Tuesday, December 29, 2015

14 December 2015 - Scotia

A short post today - we didn't do anything extraordinary but there are two mini-rants.

The dances taught were:

Autumn Leaves  –  (32 J 3)  –  Jane Lataille
Strathglass House  –  (32 S 3)  –  Bk 13
General Stuart's Reel  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 10

Slow Simmer  –  (32 J 3)  –  Pam Stephens
Ann of Scotia  –  (32 S 3)  –  Ronald
Hamilton Rant  –  (48 R 3)  –  Bk 22
Delvine Side  –  (32 S 3)  –  Bk 2


Autumn Leaves:- a nice simple baby jig. Nothing special in terms of formations or figures. But what it does have are opportunities for covering. Which begs the question "what is covering?" 

I often hear covering being taught as a learned skill in and of itself much like foot changes, handing and so on. I do not agree. It is a result - not something you "do".

It is what happens when everyone is dancing the same thing in the same way at the same time.

What most teachers are trying to say, or think they are saying, is "check where the other dancers are to find out if you are in sync with them - and adjust your dancing accordingly."

Slow Simmer:- from the book StrathsBabes by Pam Stephens and Ellen Ternes. It starts with (In New World vernacular) Double Crossover Mirror Reels - And if you want to bring it to a full boil, as Pam says, have every couple cross to the opposite side when they are at the top. Fun! A bit different. Thumbs up!

Hamilton Rant:- What I have been hearing for years, from several sources is that this is the only dance in which Set to and Turn Corners/Partner has a 'flip' written into each turn.

I have taken that statement at face value and since I know that dance well I have never specifically checked the original for that. When I did go back, I read what I was expecting to see not what was actually on the page. Bad me.

It turns out that the flip/twirl is NOT written in. It says this:
First couple set to and turn first corners, to finish facing each other in diagonal line          * between * first corners."
 The emphasis is mine. The word 'between' forces us to make the two hand turns Full Round. We then have to figure out what dancers have to do to end facing their partner because Bob Campbell doesn't say.

I see two options:
1)  a standard release hands early and "slide" into place with backs to corner and facing partner or
2)  hold on to hands a little longer than in option 1 and use your corner's right hand to aid you in  "flipping" to face your partner.

Important point - to flip or not to flip is the choice of 1st couple, not the corner. Corners have only one job - to lend support! Corners to not get to force anyone to do something they are not able or ready to do!

Friday, December 11, 2015

7 December 2015 – Scotia

The prep is mostly over! Yay! And in my delight I taxed the mental prowess of my dancers. No complaints but a gentle comment from a fellow teacher a few days later.

Deborah was working on pas de basque and Set to Corner-Partner (Hello-Goodbye).
I found a John Drewry dance with that in it and it didn't seem overly difficult (yeah right!) and Drewry Night was over and why not?

Dances taught were:

Sla'ine's Fancy  –  (32 J 3)  – Let's All Dance 2
un-named dance  –  (32 R 3)  – Leary
Da Rain Dancin'  –  (32 R 3)  –  Wallace

Driving Through Eutaw  –  (32 J 3)  – Leary
Drumduan Cottage  –  (32 S 3)  –  Drewry
Orpington Caledonians –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 49
Eggemoggin Reach  –  (32 J 3)  – Price
Dragonflies  –  (32 S 5dancers)  –  Lataille


Sla'ine's Fancy:- aka The Spinning Wheel. Nice baby dance. Thumbs up.

Un-named dance:- written to make Set to Corner-Partner the only issue. It worked. I suspect it has been written before and more than once.
RA ; LA :: set, cast ; dance between 3C cast up to corners :: Set C-P :: 6 hands round and back ::

Da Rain Dancin':- Golden Gillie! This is an ok dance to fabulous music and that makes it a hit.
With the correct music I would dance it anytime anywhere. Any other music -  forget about it.

Driving Through Eutaw:- By Deborah, while driving on the long stretch of Interstate highway in Alabama. We were playing the Marian Anderson CD  of Robert Burns dances and tunes. The dancers in her head came up with this.  A nice little dance but with a bit of asymmetry that makes for a little more thinkum than usual for a simple jig. The last time it was taught it was fairly ugly. This time much much nicer.

Drumduan Cottage:- Look it up (Canadian Book). I asked afterwards if there was any redeeming social value to the dance. I got a  yes - it keeps the dancers thinking out of the box. That is not a resounding positive response.

Me, I liked the Corners Pass & Turn in this dance. The usual track has corners dancing in, turning RH half round and dancing back out to place. The actives dance round, pass right shoulders in the middle and dance on. Nice but there is not much spice to it. Here the figure starts facing 2nd corners, the active couple dance round and have a very zesty turn to face first corners. I like! He uses this pattern in Miss Florence Adams (Bk 38). I like it there too. No one else seems to adopted it and I have to wonder why. It ups the level nicely and pleasantly but not by too much.

Orpington Caledonians:- Another thumbs up from the floor. I like it enough that I put it on The Kilts and Ghillies program for this May. The Fair Haven Heights class gave it a Golden Ghillie.

Eggemoggun Reach:- I did it again here because I really need a fair test. The dancers in New Haven are too good. I needed it done by a set of representative dancers.

It is trickier than I thought and needs careful/thorough teaching. For some reason the 4 bar turns following the half reels seems to short circuit the brains.

Emphasis - four bar turns start on side lines, end on side lines. Don't hold hands too long!
Stay with the music. When the dancers are on it shines! When they are even just a little off it gets ugly.

Dragonflies:-Oh I just love this one! I use Susie Petrov's 5x32 set of strathspeys from her album Hold the Lass Till I Get Her. The music is lovely and the tunes work with the dance… the room seems to get quieter for some reason. In my top 10.

30 November 2015 – Scotia Party

Party Night!

Gloria's Wee Jig  –  (32 J 3)  – McMurtry
Bedrule  –  (32 S 3)  –  Bk 33
Hamilton Rant  –  (48 R 3)  – Bk 22

Welcome to Ayr  –  (32 J 3)  –  Bk 47
Auld Springs Gees Nae Price  –  (32 S 3)  – Treble
Sleepy Maggie  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 11

The Lady Wynd  –  (32 J 3)  –  Goldring
A Summer Meeting  –  (32 S 3 set)  –  Bk 48
Red House  –  (40 R 2)  –  Bk 7

Mrs Stewart's Jig  –  (32 J 3)  –  Bk 35
Braes of Breadalbane  – (32 S 3)  –  Bk 21
Deil Amang the Tailors  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 14

23 November 2015 - Dancing on the Heights (NHFM)

This evening was about prep, but not completely.
Drewry night was coming Real Soon Now and The Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance is coming in May.

The latter program is more varied than the usual ball program. It is about half RSCDS and half out society. This is deliberate. The couple of years before I took over the class and the ball programing fewer than half the dances had been from RSCDS and sets were breaking down on a regular basis. I chose to ease the difficulty level while trying to keep the flavor of those programs.
The end result: unfamiliar dances (not necessarily hard dances) that require prepping.

The dances I taught were:

Broadway  –  (32 S 3 set)  –  Ronald
Capelthwaite  –  (32 R 2)  –  C. Sigg
Earl of Mansfield  –  (48 R 4)  – Drewry
Richard the Third  –  (32 S 3)  –  Glasspool
Countess of Dunsmore's Reel  –  (32 R 3)  – Bk 49
Ythanside  –  (32 S 3)  –  Drewry
Eggemoggin Reach  –  (32 J 3)  – Price


Broadway:- I had small numbers at the start, this dance worked and besides I like the dance a lot. So do the dancers. The only hard part is knowing who dances the diagonal half rights and lefts. Simple solution - the four dancers who cast during the Set-and-Link3 are the four who dance the Rights and Lefts.

Capelthwaite:- This one also was well liked by the class. I consider it something of a mind bender but the dancers didn't have any trouble with it. And I think I know why. It was on the New Haven Branch's Nutmeg Workshop held on October 17th just a month earlier.
I don't know that I would do it on a regular basis but give it try anyway. Your dancers might like it - perhaps enough to make it a favorite.

Earl of Mansfield:- On the upcoming Drewry Night program.  Not easy. Not even that rewarding when you get it right - low payback for effort put in. It is not going on my favorites list.
My assessment is that while the individual pieces of the dance are not difficult the sum of the parts is.

Richard the Third:- I love this one. The music is a problem though. Terry strongly recommends using the music for Miss Gibson's Strathspey from the CD Memories of Scottish Weekend. This is a recognized name tune and I normally wouldn't use it.

But I do.… and I use another recordings when I teach Miss Gibson's. The music and dance fit so well here that any other music just doesn't cut the mustard. During the Rights and Lefts variation for example a pulse develops that is almost mesmerizing. We often say "Listen; and dance to the music." Here I say "Listen and dance WITH the music." There is a difference.

Countess of Dunmore's Reel:- This is the first time (that I know of) that this dance has been taught by any of the teachers in this area. The class loved it. They gave it a Golden Ghillie.

And that is a relief! I put this on the Kilts and Ghillies program unseen and undanced. It looked good  on paper and now I know that it is good in fact as well.

Ythanside:- One of my top 50 but not a golden ghillie dance. What it does is reward good dancers who anticipate. The expanding turns into circles takes a lot of self control to make them flow. When it flows it is magic. When you are early and stop between each piece the magic just never happens.

Eggemoggin Reach:- The Eggemoggin Reach is a stunningly beautiful stretch of water on the north side of the Penobscot Bay in Maine. The tune this dance wrote itself too is The Penobscot Bay Jig tthe fourth tune in a set of jigs by Peter Macfarlane and Lilian Linden.

I am finding this dance to be 'interesting'. The dancers in my head have no problem with it. The dancers on the floor do. This is the third or fourth teaching of the dance to this group and it is only now coming together.

Where I anticipated difficulty it went well. Where I thought it would be easy it was ugly. This pattern has happened now in several classes so it must be true and the dancers in my head must be very mistaken.

Even before they got it the class liked it. In fact they over ruled me when I wanted to give it a rest and insisted that we keep going until they got it right. This month they still had trouble in the beginning, but when they got it they gave it a Golden Ghillie and were enthusiastic about it appearing on the next (2017) Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance.

And a huge Thank You to Keith Rose. I put a crib and he wrote a diagram for the dance!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

16 November 2015 - Scotia

Deborah was back and it was another week of prep for Drewry Night.

The dances taught were:-

Sla'ine's Fancy  -  (32 J 3)  -  Let'a All Dance 2/Guilbert
John McAlpin  -  (32 S 3)  -  Foss
Deil Amang the Tailors  -  (32 R 3)  -  Bk 14

Gloria's Wee Jig  -  (32 J 3)  -  McMurtry/Devil's Quandary
Earl of Mansfield  -  (48 R 4)  -  Drewry
Ythanside  -  (32 S 3)  -  Drewry


Sla'ine's Fancy:- aka The Spinning Wheel. Nice little dance in keeping with Deborah's other hobby. The joy of this baby jig is that it is not deadly boring like so many others. If you find good music this one is a bit of fun. I think this is a good one to have on call as needed.

John McAlpin:- On an upcoming class party program. A good handing dance and a good vehicle for teaching clean, precise, dancing.

