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Sharlene Penman (piano), visiting from New Zealand, is the band leader for the 2019 Tea Dance.
Our fiddlers are Sarah Stefanski and Jenny Evans, both local artists.

Friday, December 11, 2015

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!

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