Tuesday, March 13, 2018

28 February 2018 – Westchester

Even closer to the date, so ball prep!! Yay :-(

I taught these dances:

The Wind Dragon  -  (32 R 3)  -  I. Boyd
Twinbairn's Reel  -  (32 J 2)  -  Drewry
A Great Day for Dancing  -  (40 R 3)  - Ruby Celebration
City of Belfast  -  (32 S 3 set)  -  Bk 48/6

Anna Holden's Strathspey  -  (32 S 2)  -  Drewry
The Snake Pass  -  (32 J 3)  - Churnside

ººº  ºº  º  ºº  ººº  ººº  ºº  º  ºº ººº  ººº  ºº  º  ºº  ººº

The Wind Dragon:-  Another dance that I have had on my bookshelf for 30+ years and this is the first time I have really looked at it and taught it.  For experienced dancers a nice wee starter of a dance. Another dance to add to my "quick and dirty" card file to pull out when needed.

A Great Day for Dancing:-  Written for the 40th (Ruby) Anniversary of the New Haven Branch and our first teachers Peter and Sue Day. I have no diffuiculty with the dance, but I am a dance monster with all that that implies. So is Leslie and she wrote the dance. I must say that when a dance comes in four colour separateion of dance tracks that it is worth taking a second look and consider the situation.

I have heard comments that the dance doesn't work. This from only a couple of people and not from the majority who would usually notice something like that. But as I have said I have no problem dancing it, but as I also said I am a dance monster. I will have to revisit it and study it to see if the second half reel really is a reel.

The Snake Pass:- Ok, it is a dance. It works (it was good enough to publish). But if I were to have to rank it by value of Redeeming Social Importance I wouldn't give it a high mark. I prefer the double snake passes in Iain Boyd's "The Lords of the Wind". Hands down.

27 February 2018 - New Haven

Again ball prep. Just four days to the ball.

I taught the following dances:

The Enchanted Castle  -  (32 J 2)  -  I. Boyd
The Bonnie Tree  -  (32 S 3)  -  Bk 46/6
Bohemian Reflections  -  (32 R 3)  -  Bk 51/12
The Twinbairn's Reel  -  (32 J 2)  -  Drewry

The Shetland Shepherdess  -  32 J 3)  -  Wallace
City of Belfast  -  (32 S 3 set)  -  Bk 48/6

øø   øø   øøø   øø   øøø  ø  øøø   øø   øøø   øø   øø

The Enchanted Castle:- It is a little different and it has a 'gotcha' moment. Dancers need to be awake the first time or two but after that it isn't mentally demanding. I am now looking for good music to pair with this dance because I will be teaching it again.

The Bonnie Tree:- The short form -- Nice!! They liked it! The hard part - John Drewry set us up when he put a nice catchy name on the figure -  "Half Turn and Twirl" - and he gets what he asks for.  That blast 'twirl'. Trying to say it as 'and pulling right shoulders back cast out to the side lines'… Goodness gracious does that slow down the briefing and make life just plain cumbersome.

Bohemian Reflections:-  Like circles? You will love this book. This dance, thankfully, doesn't have one. If teaching children a good resource. For the mainstream not very useful. This dance is OK, maybe even the best of the lot. I give it about a 72. (Inside joke from the US's Vietnam War era so don't worry about it if you don't understand the reference.) Boy am I dating myself!!

The Twinbairn's Reel:-  A Jig :-))  Reasonably pleasant, reasonably social. Not one of John Drewry's best efforts but certainly worth looking at.

Shetland Shepherdess:-  I have a positive knee jerk reaction to any dance written by Ron Wallace, deserved or not.  What I thought would be the sticking point, the multiple cross overs, wasn't.
I unfortunately do not have the one existing recording for this dance. Thumbs up.

21 February 2018 - Westchester

Ball Prep - as always.

Upcoming event is the New Haven Highland Ball Weekend.

The dances I taught were:

It's Nae Bother  -  (32 J 2)  -  RSCDS 2nd Graded
Whigmaleeries  -  (32 R 3)  -  Imperial
Bob Campbell  -  (32 S 3)  -  Drewry
Muirland Willie  -  (32 J 3)  -  Bk 21/9

Hooper's Jig  -  (32 J 3)  -  MMM
Delvine Side  -  (32 S 3)  -  Bk 2/9
Mairi's Wedding  -  (40 R 3)  -  Cosh

*†*    *†*    *†*  *  *†*  *  *†*  *  *†*    *†*    *†*

It's nae Bother:-  A Derek Haynes gem. Simple. Gets the blood and grey cells moving. Not too tedious to use on a semi regular basis. That means a thumbs up.