Deil Amang the Tailors:- Good fun! Need to lighten the mood? Need a quick no-thinkum ender for a half or to bring up the energy level of the room? Choose this one.

Gloria's Wee Jig:- IMHO the end chase is sweet. It has just enough of a surprise element that it gives the dance a dash of spice. I give it a good hearty thumbs up!
I can't tell you how many times I have read it over and shrugged. Then I danced it...

Earl of Mansfield:- It just shouldn't be this difficult. I look at the pieces of the dance and they aren't particularly hard.

Then I look again at the leading and casting figure - and realize that 3rd couple have to know where third place is and go there - precisely. This is called Set Awareness and it is, I am realizing, a very esoteric skill. I call it the "birds on the wire" syndrome. You have seen it. A flock of birds sitting on a fence or a wire, all evenly spaced out. Then one bird leaves and all the birds shift just enough to close up the gap and once again they are all evenly spaced.

Dancers do that in this dance. Active dancers are 1st and 3rd couples so there is already a gap between 2nd and 4th couples, then 2nd couple steps up to top place doubling that gap and third couple is supposed to cast into 3rd place creating the proper space in which 1st couple face 1st corners. It rarely happens. What do 3rd couple do instead? They cast into the middle of the double gap created by 2nd couple stepping up and leave no clear cut obvious gap to define who and where the corners are. Poor 1st couple. They get no help, no clue, and the onus of keeping the dance together falls on them.

Ythanside:- I love this one! It takes some teaching but it rewards you far beyond the effort required.

The dance has two 'moments' where care is needed. On bars 7-8 1C change places up and down the set by RH and end between 2nd or 3rd couples. They *must* pull right shoulder back and face one another. This sets them up for the reels of 3 across - 1M to pass 2M and 1L to pass 3L by Rshoulders. There is a tendency to make the change and stay facing up/down out of the set. This gives a "wrong" entry into the reel and into the next figure and that breaks the flow, and John is noted for the flow of his dances.

The other 'moment' - bars 23-24:- 2L and 3L turn with BH half way opening up to face 1L who has cast; 2M 3M similarly turn BH half way and open up to face 1M. These turns merge into circles of three merging into a circle of 6 ending on own sides. This is a lovely sequence of assimilation - 2s into 3s into 6 - and it requires anticipation and planning and control and when you do all of that the flow thrills. Therefore it is critical, well that is a bit of an exaggeration, that the turning dancers end closely back to back with partners and keep dancing on, flowing into the circles of three. In the teaching, that moment between bars 24 and 25, is a *artificial* stopping point which dancers take to heart and all these artificial moments of stoppage where we place them so we can teach the sequence or provide landmarks unfortunately become part of their dancing.

Thank you Leslie Kearney (New Haven, CT) for finding it, teaching it, and putting on a ball program. I would have continued to pass it by.

9 November 2015 – Scotia

Deborah couldn't make it this evening so some switching around was in order. I stood in for Deborah and took the first "teaching" portion of the night and Sue Ronald stood in for me and took the second, social, half of the evening.

My emphasis was pas de basque and poussette. And I was thorough. Very thorough.
I had a warmup dance and then Flowers of Edinburgh. Not much for a bit over an hour. So in the final consensus I would say I was too thorough, even painfully so.

The dances taught were:-

The Kissing Bridge  -  (32 R 3)  - Bk 47 (Butterfield)
Flowers of Edinburgh  -  (32 R 3)  -  Bk 1

Chase Court  -  (32 R 2)  - C. Ronald/Big Apple Coll.
Silver City Strathspey  -  (32 S 3)  -  Drewry
Bratach Bana  -  (32 R 3)  -  Drewry
Roselath Cross  -  (32 J 3)  -  Bk 41


Chase Court:- A nice little dance with Left and Rights (starting LH on the sides) into poussette. And right in keeping with the theme of the first half.

Silver City:- Prep for the upcoming Drewry Night hosted by the Brooklyn (NY) class. Question - why is it so difficult to get dancers to lead when in promenade hold. A good promenade hold and strong lead here really helps the 'outside' person get around the ends of the reel but so many dancers around here dance all scrunched up with their hands close to their chest. Looks ugly and dances ugly. And I know that the proper technique has been often mentioned in class. This is not news to the dancers despite what they say.

Bratach Bana:- Good music good dance. This one has a Golden Ghillie and deservedly so. Also on the Drewry Night program. And I don't care that it has been on the last four, or is it five, programs. This one doesn't get old. Two thumbs up!!

The Roselath Cross:- Sue said it was done just for fun. It was. A thumbs up.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

2 November 2015 – Scotia

I had intended to 'review' as many dances as I could. This program is supposed to be easy/familiar because the dances have been done repeatedly. This is the intent of the dance list in the first place. There shouldn't be the rank odor of ball prep around the classes at this late date.

It was ALL ball prep and has been for weeks.

Deborah taught the first (supposedly the teaching) hour.
I taught the second experienced/social hour and instead I taught!

The dances we taught were:

The Fairy Ring  -  (32 J n circle) - Boyd
Knit the Pocky  -  (32 R 2)  - Bk 11
Deil Amang the Tailors  -  (32 R 3)  -  Bk 14

Trip to Gatlinburg  -  (32 J 3)  - S. Tang
A Summer Meeting  -  (32 S 3 set)  -Bk 48
The White Heather Jig  -  (40 J 4)  -  Cosh
The Robertson Rant  -  (80 S 4 sq)  -  Bk 39

The ball is on Saturday November 7, 2015 - in two days. I will not be there but I will be done with this program and then… and then… it will be déjà vu all over again -  Ball Prep for the next event.(John Drewry Night in Brooklyn). Being Drewry specific this program is not taken from the dance list but many of the dances have now been repeated 5-6 years in a row. Sigh.

26 October 2015 – NHFM

Yikes what a night! -  I have a 10 years old in the class who is an absolute delight. She brought a friend who was not. One of my dancers, who raised four girls,  gave the young lady a strong rein check after the first dance.

The first two dances were for the new young lady. After the second dance I sat her down so I could reward the rest of the class with a dance for those who could. She watched for a while and then headed down stairs to join the quilters

Emma is ten going on twenty and for her, like myself and the rest of the class, it is about the dance. This lady was ten going on Look At Me.

I do not have children, I have no idea how one handles such a child so, after Pat corrected her, I ignored her antics and treated her just as I do Emma and the [other] adults. Young Miss was not amused, and did not return after she went downstairs. During the break I invited her back in, anytime.

The dance I sat her down for was Barry Priddey's Land of the Heather Hills - and it was something of a reteach. Too, there were a couple of dancers back after a long hiatus who had never seen this dance before but most of the set had. At least twice. It was almost new for them too. Oh well.

Again there was a good response - they gave it another Golden Ghillie Award (which are not cumulative).

The dances taught:-

Sky Top Jig  -  (32 J 2)  -  Houghton/Mohonk Dances
Mohonk Rant  -  (32 R 3 set)  -  Houghton/Mohonk Dances
Land of the Heather Hills  -  (32 S 4)  -  B. Priddey
Eggemoggin Reach  -  (32 J 3)  -  Price

Slow Simmer  -  (32 J 3)  - Stephens/StrathsBabes
Portland Mermaid  -  (32 S 3 set)  -  Price


Skytop Jig/Mohonk Rant :- Baby dances for first nighters and audience participation.

Land of the Heather Hills :- A lot of teaching but the result is worth it! I would put it on several party programs in a row and then semi regularly. It is that good.

Eggemoggin Reach :- My dance and, IMHO, one of my better ones. I just need to learn * how * to teach it. Since the dancers in my head have no problem with it nobody should… Riiiight!
In fact last month when I was ready to bag it (hour was late and minds were turning back into pumpkins) the dancers wanted to keep at it until they got it right. That is evidence it is a pretty good dance and so is the Golden Ghillie they awarded it.

The dance was written to The Penobscot Bay Jig, the last tune of a set by Peter Macfarlane and Lilian Linden on their self titled CD. (Invercauld 001).

Slow Simmer  :-  A jig by Pam Stephens. Nice, simple, fun, especially at a full boil.  Thumbs up.

Portland Mermaid :- Finally! I have been working on this dance for about 2 years and I finally found an acceptable solution that makes the dance work. Everything else I have tried has had problems, big ones, sometime terminal ones. Tested twice now and both classes have given it thumbs up.

Christopher smiled, and said I had written a dance with no major figures in it.  I am not sure I agree. Toubillion, to my mind is a major figure. Set and Link for 3, especially when split into separated halts is also major, to my mind. Oh well. He made me smile.

With this dance finally working I now have three mermaid dances and that means I have a set. So I am looking to publish - Real Soon Now. While looking for cover ideas I found a very nice <mermaid web site> and found several very nice ladies. This grouping spoke to me;


As did she.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

19 October 2015 – Scotia

The thrust of the last few weeks has been to prepare the class for the upcoming Jeannie Carmichael Ball (NY Branch), which irks me a bit because the NY Branch has a dance list, instituted for the express purpose of freeing the teachers from the tyranny of ball prep by ensuring that all the dances on the programs are familiar since they will repeat often. 

Sigh. We're still doing ball prep. Everywhere. Branch, Scotia, NJ, Westchester and all the teachers identify the same dances so we all teach the same dances over and over and over…   SIGH.

This week the prep dances are The Lady Wynd, The Captain's House, Cadgers in the Canongate, and The Belle of Bon Accord.

First hour:- 

The Lady Wynd  -  (32 J 3) - Goldring
The Captain's House  - (32 R 3)  - H. Boyd

Second hour:-

Mrs Stewart's Jig  - (32 J 3)  - Ligtmans
Cadgers in the Canongate  - (48 R 3)  - Bk 9
The Belle of Bon Accord  - (32 S 4)  - Drewry
Sleepy Maggie  - (32 R 3) -  Bk 11


The Lady Wynd :- It is on the program. It is a Goldring. Simple, social and getting tedious. Just too many times.

The Captain's House :- A nice find, nothing exotic but just enough different to keep the tedium away.
Thank you Holly.

Mrs Stewart's Jig :- Another recent addition to the good jig repertoire. Thank you. It keeps coming round because it works!

Cadgers in the Canongate :- I like this dance! I like the reels. I like that the first one puts you in partner's place and that 1C change roles and experience the other aspect of the reels. I do not want this dance fixed in any way. It isn't broken. I like that the directions I have (1953 edition) leave it all unsaid so that both the teachers and the dancers have the freedom to interpret it as they wish.

What I do not want is the reel to become rule bound and 'fixed' to match those in Tulloch Gorm.
Different interpretations of very similar figures leads to diversity and that keeps the dancing fun!
And isn't that why we do this - for fun?

Sleepy Maggie :- Hot! Hot! Hot! especially when danced to the music recorded (still the name tune) for The Black Leather Jig. 

12 October 2015 – Scotia

There isn't much to say about this evening's dances. Only that a golden oldie is coming back into fashion. Overdone to the point of burnout 15 years ago the old guard often forget the newer guard has never seen it. The dance -  Red House.

