Friday, January 29, 2016

27 January 2016 – Westchester

Third series, class number 1 and a somewhat rocky start.

The other teacher and I were not in contact until just days before the class, I myself had not gotten into the groove so no lesson plan/cribs had gone out to the class which is the procedure in Westchester.

And there was a gotcha of my own doing.

Because no cribs were sent out, a couple of the dancers went onto Strathspey looking for the upcoming ball programs that I would probably be teaching to. And in looking there found a dance that resonated with the blizzard of the weekend. A 32 bar Strathspey called called Swirling Snow, from  the Martello Tower Bk 7 (Kingston, Ontario). They brought it to my attention and, since I did not have a program ready for Wednesday, teaching it seemed like a good idea…     Yeah! Right!

I knew it until I tried to teach it. Just a wee bit of confusion and a fair bit of embarrassment. I had to figure out on the floor how the circulating allemande worked. Once over that hurdle it went well and was liked. I am now looking for a copy of the original because it is always a bad idea to teach a dance from the cribs.

The dances I taught:

Orpington Caledonians  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 49
Swirling Snow  –  (32 S 3 set)  – Martello Tower 7
Braes of Balquhidder  –  (32 R 3)  –  18C

Fingal's Fancy  –  (32 J 3)  – Alexander 3
John McAlpin  –  (32 S 3)  –  Foss
Davy Nick Nack  –  (32 S 3)  – Glasgow Assy


Orpington Caledonians:- On the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance and the NJ Rerr Terr. And in a major departure from established procedures there has not been a teachers workshop to learn the dances in the recently issued Book 49. I have been teaching this one because I put on the K&G program based on a reading of the text. I got lucky with it because it was voted a Golden Ghillie by the dancers in my New Haven class.

Swirling Snow:- They liked it in spite my incredible fumbling. Now on my short list for my Feb. class in New Haven and, if they like it too, it gets short listed for next year's tea dance. I give it a thumbs up. Nice job Ruth Taylor!

Braes of Balquhidder:- There are two dances with this name you know. One a strathspey, this a reel. And what is different about this dance is the phrasing. You can't parse it neatly. You need to exercise good judgement and common sense. The first 16 bars are restrained and then it takes off and flies! There a pieces that you can not phrase in a normal, what we were taught, fashion. A little more, a little further, with more flight. you need either young legs or to know how to cut corners.

Fingal's Fancy:- A nice light hearted jig. Need a simple dance with Double Triangles? Choose this one.

John McAlpin:- I have a problem with this dance as done in this area. It seems to be the rule, self selected and not taught by any teacher that I know of, that as 1C dance down to 2nd place and turn with LH to face 1st corners  2nd couple step on on bars 7&8.  What??

Once result, which I have seen, is that 1C end up somewhere down between 3rd couple and have no idea where their corners are. Good for a hearty laugh - and some embarrassment. The instructions are very clear - 2C steps up AS 1C lead down -  on bars 5&6!! It opens up the space where 1C must end and prevents the confusion.

Davy Nick Nack:- Great dance. Just one thing of which you must beware - DO NOT EVER dance this in a 7 couple set unless it is a children's class and you are desperately trying burn off their excess energy.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

25 January 2016 - NHFM

I taught 7 dances. Some familiar. Some not. Some from upcoming party programs, some not.
The class was light on dancers which severely impacted my choice of program.

The regular New Haven class meets on Tuersdays and, on the weeks when I teach my monthly Monday class, they are now canceling the Tuesday class since too many of the dancers are choosing not to dance 2 nights in row. There is something wrong with this picture.

I started this class because I lived in New Haven, danced and taught there for over 25 years, took over  a different class that met the same night and I was not happy having to choose one over the other. I therefore set up this once a month class so I could stay involved and in touch with my immediate 'family'.

I have some rethinking to do.
1. Not all the Tuesday dancers are able to attend my Monday class.
2. My numbers are light.
3. Everyone who is coming on Monday also danced on Tuesdays.
4. If Tuesday dancing is being canceled because of my Monday class...
5. Young Emma and her mom say Tuesdays is actually better for her
6. If changing my reservation to Tuesday is acceptable with the Friends Meeting then, other than the conflict with the Ho Ho Kus class who also dance on Tuesdays, switching my trip to New Haven to Tuesday seems to make sense.

What I taught:

Gloria's Wee Jig  –  (32 J 2)  –  McMurtry
Domino Five  –  (32 R 5some)  –  Haynes
On the Quarter-Deck  –  (32 H 2)  –  Boyd
A Moment for Marilynn  –  (32 S 2)  –  Glasspool
The Portland Mermaid  –  (32 S 3 set)  –  Price
Miss Eleanor  –  (32 S 3 set)  –  Bk 49
Blairmormond  –  (32 S 2)  –  Drewry


Gloria's Wee Jig:- We have done it before and it still gets smiles and good reviews from the dancers.
                              The set up for the Ladies' Chain is nice and the end little chase is just plain sweet.

Domino Five:- A very simple five person dance from Derek Haynes. Tedious if done on a regular basis.

On the Quarter-Deck:- I have always liked this one. It is one of my top 50. It is simple, accessible, and it helps if you pick good music. And with hornpipes that is easy to do. They are all good, aren't they?

A Moment for Marilynn:- This one is pure dead brilliant and beautiful. A stunner! La Baratte is the only formation that requires practice and more practice. I find that this dance fully rewards all the work required to get it right. Top 50 for sure. It is in the database but without any data. I will correct this oversight shortly.

The Portland Mermaid:- I actually like it. (I know, I know, I wrote it. But just because I wrote it doesn't mean it is any good - but when the dancers are saying they like it there might be some truth to it). The real issue is that I have the dancers doing a couple of slightly unusual patterns and I have been struggling to find the best words to convey the movements. I am getting there - slowly.
Due to be published Real Soon Now.

Miss Eleanor:- YES! Another 3 couple bourrell! Finally! Two thumbs up. So far that is a total 4 good dances from the new book. That's so good I can't complain. I have tried four and all four were good dances. I mean, how many of us still teach any of the dances from Book 28?

Blairmormond:- A John Drewry dance. How bad could it be? That was rhetorical, obviously. It has the flow. Thumbs up. Just don't take the diagram or the cribs too seriously even though they are absolutely correct.

The class is advanced. They know what they are doing and they know what works. They did not dance the reel of four as it was written because it worked better slightly modified.
As written:
 "at the end, the men turn each other with the  left hand once round to finish back to back in the middle facing own partners.

The dancers found this awkward. The men found it easier to end offset while the ladies looped into place to face partner. This did not affect the set to and turn partner into circle four. At some point we become too rule bound for good dancing. It isn't a science it is an art. There has to be a place for common sense. The change made did not change the dance in any substantive way and in my opinion it flowed better. But in your class it is your call.