Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dancing on the Heights - 13 February 2012

It turns out that this is a very busy week for the New Haven Branch. Monday was this class, Tuesday was Valentine's day (and was being celebrated by the class in New Haven), Wednesday the Middletown class and the Branch is celebrating Ken Way's 65th birthday, and Thursday there is a performance at the Foote School in New Haven.

Attendance at my class was understandably light but I had a full set for most of the evening.

The Big News coming out of the class is that we will no longer be meeting on the 2nd Monday of each month, but rather the 4th Monday (pending confirmation with the Meeting).

I taught:-
Happy to Meet  (32 J 3 set) Iain Boyd - Happy to Meet
Maurice  (32 S 2)  Dunsmuir Dances (Gary Thomas)
Dancing In the Street  (32 R 4) Bk 42 (Tom Toriyama)
A Book of Verse  (32 S 3) Iain Boyd - unpublished
State of Grace  (32 S 3) Tim Wilson - unpublished
Swashbuckling Iain  (32 J 2) SF 2 (Carolyn Hunt)
A Dance for Marjorie  (32 S 3 set) Peter Price


Happy to Meet:- Very much a warm up dance, at least for this group, because they are very experienced and this becomes a throwaway. It was walked for the most part. Most of the group was behind schedule and nobody was present during the set aside time for warm up.

Maurice:- I get warm and fuzzy feelings when I dance this one. Even when I just teach it. It is that good.
The only thing that kicks this dance out of pure dead simple into complicated and difficult is the odd entry into the diamond poussette - it doesn't throw beginners mind you, only the self assured experienced dancers who just can't quite modify their muscle memory. And I taught it because it will be done at the Kilts & Ghillies tea dance on April 28.

Dancing in the Street:- This was requested from the floor. It is on the New Haven Highland Ball program and not, apparently , commonly done in the New Haven class. It isn't one of my standards either - I gave it a B rating when I first taught it in 2003. It didn't get any better this time.

A Book of Verse:- This dance is listed in the database as "unpublished". I received a photocopy from Ellen Sears who taught the dance at the branch class in NYC. Iain Boyd wrote it for Mel and Ellie Brisco.
Special setting to open (nice). fairly standard middle but a lovely variation on Allemande to finish. Keeper.
Definitely going on the short list for next year's ball.

State of Grace:- This newly written dance was sent to me by Tim Wilson (San Francisco area) and is still in trials as it were. It is what I call a journeyman dance - it is solid but unexceptional. Only the final circle and chase is unusual and to get it right one needs to dance straight in and and then straight out without any movement around the circle.
No spiraling which is called for in several of John Drewry's dances so don't get caught out.

Swashbuckling Iain:- Simple but cute enough to keep handy. I wouldn't give it an A-rating but it is better than a B - so B+?  One dancer felt there was too much chasing going on - there is all of 12 bars of it.

A Dance for Marjorie:- I wrote the dance in 2006, taught it six time but not since then. Six years and I couldn't remember it. The 'feel' of it didn't come back until the 2nd or 3rd round. Then the smiles appeared. I have a note on my card showing that I had it short listed for this year's K&G Tea Dance. Maybe next year. It is good enough.

Westchester - 25 January 2012

It was a Burns night party and an end of session party combined and I tried very hard to keep the program to a realistic length - and finally got it right 'cause we weren't rushed and we ended on time.

We opened with the St. Bernard's Waltz (for warm up).

The country dances were:

The White Cockade (32 R 3)
The Lea Rig  (32 S 2/3C set)
Barley Bree  (40 J 4)
Ca' the Ewes tae the Knowes  (32 S 2)
Caberfei  (32 R 3)

a break for haggis and whiskey (as well as neeps and tatties) and then dancing continued with:

Ann Arbor  (32 J 3)
Monymusk  (32 S 3)
Montgomeries' Rant  (32 R 3)


The White Cockade:- I have been dancing it for years and, I must confess, I still like it. It must be the music.

The Lea Rig:- The music is sublime but the dance is tedious, especially if it goes the full eight times through. thankfully I had a six times through version.

Barley Bree:- I was very pleasantly surprised. I expected breakdowns during the strip the willow part and that didn't happen. I also saw a lot of smiles and I didn't expect that either.

Ca' the Ewes:- The song tune is hauntingly beautiful but we don't dance to it. What a shame. Sigh.

Caberfei:- I love it! It has so many moments! This is one of my Top 10 reels.

Ann Arbor:- From the mind of one of New Haven's own, Bob Gregg, it is a delightful dance that is easy on the legs and makes a good re-warmer for a second half.

Monymusk:- I long disliked this dance and then, one evening at Scottish Weekend at Buffalo Gap, I had such a band and the music went off the page and I went through the roof. Oh my goodness! Steve Hickman, Earl Gaddis and Alistair Fraser with Liz Donaldson and crew. I got a pirate recording of that performance, and it is a crummy recording, but I have been using it ever since to the almost complete exclusion of all other recordings because the magic of that night comes through.

Montgomeries' Rant:- I have only seen smiles and heard cheers after this dance is done and this night was no exception.