First hour :-

British Grenadiers  - (32 R 3) - Miscellany
Birks of Invermay  - (32 S 3) - Bk 16

Second hour:-

Welcome to Ayr  - (32 J 3) - Bk 47
Red House  - (40 R 2) - Bk 7
A Summer Meeting  - (32 S 3set) - Bk 48


British Grenadiers :- not a scintillating dance but the new music by Jim Lindsay (CD for Bk 49) is fun! It may not be your standard Scottish music but it is fun! A thumbs up.

Welcome to Ayr :- Just enough different to take some careful teaching. I was in a class where it was taught not so carefully and a number of minor points got missed. IMHO a most welcome addition to the RSCDS jig repertoire which, on the whole, is seriously lacking in good, fun, engaging jigs.

Red House :- Because the reels make the dance I taught this one. The reel first, walked for every couple several times so everyone got the reels from each and every position more than once - the rest of the dance is quite simple, almost simplistic. Unless you play.

We teach reels reels carefully - 6 bars, 8 bars, 4 bars half way etc, etc. This one's different. The phrasing can not be strict. It is a 10 bar movement danced in 8 bars so the phrasing must be fuzzy.  For 1st lady: About 2 bars to enter the reel, about 2 bars to dance home, leaving 4 or so bars to dance more than half a reel. Dancers just have to make it work. Theirs is the burden to make it flow.

Note- I love the dance, both for the music (I especially love the Berkeley Players recording) and for the reels which are unique. 

A Summer Meeting :- Yay! Finally, we have good old fashioned half reels of four with Left shoulder passes in the middle between reels. But…"Edinburgh, we have a problem here".

Right shoulder passes are all the modern rage, stemming from Mairi's Wedding, where dancers like to  pass right shoulders between the half diagonal reels of four. James Cosh objected, so I hear - I wasn't there so this is second hand - to this ornament and insisted that the passes ought to be by left shoulder.
So dancers play, pass by the right, and newer dancers see it, copy cat that and don't know any better, and slowly but surely the right shoulder pass becomes standard - especially since so many new dances have the right shoulder pass between the reels written in.

The result - even when the left shoulder pass IS specifically stated and emphatically so instructed, many dancers were passing right shoulders in these reels - they just couldn't help themselves. A case of muscle memory overriding the brain. 

Oh, the dance? I like it and I'm willing to dance it anytime it comes around. A Thumbs Up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

5 October 2015 - Scotia

This week was especially fun.

Deborah taught the first half and she does a darn good basics class. Last week she stressed handing. This week she stressed Pas de Basque and Poussette. There was mild skip change step practice followed by moderate Pas de Basque step practice leading into Poussette practice. And the improvement was noticeable!

 I taught the second half - one dance for everyone, and then just two others, but what others!

Back story on the one dance for everyone:
Once upon a time, back in the stone age, I used home made 3x5 cards with my own version of Pilling's diagrams. I would prepare a whole series: my want-to-do dances; the need-to-do dances; the go-to beginner dances; dances from up-coming programs; a group of surprise, extraordinary dances; etc. etc. 2 - 3 hundred cards/dances, all in a single file box. I would walk in, open the box, choose the evening's dances, spread them out on the table and, depending on who walked in door, pick out the dances I would teach. If I got surprises all I had to do was pull out the appropriate back up group, and go on from there. The system worked.

I can't do that now. Too many classes going at once, too many programs coming up, and the system that worked well for me for all these years has proven inadequate for the task. I needed a better way.

Hooray for Strathspey and the SCDDB! Those lists, those wonderful, printable, lists! In my computer bag I now have printed lists for the NY Dance List, the JC Ball, The Nutmeg Workshop, Drewry Night, and the Kilts and Ghillies Ball, as well as the list for tonight's class. And that list can be far larger than I could possibly teach in the evening. And the list is public so the dancer's can prep for the class. Many find the videos, when the dance has them, to be invaluable.

Mind you, I still bring my old card file. I still find it easier to teach off a 3x5 card with Pilling style diagrams than off the written word. What is in the file box now? A card for each of the dances on the NY Branch dance list,  both past and present; a group of beginner dances; a group of dances for small numbers (2somes, 3somes, 4omes and 5somes); and a group of maybe someday, current interest dances. The Old Way is still a good fall back position and I had a dance to hand when I decided to pull a switcheroo - drop Mole's Frolic for It's Nae Bother.

                           *                  *                *

The dances we taught this week:

The Ferryboat - (32 J n Circle) - C. Hunt
Blue Bonnets  - (32 J 2) -  Bk 3/5
Rakes of Glasgow  - (32 S 3) -  Bl 11/11
It's Nae Bother  - (32 J 2) -  Haynes
The Hamilton Rant  - (48 R 3) - Bk 22/2
Richard the Third  - (32 S 3) -  Glasspool

The dances were picked from this list : Scotia 5 October.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Ferryboat :- A  basic introductory circle dance that makes for a decent "lets walk it to get ourselves somewhat warmed up " dance. Good for newbies or audience participation

Blue Bonnets :- What does this dance have? A poussette… and the music.

Rakes of Glasgow :- When the dance is a strathspey and all you have is Rights&Lefts | down the middle and up | Allemande | and a circle, you better have really good music. I have three recordings for this dance and the two RSCDS tracks are… tedious. Luckily there is the old Berkeley Scottish Players' LP Heather and Yon. Really nice secondary tunes, all of them beautiful.

What Deborah stressed, as she did last week, was the handing aspects of the dance, especially the handing in the Rights & Lefts and the "assist" in the polite turn and the other ways to "help" other dancers. The NY Branch has been concerned about inappropriate assistance and has written a 'minute' which has been published on their web site. NY Branch Guidelines  More about this later in the post.

It's Nae Bother :- Switch dance - Deb worked on handing last week. I wasn't there for it as I was teaching a class in New Haven. So a dance that gives the dancers handing practice was a better choice than what I had originally planned. And a surprise for me - This time round I am finding the chase figures in this dance pleasing. Thumbs up.

The Hamilton Rant :- Twenty years ago we so over did this favourite we burned out on it. There are now many dancers who have never seen the dance. And most of the teachers, who burned out on the dance, look surprised when they hear that.

It has been chosen for the NY Branch's dance list. It is on the JC Ball program therefore it is on the prep list, and watching the joy of the dancers who are learning it brings me joy. Don't forget this one guys. The short form - *Thumbs Up*.

And now my rant:

Many dancers play. They like twirling out of Set To and Turn Corners. There are also some dancers who believe that they should be pro-active and assist dancers into polite turns and birls. I would go a little further and say some dancers like to be really helpful and actively assist dancers into polite turns and birls.

Doing that is neither helpful nor polite and can cause injury.

Case in point - I almost had my shoulder dislocated one evening when a teacher shoved me, make that SHOVED me, into a polite turn. I didn't need the hint, I knew the polite turn was coming and I wasn't expecting that degree of "assistance". I had to walk off the floor my shoulder hurt so, and I am no longer able to sleep on my side with that shoulder under me.

Truth in Scottish Country Dancing:

We are aging. We are getting fragile and we don't heal as quickly as we used to. Also, I have some  dancers who are in their nineties and getting hard of hearing, mildly forgetful, and unsteady on their feet. For them, what? A helpful Shove?  Seriously?  And if it is your habit to be proactive will you always remember to go gently? Yes some of us do need a reminder or an assist on occasion. But it needs to be gently done and that is what we need to be teaching but haven't been - gentle dancing even when in overdrive. And we should be teaching this to our beginners and reteaching to our experienced dancers!

The gentlest way to "assist" someone in a polite turn, or into a birl out of a turn, is to provide a firm and steady support. A passive support that is there IF NEEDED. It is the choice of the 'active' dancer to use or not use that hand. It is not for the supporting dancer to force a birl or a polite turn. Their job is to have their hand where it should be, firm and steady, and nothing more. A newer dancer may not have "gotten" the polite turn thing and not know how, or when, to do it. A hard shove does not a polite turn make, but a gentle coaching after the fact is more in keeping with that intent.

Enough. I am off my soap box now.

Richard the Third :- ** Two thumbs up.**  In my humble opinion this is one of the top strathspeys of all time. A fabulous dance!  First, Terry Glasspool messes with your mind by messing with the standard timing of the first figure. Then there is an unusual RHA for three into a circle back (to the right) into lines on the sides. The third figure develops a pulse and rhythm that I find deeply satisfying. I know I have taught this dance before and have raved about it. Go take a look in the archives.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

28 September 2015 - Dancing on the Heights (NHFM)

My monthly class at New Haven Friends Meeting in Fair Haven, on the heights, resumed after summer dancing.

Young Emma has returned and I am in conversation with her mother about a children's class. Talk about WAY outside my box!!

This class has always been advanced. I have pulled just about anything out of my back pocket and they have handled it. Emma, has danced a bit of Irish, walked right into the set and handled everything I have tossed at the class. I am not dumbing anything down. She doesn't [yet] have the style but she is a steel trap for the figures. I can only pray that the youngsters who will come to this young person's class will be half as good.

This night's dances were:-

Gloria's Wee Jig  - (32 J 2) - Devil's Quandary (McMurtry)
Capelthwaite  - (32 R 2) -  San Francisco 2 (Sigg)
MacDonald of Keppoch  -  (128 M 4 square) - Book 49 (Ronald)
The Gates of India  - (32 J 4 ) -  Jean Attwood
Richard the Third  - (32 S 3) - Terry Glasspool
Outward Bound  - (32 J 3 set ) - Price


Gloria's Wee Jig :-  A nice wee jig. Now on the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program as the second half opener. Like Dancing in the Streets it has a nice but different entry into Ladies Chain and the closing chase is sweet and tart at the same time. Deborah says I came up with it - I don't remember.
She then taught it and I fell for it. Note - I put it on a major program.  Can you say Thumbs up?

Capelthwaite :- This one is different and messed with my mind. Everything is twisted and not just a little bit. Only the Poussette was normal. This one is a yes, low key yes, but still a yes. Worth doing again simply to see if the dance holds up, gains ground or falls down.

MacDonald of Keppoch :- I like it. A lot. The parallel reels of 4 into singular Left shoulder reel of 4 is brilliant. That you dance with the same corners throughout isn't a problem here. In Bobby Brown's Canadian Breakdown it is a true problem. I don't think there is a more tedious dance ever devised. (Please don't try!)  IMHO MacDonald of Keppoch is one of the few medleys worth doing. 1314  and Schiehallion are the two others that come to mind. Oh right, and there is also Sage and Salsa (Jane Lataille) which is the only 32 bar medley I enjoy dancing. All the others have been thumbs downer.

So a challenge for you all - Change my mind! Write contrary comments (which I will publish) and give us some medleys that you think are worth doing. I will try them.

The Gates of India :- This one is interesting. It reads like it should be fabulous. It reads like it should be on a par with Falls of Rogie, one of the best dances I have ever come across. But, it hasn't danced that way. This was my second attempt at it.  It, well, it has underwhelmed me.
It could be the music I have picked. I will try again with different music and hope for better.

The only other Jean Attwood dance that is occasionally danced around here is Butterscotch and Honey, a 32 S 4. Nice but not great. So I have a question. Is Jean Attwood a one shot wonder? She has written over 100 dances. Surely there are other dances of hers that are fun, exciting, lovely, "fall in love with" great dances? Who has one of those?
Will you share? Please?

