Wednesday, April 26, 2017

11 April 2017 – Ho Ho Kus

Substitute class - Kenwyn away and me in his place.

He sent me his class plan and I mostly kept to it, and it was mostly ball prep for the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance. (Again). It is a good thing that I like this program. Mostly the dances are still likable even after a lot of repetition.

The dances we did were:-

The Findlays' Jig  –  (32 J 3)  –  Goldring
Chris Ronald's Strathspey  –  (32 S 3)  – Wallace
Lady Susan Stewart's Reel  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 5/9

Fountainfall  –  (32 R 3)  – Wheater
Wisp of Thistle  –  (32 S 3)  –  Bk 37/4
General Stuart's Reel  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 10/3
Les Remparts de Séville  –  (32 J 3)  –  Bk 50/2
The Compliment  –  (32 S 2)  –  Goldring

*  **  ***   ** * **   ***  ** *

The Findlays' Jig:-  I like. Over time it becomes a wee bit tedious but it is a go to type jig. Nice and Simple. All it needs (if you are not blessed with class musicians) is a good tune.

Chris Ronald's Strathspey:- By Ron Wallace, commissioned by Sue Ronald and music commissioned from James Gray. I really like this one. It makes nice use of Terry Glasspool's Push Me Pull You reels
(a figure eight around a couple dancing Back-toBack Rsh then by Lsh). I also like Ron's figure of Hello-Goodbye with Turns. Bottom line: This one is a keeper - I am getting a goodly amount of positive feedback. So it is not just me.

Lady Susan Stewart's Reel:- Not well received. They did not like the opening 10 bar phrase that need to be danced in 8 bars. A dance for young legs or very canny survivors.

Fountainfall:- A  dance written just a day or so before this class. The devisor's first dance- she started Scottish Country dancing this past September. (My first dance wasn't this good).
Dance Instructions [Here]

Les Remparts de Séville:- I have commented before - The bottom line? A thumbs up.

The Compliment:- Needs good technique to make it look good. A thumbs up.

Friday, April 14, 2017

10 April 2017 –– Scotia

Again intended to be a fairly standard ball prep evening. That didn't last long. First day of the Jewish celebration and the attendance was light. So I got to play.

First Half - (Deborah teaching)

Circle of Cheer  –  (32 J n circle)  –  Hamilton
Hedwig's Reel  –  (32 R 3)  –   Graded 2
Hope Little's Strathspey  –  (32 S 3/3L)  –  Goldring
The White Cockade  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 5

Second Half - (me teaching)

Cabbages and Kings  –  (32 J 3)  –  Butterfield
Johnsonville Diamond  –  (32 S 2)  –  Downey
Zytglogge  –  (32 R 3)  –  Blackburn
Monadh Liath  –  (32 S 3)  – Drewry
Cranberry Tart  –  (32 J 3)  –  Glasspool
Anderson's Rant  –  (32 R 3)  –  MMM

*  **   ***   ** **    ** * **   ** **   ***   **  *

Circle of Cheer:- nice simple circle dance that just calls for a class on handing. And that was Deborah's plan for the evening.

Hedwig's Reel:-  Another "Chain" dance. Taught as written and danced other. So she went with the flow, as it were, and substituted a mirror fig. of eight for the original parallel Rsh fig. of eight.

Hope Little's Strathspey:-  One guess. A "chain" dance?  You betcha.  And this one has that 'something' that takes it out of tedious into acceptable. One piece of that is the set arrangement which means fewer repeats. Eight times through Seann Triubhas Willichan, for example. Nice dance but when will it ever end?

The White Cockade:-  Rights and Lefts. Just a different version of Chain.

Cabbages and Kings:-  Another of Deborah's dances and I got to open the 2nd half with it.  "I like it" the Walrus said, "The time has come to dance Cabbages and Kings." Again R&L (that mini-chain thing).

Johnsonville Diamond:-  I Like It.  Note: The Spiral variation is not good for dancers who are susceptible to motion sickness, and Deborah is one of the two who in the class who are. The opening setting figure shines when the dancers advance 'aggressively'. Wimps - stay home!

Zytglogge:-  It's Play Time! Simple set up, 16 bars of relatively simple central corner figure, Simple finish. The structure is simple, the figures are simple, and that opens the door to embroidery. And the door is not open just a crack.

