First night of a new series in Westchester.
A new lot of beginners (2), a couple who contra and swing dance. The old lot of beginners haven't been showing up. Not because they have decided to stay away but because life has gotten in their way.
A cataract surgery; premature grand twins; the death of a sister; an aging parent; and so on and so forth.
One thing that became clear after this evening is that the Westchester group is not what it used to be.
The greying of the class has taken firm hold, and politics has made it a bit worse… I am not going there!
I opened with Romaine Butterfield's dance Cabbages and Kings which has become one of my standard, any place any where any group, dances. There is enough in it to keep it interesting even for experienced dancers walking it as a warm up.
The next dance, also from down under, was Home and Away, by Barry Skelton. It uses the Best Set in the Hall figure, and possibly predates that dance. What I like is the alternate ending - half Dolphin Reels of 3 on the diagonal. First made popular by the publication of The Dolphin Book, 'dolphin reels' were also used in Barry Priddey's Flight of the Falcon which predates the Dolphin Book. Who may have invented the figure before Barry Priddey I do not know.
I know the class has been taught Best Set in the Hall, and more than once in the last year. The walk through looked really good. So I moved on with out doing extensive walk-throughs. When they danced it they looked like they had never seen it before and would have benefited from a complete reteaching from scratch. In retrospect I don't think it would have been beneficial.
I have been teaching here part of each year since the mid 1990s. This was a wake up for me. I know they had been sliding downhill but I have not seen it this bad before or, actually, acknowledged that it was this bad.. And looking back, they have lost a lot of their good dancers over the last two years. I should not have been surprised.
I continued the precedent set by Sue Ronald which is to teach a 'No Talk Through' dance each week to be danced the next week. It seems to sharpen the mind a bit. This week I taught City of Belfast. The music by Marian Anderson is lovely. So lovely that Chris Ronald used this music for his dance Broadway. The New York Branch instituted a "dance list" a few years ago, and no dance can stay on it more than three years. Broadway is coming off, and it looks like City of Belfast is going on. I see no reason not to keep using this music by Marian Anderson and her band, it is simply, IMHO, too good to lose.
The second hour, or what remains of it after a very social tea 'break', is dedicated to social dancing with the beginning/basic dancers included.
The first dance was Flowers of Edinburgh taught by Deb Leary. I then taught Delvine Side. (It is the music, that great music by the San Francisco Band Fiddlesticks and Ivory). This album is a must have.
Even if you don't care for fiddle bands get this one! I consider this music for Delvine Side to be THE definitive recording. I have never heard a better or more energy filled recording or live performance.
Cabbages and Kings - (32 J 3) Butterfield - The Harbour City
Home and Away - (32 J 3) Skelton - The Celtic Book
My Mither's Aye Glow'rin' Owre Me - (32 J 2) Hugh Foss - Song Tunes
City of Belfast - (32 S 3 set) Mulholland - Diamond Jubilee Dances - Belfast Branch
Delvine Side - (32 S 3) Bk 2/9