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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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

17 February 2016 –– Westchester

It is still prep time for upcoming balls. It has been, is, and will be the theme of this entire series. Sigh.
Trapped by the tyranny of ball prep.

The dances taught this week were:-

The Cup-of-Gold Vine  -  (32 J 3)  - Claudette Sigg
The Duchess of Atholl's Slipper  -  (32 S 2)  - Bk 9/3
The Whistling Wind  -  (32 R 3)  -  Bk 36/5 (E. Goosen)
The Robertson Rant  -  (80 S 4 sq)  -  Bk 39/8
Catch the Wind  -  (32 H 3)  -  Butterfield

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The Cup-of-Gold Vine:- A nice little jig. With some minor transition issues,  that will catch the unaware.

The Duchess of Atholl's Slipper:- I have done it before but it has never made it onto any of my lists. I now know why.  This dances takes effort - effort to nail the phrasing and effort to keep a largish size set (necessary for good phrasing) and that is not going to happen in this area without a rod and a staff to keep the dancers in  line. And along with set awareness it needs team work - everyone knowing their part. Both are currently rare commodities around here.

My experience has been that, in the CT, NY, NJ area, all the dancers have some familial relationship to sheep. We get uncomfortable if we aren't within touching distance of one another. And close proximity kills this dance. Without the necessary space the dance becomes an excruciating exercise in teeny mincing strathspey steps. The RSCDS standard is 2 meters between partners across the set and in this dance you need every millimeter of it.

With the necessary space the dance is actually quite nice. The reels are different. And that is Good! I like variety, I like things interesting.  I like the reels in Red House which are unique interpretations. I like the reels in Cadgers and in Tulloch Gorm which are different from each other and from the norm. I do not like the idea of dancing their reels in the same way. And here, in The Duchess, we have yet another way of dancing cross over reels. Just one caveat -  Know your basics - both the normal reel of three and the 'standard' cross-over reel of three. Knowing the basics lets the variations stand out and be fun to dance.

The Whistling Wind:- Oh what fun! (I am weird - I like pas de basque). On the New Haven Highland  Ball.

The Robertson Rant:- Another one that's fun. The music inspires play. Don't be pedantic, let the dancers reach for the outside of their box. Also on the NHHB.

Catch the Wind:- Just plain nice. The recordings are all good fun.  And yet another on the NHHB.


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