Richard the Third :- Another great (IMO) dance. To my mind the heart and soul of Terry's dance is the R&L figure that, with his choice of music, takes on a pulse of its own. The rest of the dance isn't bad either and I love dancing this one. It is back on the Kilts and Ghillies program by my personal popular request.

I haven't met a Terry Glasspool dance that I haven't liked. I love some! I hate none.
He is at least as good as John Drewry - certainly more daring and willing to take thing outside the box. He just doesn't have the 'weight' that John had in the SCD community. John wrote a lot of dances, Terry only a few. You have to really sift John's work to find the really good ones. Most of Terry's are that good, but not necessarily to every one's taste or ability.

Ball, workshop, evening dance - if it any of Terry Glasspool's dances are on the program I am interested in going.

Outward Bound :- One of mine. I seriously considered the other version (Eggemoggin Reach - 32 J 3 in a 4C set) for the opener of  the Kilts and Ghillies. Vetoed by Sandra my co-programmer. It took a while to find out why - the program was already reel heavy and her class, which has children, don't handle reels all that well. This dance has reels. Mirror reels - with the one's crossing to own sides after 4 bars, and then two sets of half reels of three across, the half reels followed by 4 bar turns.

I t was late, it was a newish dance for them, I thought. I was wrong. It was completely new to them because I don't see it listed in my notebook. They had some trouble with it. I was ready to drop it but they wanted to keep at it until they got. They did, they applauded. They actually liked it even after all they work they put in.

I did several other dances of mine over the summer with the New Haven class but I did not do this one with them. So they did better than I thought. Upgrade from a 72 to a gold star.

Note: Outward Bound is Eggemoggin Reach which has been slightly revised to make it danceable in a 3C set. The only difference- bars 3-4.

23 September 2015 – Westchester

Deborah and Charlotte 's  series.

Wacky Reels Night -

Walk around warm up to "Sleepwalking" by Mara Shea and Dave Wiesler.

Dances taught:-

The Fairy Ring - (32 J n Circle) - Ian Boyd
Cadgers in the Canongate - (48 R 3) - Bk 9/10
A Summer Meeting - (32 S 3 set) - Irene Townsend

Berwick Johnny - (32 J 3) - Graded
Strathglass House - (32 S 3) - Bk 13
The Royal Deeside Railway - (32 R 3) - Bk 40/9
Red House - (40 R 2) - Bk 7/2


The Fairy Ring :- See previous post.

Cadgers in the Canongate :- Good Music. Often great music. I love the reels. I like that they are serious misinterpretations (IMHO) of the original intent. I like that the reels are *parallel* crossover (Rshoulder) reels on opposite sides that end in partner's place and that, in the second reel, 1C switch roles/tracks to end home.

I do NOT like the prevalent idea that we need to make rules upon rules and that all of these funky, wacky, parallel reels need to be danced the same way so lets fix the dances even if they aren't broke! Agendas over common sense.

I DO like the idea of diversity, of having some freedom of interpretation inwith the basic rule bound framework of Miss Milligan's style of Scottish dancing. My 'original' (1953 edition) of Book 9 says nothing about how or where you end the reels. It leaves it up to the teacher and/or the dancers.

The reality is many young (read 'new') teachers don't have the money to buy the latest and greatest re-revised dance books. They usually get theirs passed on from the teachers who never updated their collection to the newest versions and are retiring. So the unrevised versions are out there and are going to be for quite some time to come. And there is going to be a long time conflict of differing versions.

When in Rome do like the Romans? In other words - Teach dancers the building blocks so they can dance to the briefing they are given, even if different from what they are used to. (Good luck).

A Summer Meeting :- Yes. This one. It is good. A simple minor 'tweak' of the standard fundamental reel of four. And so satisfying. Thumbs up Irene!

Half reels of four (with rotation), a poussette right round, and a bourrel. And that latter figure is the one that blew minds through out the room. It is not like they have never seen the figure before. It is not new to them. They love Barbara's Strathsepey (with a 3C bourrel). Can do it just fine. But tonight… a disaster. Sigh.

Berwick Johnny :- Boring. Tedious. Just my opinion of course. Truthfully it has been used for years, it is accessible to every one, it is available, and that much usage means it has real value.

Strathglass House :- the music makes the dance!

The Royal Deeside Railway :- Truthfully, the first several times I danced it I didn't like it. Too much fuzzy (fussy) timing too hard to describe so best not dealt with. Recently though I am finding I like it. If you don't try to specify the timing to the dancers they will just figure it out on their own and usually with out over thinking it. Parsing - It is a skill and it needs to be learned.

Red House :- Good dance. all the rage when I started dancing (in the stone age). Over done so it disappeared and I am glad it is beginning to make a come back in this area. The iconic recording (the one I learned the dance to, of course ;-)  ) is The Berkeley Scottish Player's version (Cabbage Records ). The other versions that I have heard have been decent, but their version seems to be inspired. The sound is, of course, very West Coast, and fiddle heavy but then I have always preferred fiddle to heavy handed accordion.

And to get back to the evening's them (reels, right) the Red House Reels are unique and lots, repeat lots, of fun, and I would love to do them more but would hate to burn out on the dance a second time. The 25 year hiatus was just too long. Too, I am not sure I would care to have other dances with the same reels. The music and dance are inseparable and I think the reels and the dance may also be inseparable. Darn ;-(

21 September 2015 - Scotia

Deborah taught the first hour, I taught the second hour.

The dances we taught:-

The Fairy Ring - (32 J n Circle) - Ian Boyd
Basic Knitting - (32 R 3) - Iachini
Braes of Breadalbane - (32 S 3) - Bk 21
Deil Amang the Tailors - (32 R 3) - Bk 14
_ _ _ _

The Cup -of-Gold Vine - (32 J 3) - C. Sigg
Dragonflies - (32 S 5some) - J. Lataille
Dancing in the Streets - (32 R 2) - Frans Ligtmans
Many Happy Returns - (32 S 3) - Briscoe
Arthur's Seat - (32 R 3) - 18C


The Fairy Ring :- very basic, almost a throwaway dance, but a good warm up for brains and feet. It gets you into the swing of things very gently. Good to have in your hip pocket as one of your "go-to" dances, and we all have them.

Basic Knitting :- One of Deborah's favorites. She is a knitter, spinner and weaver and this fits the theme. There is nothing in this dance of any complexity. Crossings and some casting is basically it, oh, and a back-to-back followed by lead up and cast. So what makes this one of the ugliest dances I have ever seen? Why the fact that very, repeat very, few dancers can 'stay in the dance' for even 32-bars. At any one point one (or more) couples have forgotten to start, or which hand to cross with, or which shoulder to cross by. A humbling experience for sure. We all have know-it-alls in our class. This dance will take them down a notch or two especially if the really basic nature of the dance is emphasized. Dance.

Braes of Breadalbane :- Its been years since I have danced this one. It used to be a regular on the area ball programs but it has a "knot", a difficult piece in it, that isn't all that rewarding. I think that is why it has slipped in popularity shall we say. The music is darn nice but not good enough to keep the dance dancing. Good to see it back but my legs have deteriorated enough that it is now hard work to nail the cast back and RH turn.

Deil Amang the Tailors :- Always fun. To a point.  But for some of us (myself and a few other dance monsters) same old same old, over and over and over… gets old. And the dance list (NY's version anyway) is too large, and there are too few groups inwith to really support the idea and nobody outwith the NY Branch has bought into the idea. There are no monthly social parties as in San Francisco; a third of the dances removed/replaced yearly; and we are still teaching to the upcoming events. The newest additions aren't taught unless they are on upcoming events. There are only 4 session parties and 2 balls by the NY Branch. But there are also the Boat Basin and Rerr Terr (NJ events) Drewry Night, New Haven Ball, Kilts and Ghillies Ball, Boston Ball, Del. Valley Ball, three, count them, three Hogmanay's,and NY's is aimed at ceilidh dancers to bring in new dancers to the country style. So when do we the teachers have a chance to teach the newest list dances so that they are familiar, no sweat, dances on a ball? The reality is: We are always teaching to a Ball prep or two.

And this was our attempt to break out of the "tyranny of Ball prep". Rethink, you think?
Is there another approach? Anyone?

The Cup-of-Gold Vine :- My choice for a ball opener. Simple, no setting, no slip step (very important that is). Thoughtfully engaging? Not really, but it is not a throwaway. In the two beta 'tests' I ran I got some positive responses. It works for what I want it to do. Thumbs up for a warm up.

Dragonflies :-  I love this dance! It is one of my top ten dances of all time.  I use Susie Petrov's  5x32 Strathspey set from her LP "Hold the Lass Till I get Her". It fits! The dance is becoming popular and I am now getting requests for it from the floor when serious dancing is over and we have time for a "fun" dance. I believe that this dance is good enough to become part of the standard repertoire.

Help me Make it So.

If you wish to purchase the book - Always Enough to Dance -
contact the Santa Fe class through Deborah Dennison at:   d.a.i.d@worldnet.att.net

Dancing In the Streets :- I do not own a copy of this nice but simple dance by Frans Ligtmans. It is not listed on the SCDDB on Strathspey.

I am teaching off the cribs set out by the Nutmeg Workshop teachers.  I LIKE the entry into the Ladies Chain. I LIKE the closing chase that gets 1C into progressed place proper. This wee dance gets "only" two thumbs up because I only have two thumbs to give.  A lovely surprise.
** Recommended **

Does anyone have a copy of the original they could send me? Please oh pretty please?

Many Happy Returns :- A Mel Briscoe production. It is a nice dance and there is a wonderful recording to dance it to. Thumbs up!

Arthur's Seat :- Music by Dave Wiesler and Hanneke Cassel - Fabulous! Can we do it again?? Can we?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

19 September 2015 - Alpine Boat Basin Dance

A picnic lunch and then dancing, a wood floored pavilion covered from the weather, which was fabulous, with the Hudson River a hundred feet away. Lovely, simply lovely. And the program was good too.

Jubilee Jig
Falls of Rogie
Asilomar Romantic
Flowers of Edinburgh
Pelorus Jack
Delvine Side
Mole's Frolic
Reel of the Royal Scots

Machine Without Horses
The White Cockade
John McAlpin
Quarries' Jig
Minister on the Loch
The Sailor
Ann of Scotia
Deil Amang the Tailors

There was a complaint - The Reel of the Royal Scots and Machine Without Horses have track figures that are essentially identical but in differing orientations. Hmmm. True and I had never realized it.
A superb first effort from two of our new teachers: Elizabeth and Ken.

16 September 2015 - Westchester

Teachers:- Deborah and Charlotte

Dances Taught:-

Bramble Circle - (32 J n Circle) - Vandegrift; Lets All Dance
Quarries' Jig - (32 J 3) - Smith; Bk36
Miss Gibson's Strathspey - (32 S 3) - Leaflets
Orpington Caledonians - (32 R 3) - Bk 49
Ann of Scotia - (32 S 3) - Ronald; Worldwide Weavings
Gloria's Wee Jig - (32 J 3) - McMurtry; Devil's Quandry


Bramble Circle:- reasonable wee dance. Good warmup.

