Monday, July 2, 2012

24 May 2012 - NY Branch Class

Well, I am back and the update/catch up continues...

I was asked to teach the NY Branch's class on short and I was thankful for the opportunity.
The only dance coming up was their United Nations "Summer Dance" fund raiser for Unicef so there was little opressure from the "we need to learn the dances" crowd. One of my fellow teachers calls this "The tyranny of Ball Prep."

I taught the first hour and the dances were:
     Good Hearted Glasgow  (32 J 3C) Knapman
     Mrs Muriel More  (32 R 3) Johnson
     Dragonflies  (32 S 5some) Lataille
     Rothesay Rant  (32 J 4 square) Holden
     The Reverend John MacFarlane  (32 R 4) Gary Morris


Good Hearted Glasgow -  A good basic opening Jig, popular and often used around here.

Mrs Muriel More - A very nice reel that I learned from Mervyn Short when attending the NY Branch's Pawling Weekend. A lovely sequence of half reel, turn; half reel turn. On my Top 50 Reel list as it is worth doing and, more importantly, worth doing again (in my humble opinion).

Dragonflies - It is an extraordinary dance on its own merits and when paired with Susie Petrov's 5x32
strathspey medley (lead tune: Hamish Henderson's Refusal) the synergy puts this dance through the roof. Recommended doesn't begin to cover it. This dance will be on the April 2013 Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance.

Rothesay Rant - On the United Nations Summer Dance Program but imho the kindest description for this dance is "tedious". In the extreme. But our everyday dancers can do it without anxiety attacks so...

The Reverend John MacFarlane - this one is growing on me. There is real opportunity here to dance with panache, to almost camp it up. I find myself smiling just thinking about this dance and that says something good.


29 May 2012 - Dancing on the Heights (Friends Meeting)

The last class before summer when I lose dancers to heat and vacations so I planned somethings new (most of it) something old (well, done at least once before) and a trial dance needing guinea pigs and feed back.

The dances were:
     Jill's Gentle Jig  (32 J 3) Tim Wilson (Measures of Pleasure)
     Chasing the Red Dot  (32 R 5) Sue McKinnell leaflet
     The Langdon Knot  (32 S 3)  Tim Wilson (ibid)
     The Southpaw Reel  (32 R 3)  Bob Gregg - new composition
     Mrs Muriel More  (32 R 3)
     Muggons in May  (32 J 4) Barry Priddey
     Naishcombe Hill  (32 S 3) Mervyn Short


Jill's Gentle Dance - anything but. this dance belongs tot hat category of dances that I call Huffin-Puffers. There is no rest. Immediate feedback was: no way is this dance a program opener (and maybe never again). Nice patterns but not only is there no down time for the dancers there are stretches in the dance where the dancers have such a stretch to get to their next position that they are truly struggling, and my dancers, who are good dancers, were having trouble. It needs revisiting, but in the middle of the evening, before break, when dancers are warm and able both mentally and physically.

Chasing the Red Dot - again I found it worth doing. The 'Celtic Braid' pattern is fun to watch and to dance. On the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance short list along with Dragonflies.

The Langdon Knot - I will have to revisit this dance. I know that what I saw was very, very pretty and worth dancing. But that was not the response I got from the floor and that means the dancers may need another try at it. I certainly feel the dance is worth a Teacher's Choice Award and ought to have a Dancer's Choice Award bestowed on it, but that is only my opinion, and I have been wrong before, haven't I?

The Southpaw Reel  - A new dance by Bob Gregg, it may be nice but we don't know that yet. The directions were nearly inintelligible as written. I certainly had trouble figuring out what Bob's intentions were and the dancers had clue not one. Bob finally agreed that his wording needed work and with that we broke for refreshments.

Mrs Muriel More - Once again the dance was well received and it is creeping upward toward my Top 50 list. All other considerations aside the only consideration that really matters, or makes sense, to me is this: Is it Fun? And this one is,  and that means it is worth doing even though it is no well known and one of the standards. that is why, I think, Mervyn Short taught it at the Pawling Weekend, to give it the exposure he felt it derserved.

Muggons in May - I just don't know. It looked good on paper but did not get the rousing and enthusiastic response from the dancers I thought it would get. A revisit is in order.

And from the book there is this:

      If they would drink nettle in March
      And eat muggons in May
      Sae mony  braw maidens
      Wodna gang tae the clay

Naiscombe Hill - by Mervyn Short and it received mixed reviews. I did not think it read well and only taught it to find out. And I am still not sure what I found out. What I do know that there is more to the dance than I initially thought and that it might actually be quietly very good as opposed to being an instant classic or bomb. I will definitely be revisiting this dance and trying his others.

I have mixed feelings about his dances, they seem, on first reading, to be unspectacular if not outright mundane, but when danced this one showed some subtlety and I may have to, in fairness, reconsider my initial 'read'.