When danced straight and clean care must be taken to round all the turns to the max and use ALL the allotted time. Elegant.

Play time version:- 2nd corners have little to do and little interaction with the other dancers. But they can become quintessential clockwork figures, turning about at the corners, spinning as they move along the track. First couple and 1st corners can twirl too, since the inside RH turn is only 3/4 in 2 bars, a twirl 'to face' is possible there and another is possible when 1C and 1st Corners turn each other into/out of the center. Lots of possibilities if you have a crooked mind and like to play.  Oh sorry!  I forgot. This is Scottish Country Dancing isn't it? No Fun allowed.  Hah!

Monadh Liath:-  Highland schottische balance in line is the highlight. Not a thumbs up, a High Five!

The music I have is by David South (an Aussie band) and I have just one of their CDs - "Kardinia Capers". On the whole I like it but I am not a huge fan, except for two tracks.

The music for Cauld Comfort, a Ron Wallace dance is on the CD as is the music for Monadh Liath. And they work!

Monadh Liath is not on any upcoming ball. This one was for my delight. And it has been a while since I have done it and I am seriously considering it for the next year's K&G short list.

The Cranberry Tart:- Terry was in a serious back and forth with the woman he wrote the dance for. She claimed the color of her gown was fuchsia, he insisted it was cranberry, and he brought the discussion to an abrupt end with this: Well if that is so then I'll have to name the dance "Fuchsia Shock". Need I say he won?

This dance is also a playground. He wrote the dance before Dolphin Reels became all the rage by way of Pelorus Jack. So one of our local dancers emailed him and asked him if he would have written the tandem reel across as a lead change reel? Terry has left the door open. We now embroider it that way. It is a liberty since only 1C is involved.

Anderson's Rant:-  A nice dance, a simple dance, with good music. A good ender for a rather brain heavy program.

4 April 2017 –– New Haven

A Rescheduled event. My usual slot is at the end the month. Late March has become early April.

I was asked to do another, yet another, prep session for the Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance.  It makes one suspicious of what the usual teachers of the class are doing. "We have a problem Houston" - communication wise.

Hence the existence of this Blog. I started it because I wanted to know what the other teachers in the branch were doing. I knew that someday I was going to be asked to do another ball program. (It still hasn't happened). And I only knew what I was teaching in my one class in the branch. Middletown? No idea. New London/Mystic? Unknown. Granby? Black hole.

So I thought that a blog, where all the teachers had editing/posting ability would fix that, Every week the teachers would post what they had taught, a simple list would do. Program devisors would then know what dances are being done throughout the branch.  Silly me. I sent invitations out to each and every teacher.  No one accepted the invitation. So, sadly, it defaulted to my private playground.

The lists on the strathspey server are a wonderful planning tool but not a good historical tool. Lists  allow you to see what was planned for a class. The dating feature extends that over time but unless it is for a set program it doesn't necessarily show what was actually taught/danced. For example my plans change depending on who actually shows up.

So, all the dances I taught were from the upcoming Tea Dance:-

Driving Through Eutaw  –  (32 J 3)  –  Leary
Swirling Snow  –  (32 S 3/3L)  – Taylor
Anderson's Rant  –  (32 R 3)  –  MMM
Saw ye my wee thing  –  (32 J 2)  –

The Johnsonville Diamond  –  (32 S 2)  –  Downey
More Bees A-Dancin'  –  (32 R 3)  –  Goldring
Chris Ronald's Strathspey  –  (32 S 3)  –  Wallace
Les Remparts de Séville  –  (32 J 3)  –  Latour (Bk 50)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

3 April 2017 – Scotia

Opening night of a new series and I always struggle. There are the usual suspects and then there is a certain amount of churn within a rotating pool of other dancers, and I haven't seen them as a class in about a year, and I feel rusty. It doesn't matter that I finished teaching a series for another class just 2 weeks ago. Each class has its own identity and I need to adjust. And I am just a little slow at that these days.

The churn of ball prep continues. The Rerr Terr is over and done, the Westchester Ball program just came out. And so it continues.

This group has a different class arrangement.
The first hour and a half is supposedly geared for beginners, they accept them off the street nightly, and most of the technique is scheduled for this slot. The second half is less friendly to beginners and  more dance oriented than skills oriented.