Quarries' Jig:- I like! It rewards good dancers and good dancing.

Miss Gibson's:- a standard.

Orpington Caledonians:- This one will brcome a standard in my humble opinion. Simple, flowing, and still satisfying.

Ann of Scotia:- I have said it before - superb. Two thumbs up.

Gloria's Wee Jig:- Again, and it still makes me smile. The ending chase is just a wee bit of genius. And it is now on the latest short list for the upcoming Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

14 September 2015 – Scotia (NYC)

This is a class that brings a huge grin to my face every time the dancers walk in. New Haven too.
They are the joy of a teacher's life and the reward for all our work.

Deborah taught the first, basics, hour. I taught the second, experienced, hour.

We had a beginner. An absolute beginner. Never saw Scottish before and we just tossed her in to the deep end, from the 3 meter platform. She handled/coped with everything! Even the strathspey poussette. OMG. I want her back. This woman is a gift. And she can only come one more week before work gets in the way.  Bad words bad words bad words.
But she left saying her cheeks hurt from all the smiling. Yay!

The dances we taught were:-

Gloria's Wee Jig  – (32 J 3) – McMurtry
White Cockade  – (32 R 3) – 5/11
Machine Without Horses – (32 J 3) – 12/12

Mole's Frolic – (32 J 3) – Winter
Midsummer Common – (32 S 3) – 49/3
Courtney Jane – (32 J 3 set) – Henry
Falls of Rogie – (32 R 3) – Tattooed
Marie's Farewell – (32 J 3) – JBD


Gloria's Wee Jig :- Deborah says I dug this one up. I don't remember  it. But we have it and it fills a need and It Is Good!  A slightly different set up for the Ladies Chain, and the final chase is a gem. The opportunities for eye contact and play…  Two Thumbs Up!! Now on my top 50 list.

White Cockade/Machine Without Horses :- standards for good reason.

Mole's Frolic:- Good solid dance. I can also add, fun. Winds you up and then unwinds you. A Thumbs Up. Becoming a standard in this area.

Midsummer Common :- This one is going to be a regular. Need an adjective? Try "Elegant".

Courtney Jane :- Sigh. I added this one at the last moment. I needed to see it. Another teacher, collaborating with me on a dance program, is wedded to this dance, which I don't know. My reading of the dance is 'decent, but nothing special'. She obviously feels it is something special. It keeps reappearing on her versions of the program after I remove it from mine.

This means Test Time - I need to see if there really is redeeming social value to the dance that I am not seeing.

There isn't.

It is a quirky, tricky little dance. You need to work at it to get it right and while there is satisfaction in [finally] getting it right, it is not enough to make it worth the effort. - My Not So Humble Opinion.

In the New England Contra world there is a category of dance called "Little Stinkers". This is one so belongs. Sometimes the little stinkers are worth it and the reward is greater than the energy expended. Not this time.

Falls of Rogie :- Another dance that is a regular in this area. If this is not so in your area you need to change it. This is a good dance. Two thumbs up.

The only question is - why is this the only one of Jean Attwood's dances that has made the big time? Have we all stopped looking after we found this gem in her first book?

Marie's Farewell :- I remember teaching a dance of this name, by this devisor, many years ago when I lived in New Haven, and we had a dancer named Marie. I do not remember this dance. Faulty memory no doubt about it.  Nice dance, but not a Pinewoods Reel. Good dance to have up your sleeve. And closing reels ACROSS the dance! Don't rely on muscle memory - you will be in big trouble.  Just different enough, and fun enough, to get a Thumbs up.

8 September 2015 – Ho Ho Kus (NJ)

The first class of the new season - Liz and Elizabeth taking the teaching duties.

The dances taught were:-

Ann of Scotia – (32 S 3) – World Wide Weavings (Ronald)
Reel of the Royal Scots – (32 R 3) – Goldring
Flora's Fancy – (32 J 3) – 49/8

The Dhoon – (32 J 4) - Children's Book
Bobby Brown's Canadian Breakdown – (32 R 3 sq)  – Millar
Mole's Frolic – (32 J 3) – Dunsmuir Dances (T. Winter)


Ann of Scotia :- In my top 50. Scrumptious dance IMHO. The only complaint I have heard, and this second or third hand, is great dance up until the last four bars. I disagree. The 2hand turn once round at the end can be VERY intimate if done with the proper mind set and is in keeping with the flirtatious intent of the dance. Ann was and still is a flirt and dancing with her is great fun. And
she got her man!

Reel of the Royal Scots:- What can I say? It is a classic, and always will be.

Flora's Fancy :- This one is interesting. My spies on the dance floor say the flow for 1st couple is fantastic. Not so great for 2nd and 3rd couples. So I took it off the Kilts and Ghillies program short list, but there is the thought that dancing it once uncovers the difficult bits and dancing it again allows you to anticipate and adjust as necessary. Worth another dancing.

The Dhoon/Bobby Brown's Canadian Breakdown:- Every teacher has a number of "Oh crap, what do I do now" emergency go-to dances. These are one teacher's. Conversely, every dancer has a list of "Yikes, I need to find a rest room, right now" dances. These two are on my list. My personal opinion of these dances, having danced them once too many times, is… tedious. In the extreme. Oh well. I am sure that my fall back, safety net, dances have to be getting old for some of the dancers.

I have noticed that when I point a finger there are three fingers pointed back at me.

Mole's Frolic:- I like this one. It caught my attention on the first reading, It looked like a gift from Heaven, a fabulous program opener. Yeah, Right.  Good, actually very good, but maybe not the gem of an opener I thought. Too energetic with not enough down time. All dancers moving most of the time. What I call a "huff and puffer". Still, worth it.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

24 August 2015 - Scotia End of Summer Dance

Well I am posting out of order again. Oh well, just live with  it if you can.

Scotia had an of Summer Dance party, with live music (Genny Vaughn -piano and Julia Hartman - violin) in honor of three teachers, the late Joan Treble, Shiela Wilson and Freddy Sverdlove. The dances sere all written by them, for them,  a favorite of one of them or first learned from one of them. In other words a thematic  program. So there were minor problems. A few too many 40 or 48 bar dances and sometimes one right next to another- Oh well.

The music was pretty darn good. Even with a occasionally functional sound system they had a decent balance. I do have a complaint, a relatively mild complaint. The tempos varied a bit. In Cadgers the tempo varied within some of the tunes, in a couple of strathspeys the tempo varied as the tunes changed. But not by much. It was always danceable. and only a few people even noticed. Thumbs up for this combo. I'd gladly hire them.


Jubilee Jig  – (32 J 3) – Leaflet 11
Ferguson's Frolic  – (32 R 3) – J. Treble
A Strathspey for Shelley  – (32 S 3 set) – F. Sverdlove
Cadgers in the Canongate  – (48 R 3) – Bk 9
Sandy Butterly  – (48 J 4) – M.S. Brandon
Birks of Invermay  – (32 S 3) – Bk 16
Blooms of Bon Accord  – (32 R 4) – Drewry

Alice's Request  – (32 J 2) – Goldring
The Professor's Wife  – (32 R 3) – N. Pryce
Drumrossie  – (32 S 3) – S. Wilson
Peat Fire Flame  – (40 R 3) – Drewry
Auld Springs Gees Nae Price  –  (32 S 3) – J. Treble
Roaring Jelly  – (32 J 3) – Foss
Mairi's Wedding  – (40 R 3) – Cosh

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

25 August 2015 – Summer Dance New Haven

Well, the last class of the summer is done and with it my chance to experiment with new dances.
It was a mix of the old and the new and the so new it's untried.

Dances taught:

The Pawling Mermaid  -  (32 J 3)  - Price
Orpington Caledonians  -  (32 R 3)  - Bk 49/2
Richard the Third  -  (32 S 3)  - Glasspool
Hunter's Moon  -  (32 J 4)  -  Drewry
Land of the Heather Hills  -  (32 S 4)  - Priddey
Red House  -  (40 R 2)  - Bk 7/2
Woodland Assembly  -  (64 J 4 square)  - Priddey


The Pawling Mermaid :- Another Beta Test of an untried dance.  It worked, received reasonably good reviews from the dancers on the floor. That makes it two out of three. Now I just need to get the strathspey to work and I will have a set of Mermaid dances.

Orpington Caledonians :-  A repeat from last week, a check to be sure that I wasn't off my rocker. I wasn't. Still simple, easy and nice. Definitely worth short listing for the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance in May of next year.

Richard the Third :- I last taught this dance in 2009 as it was on that year's Kilts and Ghillies dance. My memory, 6 years out from the date, is that it is a good dance. To my mind it deserves a Golden Ghillie. It didn't get one. But it is [still] loverly. Still on my to 10 list.

Hunter's Moon :- Quicktime La Baratte. Into prom. hold into Bees of Maggieknockater reels. Nice.
Sandra suggested it for the K&G. I had to see it. Shades of several other John Drewry's dances. A bit of Bees, a bit of Blooms, a bit of ...

The one quirky bit is the exit from La Barratte (a left hand turn) into promenade hold - 2M with 3L (2L with 3M) - the lady is on the man's right and that, naturally, is where his attention goes - to his right, so that has to be the way the reel starts, to his right, right?

Wrong! - the reel has a left shoulder start. I can almost hear John up there snickering a quiet "Gotcha" - as if he ever would.

Land of the Heather Hills :- a repeat from 2 weeks ago. Some new dancers so a bit more teaching than I had hoped just before the break. But again a very positive response.  Still a keeper.

Red House :- A golden oldie that has come around to being new again for the current generation of dancers. Me, I am still jaded from the last round, but Deborah has only danced it once before and needs to really know it if she is going to be prepping classes for NY's JC Ball.

We talked it over on the way home and cleared up one "issue" for me. I had not realized that the Rd House reels are really 10 bar figures danced to an eight bar phrase.

For example: 2nd man (in the middle of the reel) has to dance a complete reel and pass 1st man one more time - a 8 bar reel plus an extra pass. 1st man, similarly, dances a full reel and then an extra pass to end in 2nd place. 1st lady, has 2 bars to cross down - dances out & up, dances in & up, dances out & down to 2nd place, and then needs 2 bars to cross back to her own sides - a 10 bar movement that has to be danced in an 8 bar phrase of music. And we wonder why this is so hard to teach.

Woodland Assembly :- The is a problem here. What I have written down as the directions for the last 8 bars doesn't work. My crib says RH turn, then LH turn. The flow of the dance clearly asks for LH turn followed by a RH Turn. Barry Priddey wouldn't make that kind of mistake so the error is probably mine. I need to go back and check my card against the original.

Barry wrote this after several people complained that the song "Teddy Bear's Picnic" didn't have its own dance. Not bad but not his best effort. I will probably keep this in my card file for a specialty moment or for a children's or beginner's class.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

18 August 2015 - Summer Dance New Haven

I have now taught four dances from the RSCDS's latest publication (Book 49) and gotten 3 raves from the dancers. I am thinking that this is going to be a very, repeat very, successful book.

