Wednesday, August 21, 2013

20 August 2013 - New Haven

Another class with small numbers - I made the 8th dancer for most of the evening. Then 2 dancers left after the break and we were just six.

The dances were:
   Lover's Lane (32 J 3 set) J. Lataille - Still Enough to Dance
   On the Quarter-Deck  (32 H 2)  I. Boyd - The Harbour City
   Paidlin' in the Burn  (32 J 2)  Barry Priddey - SDA #87
   Flight to Melbourne  (32 R 4 sq.)  Book 47
   Aging Gracefully  (32 S 3) C. Bromann - Book 47
   Yet Another Birthday  (32 S 3 set) H. Boyd - Montreal Moments
   The Lasniks of Arlington  (32 S 3)  R. Wallace - wip


Lover's Lane: A simple one. Good for warming up as there
                    are no pas de basques and no circles. Also a good reminder of the differences between figure eights on the sides and fig of eights across. If you have small numbers then the books from her Santa Fe class are must haves.

On the Quarter-Deck: One of my, and my dancer's, perennial
                                   favourites. With the right hornpipes (and some people say there are no bad hornpipes) the feel of the dance is just sublime. Every one stands straighter, dances crisper, and has a smile on their face. And isn't that really the acid test. That the dancers have fun? Smiles say so.

Paidlin' in the Burn: somewhat on the busy side.
                                I give it about an 85 - the transitions from the corner into the
center turns are awkward. One of the few dances by Barry Priddey that I am not enamored of.

Flight to Melbourne: Taught tonight by Deborah Leary it has,
                                according to her, similarities to Bobby Brown's Canadian Breakdown without the tediousness. It is simple enough to be sure but I am I do not want to dance it on a regular basis. An 80? Good but not top flight.

Aging Gracefully: Another Book 47 dance, and for
                           the most part a good one. One dancer has real problems with four bar RH turns in strathspey time. Not as in "difficult" but as in "why bother". But the "set, Turn BH; pass Rshoulder, set" is nice if you can get the timing, flow and control. The reel is just different enough to keep it out of the 'ho hum" category.

Yet Another Birthday: A Holly Boyd dance from Montreal Moments.
                                 She takes the wonderful synchromesh back-to-back movement from the dance Maurice and combines it with a half diamond poussette to make a delightful progression. Two thumbs up from me, and if I could I'd give it three. The music! Oh such good music!

The Lasniks of Arlington: a work in progress by Ron Wallace. This one
                                      is a toughie. The middle figures take work… lots of work! The opening figure - The Rose Progression - is simply stunning and soooo beautiful. Downside- The final 8 bars: They are a let down after everything that came before. Ron, please come up with something better before you carve the dance in stone.

13 August 2013 - New Haven

The second week of my leading the New Haven's class of summer social dancing.

The dances we did were:
    This One's Four Isobel  (32 S foursome )  Terry Glasspool
    As the Worm Turns  (32 J 3)  Priscilla Burrage
    Cruit Mo Chridh  (32 R 3)  John Bowie Dickson
    Sands of Morar  (32 S 3)  Barry Priddey
    Links with St. Petersburg  (32 J 3)  Malcolm Brown
    Culbin Sands  (32 J 3) Barry Priddey


This One's Four Isobel:  Quite simply one of the best pieces of
                                       choreography I have ever encountered. A beautiful dance and accessible; it is not a 'demonstration team only' piece. When I have small numbers this is one of my standard fall backs. Well worth doing.

As the Worm Turns: With such a name how could I resist. Another
                               dance liked by the class. My impression, on first reading, was "too much - too little down time". I was wrong. It is good, not great. It won't become a standard of mine but it is worth remembering and pulling out occasionally. Yet another dance from the Montreal Moments book. Buy it. Good stuff there.

Cruit Mo Chridh: A John Bowie Dickson dance who also authored
                           Pinewoods Reel.  Fun! The music by the band Les Joueurs de Bon Accord is terrific though not traditional. The combination is Finest Kind! So you should buy both the book and the accompanying CD.

Sands of Morar: A dance by Barry Priddey (quickly becoming one
                        of my favourites). Published  in Book 45 and elsewhere. I love the Tourbillon progression and I try hard to fine tune how it is danced. Bars 5-6: Getting dancers to release hands early enough for the 'lead dancer to make it  across the set so couples can cross over from the side lines is the key and that is hard to get. When it happens it is stunning. Anything else is, unfortunately, mush. If you look on the "top 50" pages you will see more than a few of Barry Priddey's dances listed. I like edgy dances and his dances usually are just that.

Links with St. Petersburg: The performance by the summer school
                                       dem team is not danced as written. And I prefer it as danced not as written. But I understand - getting most dancers to actually DO it that way is near to impossible. So we publish it as it will be done. And we teach those who can (or will) the subtle points that make it dance so nicely. One thing about the video - in the "set to corner partner" I saw a lot of traveling with open pas de basques (i.e. no close in third) which is not what the manual 'recommends'.