Whigmaleeries:- The flow for third couple is fabulous! For 2nd couple not so great since it is wait, dance, wait, dance. Very well received. Worth a look.

Bob Campbell:- It is an all right dance but not a top 50 dance. The flow is good, it is by John Drewry after all, it is just that I find it moderately tedious. It held my attention the first time I danced it, after that it just didn't sustain my interest. That doesn't mean it is inappropriate for a ball or brunch program but it wouldn't make it onto my short list of choice dances. It might get consideration if I am having trouble and working through my fifth or sixth iteration of a program.

Muirland Willie:-  (On the Kilts & Ghillies Tea Dance program). I did this dance a fair bit years ago - early on in my dance career. It is demanding both physically (mostly) and mentally. Not surprisingly it has fallen by the way side. But boy did it get a positive response from the dancers who had never seen it before. The music is great, the energy is great, and it fully engages the mind. In my humble opinion it is due for a return engagement in the standard repertoire.

19 February 2018 - Hightstown

A new group for me. It has been aging, its usual teacher is newly (relatively) married and husband has been reassigned to duty in Colorado (I think that is right). Teaching has become a committee affair and I took on this week.

Since several of the group were planning to attend the Maplewood Workshop that is what I prepped with a few other dances tossed in.

The dances we did were:

The Finlays' Jig  -  (32 J 3)  -  Goldring
Orpington Caledonian  -  (32 R 3)  -  Bk 49/2
A Summer Meeting  -  (32 S 3 set)  -  Bk 48/9
Scott Meikle  -  32 R 4)  -  Bk 46/3
Mrs Stewart's Jig  -  (32 J 3)  -  Bk 35/1
Saint John River  -  32 S 4)  -  New Brunswick
General Stuart's Reel  -  (32 R 3)  - Bk 10/3

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

14 February 2018 - Westchester

No dancing on the 7th as the weather was more than atrocious, it was dangerous.

So I did those dances this week.

They were:

Mrs Stewart's Jig  -  (32 J 3)  -  Bk 35
A Summer Meeting  -  (32 S 3/3L)  - Bk 48
Bohemian Reflections  -  (32 R 3)  -  Bk 51
The Pawling Mermaid - (32 J 3)  - Price
The 50th Parallel  -  (32 R 5)  - Zobel & Johnstone
The Cranberry Tart  -  (32 J 3)  -  Glasspool


Mrs Stewart's Jig:- Done a lot, for good reason. It was an instant classic.

A Summer Meeting:- A nice dance. But OMG the work needed to put the brakes on the dancers in the reels. So many have no clue where half way is and so totally over shoot when rounding the ends. (bad words, many bad words)!

Bohemian Reflections:- One of the best of Book 51. But, if you need a dance with a circle, look no further. Got plenty here.

The Pawling Mermaid:-  I started out looking to do something simple and fun but it just kept growing. I think I kept it simple and I hope I found just enough edge to keep it fun. I like the Back-to-Back halfway into a sharp cast.

The 50th Parallel:-  I saw the video. I fell in love. Others seem to like it too, and the stepping up sequence/timing is being handled. Three thumbs up for this one. Not on a program yet but I an definitely short listing it for the 2019 K&G Tea Dance. Counts as a Winter Special.

The Cranberry Tart:-  We do it a lot and it is still fun!

31 January 2018 - Westchester

Well, How to describe this late winter situation? What comes to mind is a song by Jean Redpath about the traveling folk in winter when there are no jobs - The Terror Times. I feel like I am there, only it is Ball Prep that presses in. One is done and that leaves five. There was the Maplewood Workshop (Feb. 24). There remains New Haven Highland Ball & Brunch (this coming weekend); The NJ Rerr Terr; The Kilts and Ghillies Tea Dance and The Westchester Ball. This last one is still a work in progress as I haven't heard back from the band and I do count on their input. But looking at all these programs  you will note that there are  almost no overlap, there just might be as many as two dances that are on more than one program.

So to relieve the tedium I have chosen not to concentrate on the soonest coming ball but to spread my teaching over all the programs and to throw in a 'special' or two for my sanity.