I taught MacDonald of Keppoch last week because I know the devisor, it was fresh in my head - his wife taught it recently at the Scotia club (NYC). Tonight's three dances were numbers 2, 3, and 4. I did not cherry pick them - and if the rest of them come close to these in quality the selection process was a success this time round.

The other piece of this is the music. The recording for Book 48 is, to be blunt, terrible. This one, Book 49, is wonderful. Jim Lindsay's accordion playing is enough to make me reconsider my prejudice for fiddles. His recordings with Muriel Johnstone and Keith Smith are stunning. This one - merely super. And he is clearly having a whole lot of fun! (Against all society rules of course).
But the joy comes across and it is very refreshing. I don't know who all were involved in making this CD happen, but to all of you - Thank You, many times over.

He has also included tracks for 3 older dances - Hooper's JigBritish Grenadier'sBonnie Geordie's Wig. And the latter two qualify as "any good reel" and I am using them as such. When I use them I hear whoops and hollers and see smiles break out all over the floor. - The short form - Recommended.

The dances taught :-

The Four Poster  -  (32 S 4some)  - Glasspool
Orpington Caledonians  -  (32 R 3)  - Bk 49/2
Midsummer Common  -  (32 S 3)  -  Bk 49/3
The First Rain in Spring  -   (32 J 3 set)  - Bk 49/4
Kiloran Bay  -  (32 S 4)  -  Johnston
Arthur's Seat  -  (32 R 3)  - 18C


The Four Poster :- I could have/should have picked an easier one of Terry's foursomes. Took a little longer than I had planned - I forgot - it has been a while since I last taught this one. It takes some work but I like the interlocking Back to Backs, and the Back to Back Half reel of four.

Orpington Caledonians :- Simple, flows, rewarding. Received a Golden Ghillie from the dancers! I have short listed it for the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance coming up in May 2016. Two thumbs up from me as well (because I only have two). A keeper.

Midsummer Common :- Not a Golden Ghillie but darn close. "Elegant" is the adjective the class agreed on. I could not agree more. Another keeper!

The First Rain in Spring :- Difficult because I fell into the trap of knowing too much. I know "Celtic" reels. I have a gift for patterns and sometimes, like here, I forget others don't see patterns as easily or as clearly. I will teach it again next week.

Kiloran Bay :-  I saw the name, I saw the video, I saw the 1947 movie "I Know Where I am Going". I couldn't resist because of what they had in common. The doing wasn't as spectacular as the video made it seem, but the dancer's liked it well enough.

Arthur's Seat :- The music makes the dance and the music was Hanneke Cassel and Dave Wiesler. OH MY!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

11 August 2015 - Summer Dance in New Haven

Dances taught:–

The Domino Five  -  (32 R 5some) - Haynes
MacDonald of Keppoch  -  (128 M 4 sq) - Ronald /Book 49
Grandma's Mandolin  -  (32 S 3)  -  Ellen Ternes
Palisades Mermaid  -  (32 R 3)  - Price
Land of the Heather Hills  -  (32 S 4)  -  Priddey
Skimming the Waves  -  (32 R 3)  -Pam  Stephens


The Domino Five :–  Why? Because we only had five dancers when it was time to start. Nice dance but  only fun occassionally - gets old quickly.

MacDonald of Keppoch :– Devised by our own Chris Ronald (NYC) and publish by the RSCDS in Book 49. Rave, rave, rave...  and not because it politic but because the dance is good. It has a most interesting transition from parallel reels4 across to a singular left shoulder reel4 on the centerline - middle dancers (ladies) passing Rsh to begin while men loop L on the ends. The less you think about it the better the transition works. Seriously.

And, to my surprise and gratification, the Society picked good tunes, or Jim Lindsay (who did the CD) picked good tunes - but it is a good CD, for a change, and the music works with the dance and all in all... YAY! (Did I say recommended?).

Grandma's Mandolin :– Ellen Ternes and Pam Stephens (Maryland, DC, Northern VA and area) have published a neat book of 12 dances titled Strathsbabes, featuring a Scottish dance Babe of the Month and a corresponding dance. Miss Milligan is, of course, Miss January. Makes me smile!

At Pinewoods Scottish Session Deborah poked me to get my attention, shoved the book into my hands, and said "Buy It!" So I did. Yay! (Have I said that before?). I know I will be looking here for program dances in the future.


The Palisades Mermaid :– Beta Test. 2nd time as good as the first and the 2nd time reviews were also good, and what was neat, the Mermaid in question (Sarah) was not only there but passed approval before she knew the dance was about her. (In May she joined the Pawling Mermaid in Sylvan Lake for some good, even though it is officially verboten, swims - so, obviously, she needed a dance too).

Land of the Heather Hills :– A repeat from last week because we needed to. I got the basic idea across but we needed this second take to really solidify it and smooth out the kinks. This is not just one of the top50 it is one of the top10.

Skimming the Waves :– from Strathbabes, by Pam Stephens. Different. It has more than enough redeeming social value to make it a keeper. Thumbs up.

4 August 2015 - Summer Dance in New Haven

I taught:–

Mrs Stewart's Jig
The Palisades Mermaid  -  (32 R 3)  -  Price
Land of the Heather Hills  -  (32 S 4)  -  Priddey
Chatham Chase  -  (32 J 3)  -  Hanson

Flyping Out of Portland  -  (32 J 3)  -  Price
Asilomar Romantic  -  (32 S 3)  - Cuthbertson
Da Rain Dancin'  -  (32 R 3)  - Wallace


Mrs Stewart's Jig :– Standard Repertoire, good warm up. A favorite for good reason - I have danced/taught it often and it just seems to stay fresh.

The Palisades Mermaid :– A recent dance of my own,  in it's first dance trial, and I got a positive response. Not a Golden Ghillie, but "nice dance with good flow" - and that is good enough. I was aced to be sure to remind dancers (in the cribs) that the reels of 4 are full, 8 bar reels of 4. Really! There was a tendency for dancers to flip into "Mairi's Wedding Reels" mode and that got them into difficulty. Still editing and music selection to do so publication will be… Real Soon Now.
There really is something to be said for KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid!) - My first version went to 40 bars and worked but would clearly, from current perspective, not have been worth the effort.

Land of the Heather Hills :– OH MY! What a great dance this one is! When I saw the video it took me an hour to get my jaw off the ground.  It is just enough different that getting the pattern across to the dancers took a bit more effort than is usual. The Social Value way outweighs the energy expended to learn it. It will take a while but this is going on the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program in a year or so. I'd give it four thumbs up … if I had four thumbs.

Chatham Chase :– A dance from my friend Lou Hanson, it did not receive rave reviews, but it wasn't given any thumbs down either. I like what she does here (A Book of Many Thanks), written while in grad school while being slight off her rocker - grad school does that to you - and writing this book of dances served as a sanity check for her. Worth looking into (MHO).

Flyping Out of Portland :– a sanity check for me after taking Unit 2 (dance exam) of the Teacher Candidate course at TAC, in Portland, in 2012. One of the young ladies from Texas, commenting on the last four bars of Miss Hadden's Reel (the casting progression) and our difficulty in briefing cleanly said

"It's a 'flipe'"
A What?
 A Flipe! It is the descriptive word for turning your socks or hose inside out when putting them on or taking them off. "

Ok… So flipe it became, and the class then wrote a book of "Flype" dances and because I wrote it  a bit later this one didn't make it in.

Note - My flight out of Portland was at 10pm - so my original title was The Red Eye Special.

Asilomar Romantic :–  One of my top 10 strathspeys - especially when danced to the recording made by Reel of Seven! Oh that oboe! Get their CDs - the music is magnificent.

Da Rain Dancin' :– Another of my favorites, written by one of my favorite teachers and just plain great guy, Ron Wallace. And I haven't met a recording for this dance that I haven't liked.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

3 August 2015 - Summer Dance Scotia (NYC)

Session by Deborah Leary and Peter Price

The Border Meeting -
The Sailor  -  (32 H 3)  -  Bk 14
Sands of Morar  -  (32 S 3)  - Priddey
Trip to Gatlinburg  -  (32 J 3)  - Tang
Flowers of Edinburgh   -  (32 R 3)  -

Back to Back  -  (32 J 3)  -  Glasspool
Asilomar Romantic  -  (32 S 3)  -  Cuthbertson
Catch the Wind  -  (32 H 3)  - Butterfield
Delvine Side  -  (32 S 3)  - Bk 2
Montgomeries' Rant  -  (32 R 3)  -  Bk 10

28 July 2015 - NJ Summer Dance in Ho Ho Kus

Session by George Thomson (from New Haven, CT)

Star Trek warmup
The Happy Meeting  -  (32 J 2) - Bk 29
The Falls of Rogie  -  (32 R 3)  - Attwood
John McAlpin  -  (32 S 3 )  -  Foss
Catrionna's Rambles  -  (medley)  - Thomson
Postie's Jig  -  (32 J 4)  -  Clowes
Hana Strathspey  -  (32 S 3)  - Gray
Jubilee Jig  -  (32 J 3) -  Leaflet
Minister on the Loch  -  (32 S 3set)  -  Goldring

27 July 2015 - Scotia (NYC)

Joint session -  Deborah Leary and Peter Price

Machine without Horses  -  (32 J 3)  -  Bk 12
Westminster Reel  -  (32 R 2)  -  Bk 45
Ferrymead  -  (32 S 3)  -  Walker
The White Cockade  -  (32 R 3)  -  Bk 5

Carols a Plenty  -  (32 J 3)  -  Hanson
Neidpath Castle  -  (32 S 3set)  -  Bk 22
Liquid Assets  -  (32 J 3)  - Drewry
Deil Amang the Tailors  -  (32 R 3)  - Bk14

7 July 2015 - NJ Summer Dance in Ho Ho Kus

Session by Deborah Leary & Peter Price

Trip to Gretna Green  -  (32 J 3)  -  unknown
Bedrule  -  (32 S 3)  - Bk 33
Inchmickery  -  (32 J 5)  -  Goldring
The Captain's House  -  (32 R 3)  -  H. Boyd
Castle Douglas  -  (32 S 3)  -  Goldring
Mole's Frolic  -  (32 J 3)  -  Winter

The Reverend John Macfarlane  -  (32 R 4)  -  Bk 37
A Summer Meeting  -  (32 S 3)  -  Bk 48
Deil Amang the Tailors  -  (32 R 3 )  -  Bk 14

30 June 2015 - NJ Summer Dance in Ho Ho Kus

Session by Liz Burns-

Black Donald  -  (32 J 2)  - Haynes
Many Happy Returns  -  (32 S 3)  - Briscoe
Burns Night  -  (32 J 2)  - Boston 50th
Solway Reel  -  (48 R 4)  -  Killeen

Fair Donald  -  (32 S 3)  -  Bk 29
Mauchline Lady  - (32 R 3)  -  Wolf
Mairi's Wedding  -  (40 R 3)  -  Cosh

27 May 2015 - Westchester - End of Season Party

Cutty Sark                      32 J 3
John McAlpin                32 S 3
The Button Boy             32 H 3
Pelorus Jack                   32 J 3
The Border Weavers      32 S 3 set
Mrs MacLeod                32 R 3

The Compleat Gardener  32 J 3
Ann of Scotia                   32 S 3
Deil Amang the Tailors    32 R 3

26 May 2015 - Tenafly - End of Season party

The Program:–

Trip to Gretna Green     32 J 3
Argyll Strathspey          32 S 3
The Sailor                     32 H 3
The Cranberry Tart       32 J 3
The Gentleman             32 S 3
The Captain's House     32 R 3

Joie de Vivre                  32 J 3
New Abbey                    32 S 2
Falls of Rogie                 32 R 3
Christine M Phillips      32 J 3
Asilomar Romantic       32 S 3
General Stuart's Reel     32 R 3

20 May 2015 - Westchester

Cutty Sark  -  (32 J 3) -
Cardross House  -  (32 S 3)  - Brunken
Quarries' Jig  -  (32 J 3)  - Smith

Argyll's Fancy  -  (48 J 4) - Graded Bk
Sleepy Maggie  -  (32 R 3) -


Cardross House - ** This one is special! **  The music makes the dance (and it didn't need any help), and oh the music is fabulous! 2 traditional tunes interleaved with 2 modern compositions. MCunningham). The musicians- Muriel, Keith and Jim Lindsay. And they (and the tunes) are a sublime match.

