 
It borrows the setting figure from Da Rain Dancin' by Ron Wallace and there are moments when dancers have to move.

There is some history to this - in the early 90's Geoff and Pat Walshe started dancing in New Haven. They were both retired ice skaters (dancers) with Pat having competed at the Olympics. So there was a rather high level of ability. What I didn't realize at first was Geoff's age. It turns out he served in the Royal Navy for the duration of WWII, was sunk on at least one occasion, and wounded/injured more than once.

It became apparent that he was plateauing early and was having trouble with the more subtle aspects of the dance so I pushed for and got a class together whose purpose was to push the intermediate dancers and get them up to the advanced level. I did a poor job at that and really blew things when "politics" raised its ugly head.

A couple of the advanced dancers in the class objected loudly and publicly to Pat and Geoff being in the class. They considered the class to be for advanced dancers and didn't hear/comprehend that it was an Intermediate/advanced class with the intent of growing the intermediate dancers and I failed to squash the gripers and set the record straight. The end result was that Pat and Geoff stopped dancing in New Haven and went elsewhere for their dancing to our profound loss.

A few years later I heard in June that Geoff had been diagnosed with cancer in December. In August I headed up to the Captital District Highland Games. I was listening to the tape Soir et Matin by Kerry Elkin (fiddle), Peter Barnes (piano) and Danny Noveck (strings). One cut of reels had this dynamite tune, listed as Dm Reel, that had me bouncing in my seat. Soon a series of figures came together and I had a dance.

Some weeks later I was was struggling with a name when inspiration hit and I realized just who deserved the dance. I printed a copy, took it by, and gave it to Pat. Unfortunately Geoff never had a chance to dance it, he died later that fall. I still didn't know the name of the tune, sent the tape to a friend, and got chills when I heard back - the tune was Michel Ferry's Farewell to Tchernobyle.

The dance is published in the New Branch's book The Nutmeg Collection under the title The Altamont Fair (or Peter Price's Compliment to Geoff and Pat Walshe).

I admit it - I wimped out. The title should always have been Peter Price's Apologies to Geoff and Pat Walshe (or The Altamont Fair).

Dress Parade - by Bob Gregg a dancer from New Haven, this dance has a unique and very different Set and Link pattern. It is rather disorienting and dancers not paying close attention are in trouble.
Handled beautifully by the Fanwood class.

Not a dance I would repeat often. The pattern is a "fun once" but would become very tedious if oft repeated.

Mrs Stuart Linnell - Oh my what a fun dance! One necessary foundation is the dancers must be comfortable with fractions. The half reels really must be EXACTLY half. The three quarters turns are only three quarters if the half reels are proper half reels. If one dancer gets it wrong - chaos.
But when it is right a rhythm and a pulse come out and then, oh then...

Worth It!!

Dragonflies - 5some (5 dancer) strathspey by Jane Lataille now in Santa Fe. A linear set and link for 3 makes this one interesting. And when danced to Susie Petrov's 5x32 set of strathspeys from her vinyl album Hold the Lass till I get Her the result is sublime.

Well I am out of time today, so I can't complete this update, the rest will have to wait.

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