So the dances I taught this night in Westchester:

The 'Cupar' Jig  -  (32 J 2)  - Let's All Dance 1 (Trew)
Davy Nick Nack - (32 H 3)  -  Campbell
The Bonnie Tree  -  (32 S 3)  -  Bk 46 (Butterfield)
Toast to the Mousies  -  (32 R 3)  -  Gratiot
The Shetland Shepherdess  -  (32 J 3)  -  Wallace
The Barmkin  -  (88 R 4 sq)  -  Goldring
Gleneagles  -  (32 S 3)  -  Will

**+**     **+**     *+*   +   *+*     **+**    **+**

The "Cupar" Jig:- With the exception of the opening double figure of eight a very basic dance and, surprisingly enough, not too tedious. Good music helps.

Davy Nick Nack:- I like this dance, a lot. But, all too often, the way it is danced makes my stomach acidic. There is a difference between change places giving Right Hands and turning half way with right hands. I have no trouble making and seeing that distinction and in my opinion too often dancers simply change places with their corners. The dance takes on a whole different dimension when it is danced with wide, open turns throughout.

The Bonnie Tree:- I like it. My dancers like it. The flow is impeccable. What not to like? The only piece requiring care are the Half Turn and Cast movements. Getting the necessary hesitation before the cast… I am reminded of the saying about the mule. First you have to hit it between the eyes with a big enopugh stick to get it's attention. Dances love to 'twirl' and just don't hear the 'hesitation ' bit.

The blame belongs to John Drewry. He invented and named the figure, and yes it is a nice catchy name, but what he forgot to take into account is that dancers will do what they are told and not do what they are supposed to do. And I find the temptation to use the short form and not the proper form is overwhelming most  of the time - and I get what I asked for. (bad words).

Toast to the Mousies:- Good Dance! Great tune! The tune is available on the eponymous CD by Muriel Johnstone and Keith Smith that accompanies the dance book "Spark o' Water" (from Nova Scotia). Norma's Garden is the track that uses Toast to the Mousies as the lead tune. Two thumbs up from the class and from me.

The Shetland Shepherdess:- from the pen of Ron Wallace who brought us Da Rain Dancin'.
It is a nice one. I thought the multiple crossing would be a challenge to some. I was wrong. Everyone has handled it beautifully. The challenge I have faced has been finding music to fit.

The Barmkin:- The challenge: find fun, simple, square dances in quicktime so I never have to subject myself to Round Reel of Eight ever again. This one works. Definitely simple, fun, and it will, maybe, pass the tedium test. We will see.

Gleneagles:- It has Chain Progression, the Knot, Hello-Goodbte setting, and a half Reel and continuation figure that is kinda fun. On the cusp of being really good but I think it works for some and not for others. Worth looking at.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

24 January 2018 - Westchester

Burns Night!

We had only two family members visiting so the program remained mostly easy but experienced friendly.

Findlays' Jig  -  (32 J 3)  -  Goldring
Fair Donald  -  (32 S 3)  -  Bk 29
Circle of Cheer  -  (32 R n circle)  - Let's All Dance
Shetland Shepherdess  - (32 J 3)  - Wallace
Silver Tassie  -  (32 S 3)  - Drewry
Shiftin' Bobbins  -  (32 R 3)  - Clowes

      The Annual Haggis Bashing

Collie Law  -  (32 J 2)  -  Goldring
Adieu Mon Ami  -  (32 S 3)  -  Bk 24
Da Rain Dancin'  -  (32 R 3)  -  Wallace

23 January 2018 - New Haven

Deborah celebrated Burns Night with the Ho-Ho-Kus class of the New Jersey Branch and I provided the neeps. :-)

It is the start of the new season and a busy season it is coming up. Both the New Jersey Branch and the New Haven Branch have 2 events:NJ has a workshop in Maplewood and their usual ball The Rerr Terr; New Haven has it's Highland Ball weekend and the Kilts and Ghillies Tea dance and Westchester has it's ball in early June. That is a lot of ball prep to look forward too…Not!

I decided to ease into it by only doing a bit of ball prep. The Facebook page for the New Haven class indicates they don't need it from me so I am planning on having fun.

The dances I "taught" were:-

It's Nae Bother  -  (32 J 2)  -  Haynes
The Duchess Tree  -  (32 S 3)  -  Drewry
Scott Meikle  -  (32 R 4)  -  46/3

The "Winter Specials" were:-

The Aviator  -  (32 J 3)  -  Fischer
A Trip to Edinburgh  -  (32 R 4 sq)  -  Nolan
The Clumsy Lover  -  (32 R 3)  -  Aurora 10
Linnea's Strathspey  -  (32 S 3)  - Wilson

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

It's Nae Bother:-  Simple. Kind of cute. A nice way to get the muscles geared up for dancing.