Culbin Sands:  A Barry Priddey dance - you're not surprised are you?
                     Not a Dancer's Choice Award dance, at least not yet. But it is close. My Humble Opinion - it is a good one worth doing and redoing.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

8 August 2013 - Tenafly, NJ

I am currently sitting in the Honda dealership waiting for the car. Honda has a WiFi network for their customers so I am, in this regard, rather happy as I update my neglected blog.

There are issues. The main one - I no longer have a steady class to teach. No steady class - no steady stream of updates. The classes that I do teach have mostly been for beginners and therefore I can only do one or two dances a week and rather tedious ones at that.

Well I finally caught a break. I am teaching the New Haven Branch class all of August. Hooray! and other good words because I finally have news and updates!

6 August - New Haven

Small class - just 9 dancers.

We warmed up with Alice’s Request, 32 J 2, Roy Goldring 2nd Graded & Social Dances. I requested that it be walked, rather I told them to walk it and it seems, much to my surprise, that some people just can’t. If the music plays they have to dance. 

We covered 8 other dances in the 2 hours
   Shining Lights  (32 S 3) B. McOwen
   Wicked Willy  (32 R 4) H. Ways
   Union Jig  (32 J 3)  E. Brunken
   Miss Jane Muirhead of Dunsmuir  (32 S 3) Dunsmuir Dances
   Cruit Mo Chridh  (32 R 3)  JBD - Montreal Moments
   The Dancer's Circle  (32 J 3)  
   City of Belfast  (32 S 3 set)
   Welcome to Pawling  (32 R 4) JBD- leaflet


Shining Lights –-  written by Barbara McOwen of Boston and included
                       with her CD of the same name. This dance I like, in spite of myself. The 2-hand turns halfway to change sides, then again to change places on the sides is a nice figure and it takes some work to make them look good. Similarly the change of pace from the 2-bar half turns to a 2-bar full turn takes work if it isn't to come as a surprise.
   The set to corner and gypsy partner, first seen in John Drewry's dance The Peat Fire Flame and next seen (at least by me) in a Roy Goldring strathspey was getting a bit long in the tooth (in my humble opinion at least) but works here partly because of the set up and partly because of the following reel with its ending. Add in the good music and we have a keeper.

Wicked Willy - This dance has only one major figure, and yet, for all
                    its simplicity, it is a perennial favorite and with good reason: It is both accessible and fun.

Union Jig - A dance newly published by Elaine Brunken and inscribed
               to Jim  Stevenson-Mathews and Gaitly Stevenson-Matthews in honor of their union. When marriage became legal in Connecticut they took the ferry across Long Island Sound and were legally married. I was there and that probably prejudices me - I like the dance. I like the care needed in the first 8 bars: RH Across once round! LH Across 2 bars only! the 2 men turn half round, the women the same. End 1C 2C in original places on opposite sides. Dancers need to be aware and be consistent in their dancing. 

Miss Jane Muirhead of Dunsmuir - I bought the book. I looked over
                                           the dances. This one got an "eh". Then I danced it. The "eh" became "sweet" and it has been in my top 10 ever since. Simple with a gem tucked inside. Recommended!

Cruit Mo Chridh - By John Bowie Dickson of Pinewoods Reel fame.
                        Worth it. Dancers finished with smiles and applause. There is a CD to go with the book. (Les Jouers de Bon Accord). Not traditional but fun. Recommended -– as is Yet Another Birthday by Holly Boyd which is also in the book.

The Dancer's Circle - This one did not end with smiles and applause.
                           The consensus was: too many pieces. I, unfortunately wasn't in it so there will have to be a retake. Maybe on August 20th. Probably with different music if I can remember then what I used this time.

City of Belfast - We have a problem Houston. I like both the dances
                      that use this music. This is the proper dance for this music and it is nice. And I like set to 1st corners, set to 2nd corners (not often done) and the espagnole progression…... especially when they are nicely danced and this group does dance well. I would willingly do this dance again and shortlist it for a ball program. Recommended.

This music was also chosen to accompany the dance Broadway, composed by Chris Ronald and published in his 2010 book The Big Apple Collection, all dances with a New York City connection. The music is good and it fits the dance which is a wonderful one. This dance is on the shortlist for the 2014 Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance (March 29 - note well - a month earlier than usual. Plan Ahead!)

Welcome to Pawling __- another John Bowie Dickson dance, another winner. Not easy.
                           The last figure is different! The transition into it is tricky (fourth couple: WAKE UP) and needs careful teaching but the effort put in is well rewarded. Gets smiles from the dancers every time. Recommended.