XTRA! XTRA! Read All About It!

Sharlene Penman (piano), visiting from New Zealand, is the band leader for the 2019 Tea Dance.
Our fiddlers are Jenny Evans and Amy Beshara.

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.

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