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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

10 February 2016 - Westchester

My last post was Feb. 3rd. Today is the 30th of March and that means I have a lot of updating to do.

Neat stuff has happened - Keith Rose has made diagrams for my three Mermaid dances  (Coming Real Soon Now) and for two of the more obscure dances on the NJ Branch's Rerr Terr Ball program - The Rerr Terr Jig - 40 J 3 - (Gregor Trinkaus-Randall) and Driving Through Eutaw - 32 J 3 - (Deborah Leary).

I have also heard from Ellen Ternes, the devisor of Grandma's Mandolin, which  just happens to be on both the Rerr Terr Ball (NJ) and the Kilts and Ghillies' Tea Dance (New Haven). I taught it this past Monday (March 28) to a group of six (6) dancers and had to improvise an ending. My off the cuff "twiddle" worked well enough that I was strongly urged to contact Ellen and make her aware of the change. She liked what I had done and has sent me the link to the partial video (bars 9-32) of her dance.

Which has, by the way, been blocked from the Strathspey site. Apparently it doesn't matter how helpful it is, if it isn't complete it will not be allowed. I am going to start investigating ways to put up video/links on this blog - multimedia should be easy but I am a crank old vessel and new tricks for old dogs…

By the way (2), Grandma's Mandolin is one of my Top 50 Strathspeys (the list of which is alphabetical and has only 56 dances on it). If I had to put a number against it - it would be in the top 10. Really it is that good. I do not have a class musician (sigh). I have no recording of the tune - Minnie Walker by Dave Wiesler (deep sigh). I have to use any good strathspey (wee sigh) and the recording I have been using is In Traditional Mode - lead tune Sarah Elizabeth by Muriel Johnstone. It is a fabulous set that works and is fun (loud cheer).

In an aside - it will be very interesting to hear the published tune when it is played at the balls. Will my choice of music be anything close to the paper tune?

Anyway - back to the class.

We got through 6 dances plus an unofficial 7th.

Dances Taught were:-

Highland Fair - (32 J 2) - Graded Bk
Across the Esk - (32 R 3) - Barbour/Set & Cast Off 1
Grandma's Mandolin - (32 S 3) - StrathsBabes (E. Ternes)
Driving Through Eutaw - (32 J 3) - Leary - unpublished
Balquidder Strathspsey - (32 S 3) - Bk 24
Flowers of Texas - (32 R 3) - Let's All Dance 2 (Torf)

Tiptoe and Sway - (32 R 3) - Imperial 3 (Bayly)


Highland Fair:- my rating is "If I Must" and if I can find the loo in time I'll consider the evening a success. This really isn't fair to the dance. There aren't all that many good, beginner friendly, opening jigs. But IMHO this dance is a waste. It doesn't even wake up the mind, well not my mind anyway.

Across the Esk:-  All right! I was wrong! I admit it. Ian Barbour has written a good dance. Not that I ever claimed he hadn't, it is just I have seen only one other dance of his and didn't like the contrived nature of it. This one is OK. It definitely wakes up the brain and it rewards good dancing. Nice to have in your hip pocket when putting together a program. It is on the K&G Tea Dance, which was the effort of a committee of 2 - myself and Sandra Bethray who teaches the Kilts and Ghillies class in Wilton, CT.

Grandma's Mandolin:- Five Stars! I love this one. It read well enough that it went on the program short list before I ever danced it. It made it past that onto the program. Nothing since has changed my mind. The 'mandolin' figure is smooth and sweet! A wee 'sorry' is due to the 2nd corners who dance for only two bars out of the 8.

Take a look – The opening diamond poussette has been omitted because it is 'easy'…

(Aha!  Success!)
Driving Through Eutaw:-  Written as we were driving past Eutaw on the Interstate with Marian Anderson playing Rbt. Burns tunes, in this case Banks and Braes. An unconventional jig because it isn't balanced.
2 to set, 2 to set advancing; 4 to lead down. :: 2 to change places with partner, 4 to lead up, and 2 to cast off.

But nice. And,  ;-)  it usually highlights those dancers who just can't seem to break through all the ingrained muscle memory and do something just a little bit 'off'.

Balquidder Strathspey:- On the short list because the last hour or so should be dances that are fun and do-able without any teaching needed. And it is on the K&G Tea dance for that the same reason. They can't all be final exam dances. Besides, I like the music.

Flowers of Texas:- A beginner dance for those who do not yet have pas de basque and poussette. Nice and mindless.

Tiptoe and Sway:- This is from John Bayly, the genius who devised Mrs Stuart Linnell. Which may be my all time No.1 reel. No kidding and not easy. This dance, if it were possible, is even less forgiving than MSL.
No wiggle room, not a moment of it. Everyone has to be right all the time. I like dances that are demanding but this one is a bit over the top even for me.

My way of putting it is: This one has little or no redeeming social value.

It needed lot of effort to learn and there wasn't enough payback for the input. So it not a social dance but may be good for a performance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What was the 'tweak' that you did for Grandma's Mandolin? Would like to make it into a 3 couple dance in a 3 couple set. Love the music on the truncated video.
Ian Whittaker (RSCDS Duns & District)