First Half (Deborah):-

Waltzing to Iowa  –  (32 W nCircle)  – Schneider
Cutty Sark  –  (32 J 3)  – Bk 40
The Highland Rambler  –  (40 R 3)  –  Goldring
Bedrule  –  (32 S 3)  –  Bk 33
Chicago Loop  –  (32 R 3)  –  K. Smith

Second Half  (Peter):-

Gloria's Wee Jig  –  (32 J 3)  –  McMurtry
Peggy Spouse MBE  –  (32 S 3)  –  Bk 46
British Grenadiers  –  (32 R 3)  – MMM
Abbot of Unreason  –  (32 J 3)  –  Levy/Tin Woodman
Black Leather Jig  –  (32 R 3)  –  Selling/DelVal25

*  **   ***   ****   ** * **   ****   ***   **  *

Gloria's Wee Jig:– I hadn't planned on doing this dance. But after tea I was asked if the first dance was going to be beginner friendly. Seriously, how could I have said no?

It is a nice dance overall with one troubling fudge - the two men, on the diagonal,  turn LH to set up the Ladies' Chain. It works but it always causes just a moment of "huh?". It is not a sweet flow but the chase that follows is. And, yes, I like the chase even though it unusual enough to confuse the unwary. Even when it is stressed as "the hard part".

These two issues are just enough to keep it off my Top 50 Jigs list.

Peggy Spouse MBE:- I like it. I give it a 92. The dance is a beauty!  But I hate the teaching and the briefing. Too many words, too many short bits. Just too many pieces! I took a look at it when Bk 46 came out but I didn't learn/prep the dance until last year. The amount of ink on the page turned me away. I have reconsidered the situation and the dancers are liking it. Enough that they are putting in the work.

Bottom line-- A Keeper.

The British Grenadiers:-  An oldie. Not on any of Tyler Campbell's lists and for good reason.
Simple dance with the figures following in no flowing order. In other words a simple, but not easy, dance.

But the new music by Jim Lindsay is simply too much fun not to use. And did that upset our Scots guard of expats. The nicest words I heard were "That's not Scottish!" followed by grumble grumble b***h and moan.

Different strokes and all that.  This music not only makes me smile but it makes me want to get up and dance.

(We are talking about the RSCDS CD for Book 49 with Jim Lindsay and his band. He includes a couple of 'extras' just for fun.)

Abbot of Unreason:-  By Milton Levy, with a borrowing from Caberfei. Music by one of our own, I mean one of New York City's own - Jim Stevenson lives on Long Island, just 40 miles and 3 hours away. (I exaggerate - a bit).

If you aren't familiar with Milton's name think Gang the Same Gate, My understanding is that Milton invented the set and link for three. I can not dredge up the information at this moment but some where he lectures on the difference between the types of set and links. There is the standard Set and Link, and there is the Set and Cross Link.

And when I teach using that language there is less confusion.

Set and link - dancers change places but not orientation. The standard.

Set and Cross Link - dancers change places but also orientation.
1C 2C join hands and set and "link" but end beside partner NHJ, 1C facing up and 2C facing down.
Try this - 1st and 2nd couples set and cross link.
And when you are briefing?

So  set and link for 3 in Gang the Same Gate is technically a cross link. We don't call it that and later that makes our life harder when we teach set and link/cross link for 2 couples. No common vocabulary.

The Black Leather Jig:- Fun dance. Fairly easy dance. Great Music! I recommend the CD by Thistle House recorded live when the played the New Haven Ball and Brunch some years ago.

I knew the couple who would show up at dances in black motorcycle leathers. And then Heather made her man a leather kilt…

A great way to end a program or a half.

22 March 2017 – Westchester End of Series Party

We did the Whole Thing!

The Findlays' Jig  –  (32 J 3)  – Goldring
The Paisley Weavers  –  (32 S 3/3L)  –  Haynes
On the Morning Tide  –  (32 H 3)  –  I. Boyd
Hooper's Jig  –  (32 J 3)  –  MMM
Culla Bay  –  (32 S 4 sq)  –  Bk 41
The Black Leather Jig  –  (32 R 3)  – DelValley25

Cutty Sark  –  (32 J 3)  –  Bk 40
Mary Erskine  –  (32 R 3)  – Goldring
Fair Donald  –  (32 S 3)  –  Bk 29
The Cranberry Tart  –  (32 J 3)  –  Glasspool
Deil Amang the Tailors  –  (32 R 3)  –  Bk 14