9 May 2015 - Tenafly (NJ)

Dances taught:–

Findlays' Jig  -  (32 J 3)  - Goldring
Kendall's Hornpipe  -  (32 J 2) -
Tambourine  -  (32 R 3)  -
Joie de Vivre  -  (32 J 3)  -
The Button Boy  - (32 H 3)  - Zobel


The Button Boy - nice dance nice music!

13 May 2015 - Westchester

Dances taught:-

Dragonflies  -  (32 S 5some)  - Lataille
Follow Me Home  -  (32 J 3)  -
Bedrule  -  (32 S 3)  -
Mason's Apron  -  (32 R 3)  - Border Bk

Tambourine  - (32 R 3)  -
Joie de Vivre  -  (32 J 3)  -
Seann Triubhas Willichan  -  (32 S 2)  -


Dragonflies:– I do this to the recording by Susie Petrov and her old band Local Hero - OH MY! Good music and a good fit. The name tune of the set is Hamish Henderson's Refusal and the album is Hold the Lass till I get Her".

6 May 2015 - Westchester

Beyond the Black Stump  - (40 J circle) - Gradon
The Captain's House  - (32 R 3) - H. Boyd
Outward Bound  -  (32 J 3set) -  Price

Machine Without Horses  -  (32 J 3)  -
Asilomar Romantic  - (32 S 3)  - Cuthbertson
Cranberry Tart  - (32 J 3)  - Glasspool


The Captain's House:- A nice dance.  On the NY Branch's dance list and on the upcoming Pawling Weekend program.

Outward Bound:- a dance I wrote to the Peter Macfarlane and Lilian Linden's set of (North Country) jigs. And then revised from a 3C dance to a dance for 3Cs in a 3C set. It needs a lot of editing before publishing. The Maine Outward Bound program (which I attended in my youth) is based on Hurricane Island in the Penobscot Bay - the name of the 4th tune in the set.

I got a thumbs up from the dancers so it may be published - Real Soon Now.

Asilomar Romantic:- One of my long time favourites which I learned as Rose and Woodbine. Now there is a recording by Reel of Seven that will knock your socks off!!

Cranberry Tart:- Another favourite of mine. Thank you Terry Glasspool!

29 April 2015 - Westchester

Down Under - (32 J  3) - Boehmer
Spiffin'  (32 J 5) - by committee
Meeting of the Waters  - (48 R 3) - Boyd
Beauty of the North - (32 S 3) - Boyd
Trip to Gretna Green  - (32 J 3) - unknown
Sugar Candie  - (32 S 3) - Bk 26


Again - basic warm-upper dance followed by ball prep.

22 April 2015 - Westchester

Dances taught:

The Ferryboat  (32 J lrg circle)  C. Hunt
Quarries' Jig  (32 J 3)  Bk 36
Back to Back  (32 J 3)  Glasspool
Strathglass House  (32 S 3)  Bk 13
Lamb Skinnet  (32 J 3)  Bk 14
Sleepy Maggie  (32 R 3)  Bk 11
Triumph  (24 R 4)  Bk 1


The Ferryboat - nice simple warmer upper.
Quarries' Jig - Yes! Thumbs up for fun dances.
Back to Back - Another thumbs up! The 'Push-me Pull-you' reels are pure genius.
Strathglass House - standard repertoire and up-coming.
Lamb Skinnet - std. repertoire and up-coming.
Sleepy Maggie - oh! The Music!!
Triumph - std repertoire and up-coming and prepped by Charlotte.

15 April 2015 - Westchester

Dances taught were:

Tine's Jig  (32 J 3)  E. Brunken
Ferrymead  (32 S 3)  H. Walker
Tambourine  (32 R 3) L. Bowen
Christine M Phillips  (32 J 3)  46/1

New Abbey  (32 S 3)
Duke of Atholl's Reel  (32 J 2)
Westminster Reel  (32 R 2)


Tine's Jig - a nice little dance with nice music by Muriel Johnstone, Jim Lindsay and Keith Smith.

Ferrymead - a nice dance. I didn't like the way it read but I like the way it dances! Recommended.

Tambourine - another "thumbs up' dance

Christine M Phillips - I like it, so I teach it.  Someday the corners will wakeup.

New Abbey - A strathspey, or is it a jig, or is it both? Definitely what I call a 'throwaway'.

Westminster Reel - taught by Charlotte one of the area Teacher Candidates. I still like it - even after completing the TC's course.

Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance - 11 April 2015

Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance

Trip to Gretna Green
Glasgow Highlanders
Chevy Chase
Scottish Reform
Castle Douglas
Rye Twist
Newburgh Jig
Sands of Morar
Irish Rover

The John Drewry Memorial set)
   Bow Fiddle Rock
   Miss Florence Adams
   Thomas Glover's Reel
C'Est l'Amour
The Dream Catcher
On the Quarter-Deck
The Flying Spur
Gentle Lady
Reel of the Royal Scots


A Good Time was had by All.

8 April 2015 - Westchester

Warmup dance:

Down Under  (32 J 2)

Dances Taught:

Peggy's Love  (32 S 3)  Bk 8/2
Rye Twist  (32 R 5 ) McKinnell
Scottish Reform  (32 J 2) Bk 3
Culla Bay  (32 S 4 sq)  Dix
Da Rain Dancin'  (32 R 3) Wallace

Peggy's Love and Rye Twist on up coming Ball Programs so prep, prep prep!

7 April 2015 - New Haven - Kilts & Ghilllies Workshop

Mostly New Haven class dancers turned out, very few out of class dancers showed.

Dances taught:

Scottish Reform (32 J 2) - Bk 3 (local variation)
Chevy Chase (32 R 3) - B. Priddey
Dream Catcher (96 S 4)
Newburgh Jig (32 J 3) Bk 48
Rye Twist (32 R 5) Bk 48
Bow Fiddle Rock (32 J 3) Drewry
Miss Florence Adams (32 S 3) Bk 38

Scottish Reform dances is a much nicer dance when on bars 13-16 first couple half turn moving up, retain RHs and set. The published version is much confusion for no gain.

Chevy Chase - I like the dolphin flip between the reels.

Newburgh Jig - not worth it.

Rye Twist - definitely worth it!

Bow Fiddle Rock - deceptively simple and definitely worth the effort.

Miss Florence Adams - has an undeserved reputation as being hard. It was when it was first published. Set and link was new! So was Corners Pass and Turn. Put them together and people's minds went into overload. Now, 15 years later when we have all dance set and link and corners pass and turn many, many, times its a relative cinch. Worth it! Always was.

Monday, April 6, 2015

1 April 2015 - Westchester - 4th Series Opener

Circle Mixer - (32 J n-circle) -
EH3 7AF - (32 J 3) - Bk 40/6
Cardross House - (32 S 3) - E. Brunken/Moments in Time
The Button Boy - (32 H 3) - Zobel/Allanton Coll.
Newburgh Jig - (32 J 3) - Bk 48/1
Castle Douglas - (32 S 3) - Goldring/12 More Social Dances
General Stuart's Reel - (32 R 3) - Bk 10/3


EH3 7AF:- a basic dance, it flows. It is, considering how often it is done in this are, becoming
 tedious. It is now a "I'll dance it if I must" dance.

Cardross House:- The music is great! Jim Lindsay, Keith Smith and Muriel Johnstone combine to create some fab music on the CD to accompany Elaine Brunken's book Moments in Time. The four tunes in the set are: The Waulkin o' the Fauld (trad.), Smailholm Tower (MAJ). Roy's Wife of Aldivaloch (trad.) and Below The Aigas Dam (John Cunningham). I listened once and put the track on repeat. For a couple of hours!

The dance is no so bad either. It is on the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance coming up on the 11th. It has also been added to my Top 50 Strathspeys list.

The Button Boy:- A Bill Zobel dance it is one of Deborah's favourites. I don't think it is quite that groot but it is definitely worth doing more than once every year or two. There is a certain lack of good, enjoyable, "dance it because I like it" hornpipes in the repertoire. Can you come up with one other than The Sailor? Off the top of your head? All the ones I come up with are out Society.

Newburgh Jig:- Do I have to?  I put it on the K&G program unseen and undanced and what a mistake that was. This one is, in my opinion, pretty much a boat anchor. When I asked the class for their opinion I got one halfhearted raised hand - "it's simple and the flirt figure was kinda nice" and that was the only positive response I got. The flirt figure... there is a story here.

Chris and Sue Ronald wrote a lovely dance for a NY City dancer, Ann of Scotia. And it has 1C set to 1st corners and gypsy round each other to face 2nd corners. Set to 2nd corners and gypsy round each other to end in 2nd place on own sides. The figure is in the dance because Ann does like to flirt on the dance floor and the Ronalds brief that sequence as "set and flirt". So if there is a redeeming quality to The Newburgh Jig it is that figure.

The music didn't help. What happened? The tempo recorded on the Society CD is soooo verrrrry sloooow. I sped it up by some 8%. Most of the equipment (karaokes) we use have a max increase of 5%. I lucked out in the computer program I use (Amazing Slow Downer) which has about 100% increase available.

Bottom line - only if I must. Time to make a break for the loo.

Castle Douglas:- One of my all-time favourite strathspeys. The opportunities to catch eyes are many and magnificent! The one video on SCDDB is mediocre. Don't base your decision on viewing that one.

General Stuart's Reel:- There is a reason why it is one of the most popular dances in the world. This was a last moment pick to close the evening because we have a teacher candidate course running in the Greater NY metro area, and the opportunity to help one of the Unit 2 candidates was impossible to pass up. They have 12 dances they have to know. And by know the society means "be able to brief without notes and dance from any position. So I gave Charlotte the opportunity to brief the dance. She did a very good job.  Gold Star!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

26 March 2015 - NY Branch Basics

Chicago Loop - (32 R 3) - K. Smith (as a strathspey)
Fish and Chips - (32 J 4) - B. Hamilton

Chicago Loop - for everyone

24 March 2015 - Tenafly (NJ)

Ken S. - 
   Skip change of step
   EH3 7AF

   Asilomar Romantic - (32 S 3) - SF Coll. 2
   The Captain's House - (32 R 3) - 3rd Graded Bk
   Machine Without Horses - (32 J 3) - 12/12

Elizabeth B.
   A Touch of Tartan - (32 R 3) - van Maarseveen


Ken, Elizabeth, Deborah and myself are all in the NJ Branch candidate class.
In order to provide practice for the Unit 3 candidates Deborah and I provide the time and space for them to practice both lessons and briefing. So you will see new names appearing in this blog.

23 March 2015 - New Haven Friends Meeting

   Scottish Reform - (32 J 2) - Bk 3/1
   On the Quarter-Deck - (32 H 2) - I. Boyd
   Castle Douglas - (32 S 3) - Goldring
   Bow Fiddle Rock - (32 J 3) - Drewry
   Miss Florence Adams - (32 S 3) - Bk 38/7 (Drewry)
   The Flying Spur - (32 J 3) - Drewry (Canadian Bk)
   Gentle Lady - (40 S 3 set) - Bethray (unpublished)


This week no new beginners to hold Emma back. I had a full set and I threw her in off the deep end - No Big Deal, for her. All the dances are from the upcoming Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance program.
All are Invited. 

Scottish Reform - as published by the RSCDS has an awkward moment. After 12 bars 1C have 4 bars to turn halfway moving back up to place and then in to meet partner RHJ for lead down the middle and up. I have never seen it done neatly. 

Then I found an English  (bad despicable me) version of the dance (Pins and Needles) also collected in the Borders not from too far from where the Scots collected theirs.

The rhythm set up in the Scottish version of the dance is: half turn moving down, balance ; half turn, balance :: half turn, balance ; then two bars to half turn moving up and out to places and two bars to dance in to meet partner.

The rhythm for the English version is: half turn, balance ; half turn, balance :: half turn, balance ; half turn moving up, balance (RH joined still in center). This is in keeping with the first 12 bars - it is all of a piece and holds together. The Scot's version breaks the symmetry. Sorry.

And it doesn't matter which you do. All you need is agreement with your partner which way it will be done. It doesn't become a different dance. In a performance or demonstration situation you all agree to do what the leader says. In a social dance it doesn't really matter - My (not so) Humble Opinion!

On the Quarter-Deck:- a nice simple hornpipe for everyone.

Castle Douglas:- ooh-la-la! when covering with partner what a nice flirt of a dance! Eye contact necessary.

Bow Fiddle Rock:- a very accessible  dance for a Drewy. If you start the first 'corner turn' from the sidelines you will be late for the "kilt flip" moment that is the raison d'être of the dance. So, finish the half figure eight heading toward your second corner so you have the time to make it back to your own sidelines and make that 'flip to face your first corner.  This is a Recommended! dance.

Miss Florence Adams:- oh my - do I ever remember the grief I got when this dance first was published and I taught it. Corners Pass and Turn and Set and Link were both new figures and nobody knew them. Too Difficult! Terrible Dance! and so on and so forth was all I heard. Today it got a Golden Ghillie Award from the class for "gee we really want to keep doing this dance". Go figure.
10 years more experience, many more dances with set and link and corners pass & turn in them =s Familiarity! (vindicated - I was just ahead of the times).

The Flying Spur:- every time we dance this it is a YES! I urge you to take the time to learn it - the reward is greater than the effort involved. It is FUN!  Note: the music I use is Marian Anderson set of jigs with the lead tune  The Famous Baravan. The only recording I have with the "name tune" (Captain White) is pathetic - no way does it make me want to dance.

Gentle Lady:- by Sandra Bethray who is currently teaching the Wilton (Kilts and Ghillies) class. Nice dance. Has one moment where you have to be thinking. To get a copy of the dance go to the New Haven Branch web site for her contact information.

19 March 2015 - NY Branch Basics

Autumn Leaves - (32 J 3) - J. Lataille
New Abbey - (32 J 3) - Goldring

12 March 2015 - NY Branch Basics

Combined class - small turnout and only 2 beginners showed up. Sue Ronald taught.

   The Round Reel of Eight - (88 R 4 square) - Bk 27/7
   The Complete Gardener - (32 J 3) - 3rd Graded Bk
   Anna's Wedding Cake - (32 S 3 set) - Janssen (Boston 50th)
   More for Four - (32 R 4some - square) - J. Lataille
   The Highland Rambler - (40 R 3) - Goldring

5 March 2015 - NY Branch Basics

Canceled for bad weather.

26 February 2015 - NY Branch Basics

   The Wind in the Willows - (32 J 2) - I. Boyd
   Troubled Water - (32 S 3) - B. Skelton

26 February 2015 - NY Branch Basics

   The Wind in the Willows - (32 J 2) - I. Boyd
   Troubled Water - (32 S 3) - B. Skelton

26 February 2015 - NY Branch Basics

   The Wind in the Willows - (32 J 2) - I. Boyd
   Troubled Water - (32 S 3) - B. Skelton

23 February 2015 - New Haven Friends Meeting

   The Highland Rambler - (40 R 3) - Goldring
   The White Cockade - (32 R 3) - Bk 5/11
   Gentle Lady - (40 S 3 set) - S. Bethray (unpublished)


Emma brought both her father and a brother. So very little dancing and way too much teaching.
This early brought to a head that I have not been meeting Emma's needs. I ended up calling her mother and discussing this. Result: Emma comes alone for now. We will try to get the home-schooling network to a "try it you'll like it" session. With enough interest I will start a children's class at the Meeting House.

17 February 2015 - Brooklyn (New Haven Ball Brunch Dance Workshop)

   Tine's Jig - (32 J 3) - E. Brunken 
   Die Zwillinge - (3x32S+3x32R - 3 set) - Rbt Gregg.
   Charter Oak Reel - (32 R 3) - A. Wolf
   Tony and Judith of Formby (Take 2) - 32 S 3) - Nutmeg (K. Way) 
   Mrs Ellen McRanor (of Parish) - (32 R 3) - Price (unpublished)
   Charles Cyril Hendrickson - (32 S 4) - Price (unpublished)
   Mary-Kate's Super Symmetric Symmetry Breaking Strathsspey
         - (32 S 2) - C. Anagnostakis (unpublished)

All from the New Haven Highland Ball Brunch Program - an interesting idea, great for a workshop, not so good for a ball brunch. Everyone tired, minds and bodies both. And so many unfamiliar and unpublished dances - Oh joy! A midterm exam! Just what we need!

It went very well, to my surprise and delight. The dancers in the room were all very strong. The weaker dancers...   stayed away. 

Please note that Tine's Jig was not on the brunch program but used as a warmup dance on this evening.

12 February 2015 - NY Branch (Basics)

   Mamie's Jig - (32 J 4) - Mary S. Brandon
   Birkinside - (32 S 2) - Goldring
It is an issue. A very volatile basics class. New people can walk in at any time. You can not count on anything except this: it will never be same two weeks in a row. Yikes.

8 December 2014 - Scotia

Deborah - 1st hour.
   The White Cockade - (32 R 3) - Bk 5/11
   General Stuart's Reel - (32 R 3) - Bk 10/3
   The Auld Grey Cat - (32 R 3) - I. Boyd
   Driving Through Eutaw - (32 J 3) - D. Leary (unpublished)

Peter - 2nd hour.
   Duke of Atholl's Reel - (32 J 2) - 16/3
   Glasgow Highlanders - (32 S 2 - becket) - Bk 2/3
   Mrs Ellen McRanor (of Parish) - (32 R 3) - Price (unpublished)
   Mairi's Wedding - (40 R 3) - Cosh

1 December 2014 - Scotia

Deborah - 1st hour
   EH3 7AF - (32 J 3) - 40/6 (Goldring)
   Adieu Mon Ami - (32 S 3) - Bk 24/11
   Shiftin' Bobbins - (32 R 3) - R. Clowes

Peter - 2nd hour
   The White Rabbit - (32 J 2) - I. Boyd
   MacLeod's Fancy - (32 J 4) - Bk 33/3 (Drewry)
   Bewitched in Salem - (32 S 3 set) - Holly Boyd
   Crossing the Line - (32 R 3set) - Drewry
   Bratach Bana - (32 R 3) - Drewry


Again a lot of prep for Brooklyn's John Drewry Night.
The White Rabbit was the 1st dance in the second hour and therefore "for everyone".
Bewitched in Salem is by a friend, Holly Boyd of Montréal. Nice dance, not great but reasonably fun.
Holly has a talent for this. She writes very nice dances.

24 November 2014 - New Haven Friends Meeting

   The Mad Hatter - (32 J 3) - I. Boyd
   Back to Basics - (32 R 3) - B. Skelton
   The Blithest Lass that ever was seen
          (32 S 3) - Miss Milligan's Miscellany 2
   Mrs Ellen McRanor (of Parish) - (32 R 3) - P. Price (unpublished)
   Kiloran Bay - (32 S 4) - John A. Johnston (unpublished)

The first half of the evening Emma was present with friends.That meant everything had to be pretty basic. And that meant that Emma didn't get what she needed which was a lot of dancing with dancers at a high level. The rest of the evening, with an incomplete set was a guinea pig session.

The Blithest Lass that ever was seen:-I had analyzed this for the Candidate class (part 5) and wanted to see how it danced. And I was correct - it is a little stinker! (Thank you Ralph Page for 'inventing'  that category.)

Kiloran Bay:- Nice one! And not really hard. It just needs a clear explanation. It is going on my short list for 2016 K&G tea dance program. It is that good. Now all I need is a preferred tune to go with the dance. Anyone?

Mrs Ellen McRanor is one of my dances. I was sending her a card, had just sealed  it when a good tune came up in the background - Muriel Johnstone's The Dissapointment) - and the dance wrote its self on the back of the envelope. I could see that there was a major issue (end effect) after the repeat when 4th couple needs to become the new third couple. The dance has them headed the wrong way and the transition has been described by a friend as "the transition from hell". I never publlished it. I also send copies of my dancers to three friends for safe keeping and, somehow, it ended up on the brunch program for this years New Haven Ball. 

Keep in mind that at this point I had never danced it. The end effect was so obvious I did not think it reasonable and certainly not publishable.
Now it is on a program - published? - and I needed to know, for myself, if it really was worthy of being on a program.

Yes. It is good enough. i dealt with the end effect very simply - I said "you are dancers, deal with it because I don't know how to do it." Got a laugh and they coped, nicely.

Kiloran Bay - I saw it on video and fell in love yet again. i saw it about six months ago and this is the first time opening I could find to try it. Worth it. As I said above - NICE! Look it up and do it!

17 November 2014 - Scotia

Deborah - 1st hour
   The Ferryboat - (5x32R circle) - warmup
   Lady Wynd - (32 J 3) - Goldring - Graded&Social 2
   Strathglass House - (32 S 3) - Bk 13/9
   The Highland Rambler - (40 R 3) - Goldring

Peter - 2nd hour
   On the Quarter-Deck - (32 H 2) - Iain Boyd
   Bees of Maggieknockater - (32 J 4) - Drewry
   Twixt Don and Dee - (32 S 4) - Drewry
   The Fireworks Reel - (32 R 3) - Bk 48/11 (A. Lingnau)