The Duchess Tree:-  A lovely dance but so often poorly done. Two issues. The main one is the entry into the opening reels. 2C has no issue- they simply cross up to begin. 1C doesn't have a problem either if they simply do a normal cast in the normal time. 3C start the reel by taking 4 bars to cast up into second place. Ya, you betcha! A whole 4 bars but this is where the timing goes wrong -
3C tends to rush the cast and the reel gets real mushy.

The other piece that John Drewry choreographed impeccably is the Set, Circle, Turn, Circle. He tells you that you need to move the Turn along the circle. He is right. (Has he ever been wrong?) What I had tonight was an eye opening moment. I saw a couple of dancers who didn't know how to dance a two hand turn in such a way that it progressed along the circumference. In the press of the moment they couldn't even do a proper turn! And that means it has been Bad Teaching - and I passed the moment by when I could have taken the 30 seconds to demonstrate the point.

Scott Meikle:-I love this dance! Neat simple concept that makes you look up and say "how did I get here?" It has become a standard in the NY/NJ area and however often we have done it, I still like it.
Two thumbs up!

The Aviator:- OMG!! This one literally gives me goose bumps up and down my arms both when I dance it and when I see it danced well covered. Yes, it is that good. So Just Do It.

The music used in our video is by Dave Wiesler and Mara Shea. It is good. The music I prefer is "On the Wings of the Morning" by Keith Smith and Muriel Johnstone's from their CD "Campbell's Birl".

The class loved it too. And they were not adverse to my suggestion that it might show up on the 2019 K&G Tea Dance program.

The Clumsy Lover:- Deborah came home raving, well she wasn't actually raving, but she was very enthusiastic about it. The experiment was repeated here and the result was the same. Enthusiasm.
Another candidate for the 2019 K&G short list.

There is a video but I don't know the music. I talked to a piper and there is a pipe tune of this name.
Would that I could play it so I could hear it. I had to come up with a tune but had nothing quite like what they played on the video - I used City of Stirling Reel/Glencraig SCD Band.

Result of the experiment - enthusiasm and more than one thumbs up from the floor.

Linnea's Strathspey:-  Oooh, nice! Highly recommended (as I have said before).

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

12 December 2017 - Loch Leven Dancers

Well, Loch Leven Dancers have danced, filmed and edited, and posted 4 more dances.

Monadh Liath:-

Rob Roy     (video 2 is ours - but it is first in the queue)

The Aviator

Black Leather Jig:-  2 videos - one straight, two for fun)

24 October 2017 – New Haven

An appropriate subtitle for this post - Still Struggling.

It is almost the end of October and my goal was to have the Tea Dance program settled by September.
I missed that deadline. So I reset to the end of September. Missed that one too. We are now almost out of October and the program still hasn't come together to my satisfaction.

Usually when I have this much trouble finishing a program there is one dance that is holding things up. Doesn't play well with others, and no matter how much I want that one on the program everything improves when I take it away. Not this time. There is no one dance causing the problem. To make it work I would have to start from scratch and build the program in a different manner, from a different mind set. That isn't going to happen unless I am still struggling at Christmas.

Short version: today I am - still - looking at dances.

The dances taught:

Come What May  -  (32 J 2)  -  Bk 51/11
A Reel for Maria  -  (40 R 3)  -  Suncoast (McRanor)
The Clarsach  -  (32 S 3)  - Portland 20th (Ryer)
The Young Foxes  -  (32 R 3)  -  Gregg notes
Rockside  -  (96 J 4 sq)  -  Goldring
Scotia Sea  -  (32 R 3)  -  Goldring
From Paper to Pearl  -  (32 S 3)  -  Collin

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

Come What May:-  Book 51 is aaaah… something. Intended for children and beginners. Ok it might work for them. I used this dance for a warm up because our class includes a couple, in their 70s, who are challenged. They do not move well, are slow picking up patterns, don't always remember them in time, but they started dancing just over a year ago so this is normal. But I see little to like in the way of additions to the standard repertoire. How many circles do we need? But how many books do we skip over when making programs? Book 2?

We do Delvine Side regularly (for the music) but I haven't seen Bob O'Dowally, also good music, on a program in over 30 years. Glasgow Highlanders shows up now and again, but  Eightsome Reel? Not in over 20 years.
And now we add another book that is useful only in very specific circumstances.

A Reel for Maria:- A Yes. It is not a rave dance but it is a nice one. And yes it is on the Tea Dance program. It is accessible to almost all, and it was written by Ellen McRanor who, before she retired, taught both the Kilts and Ghillies and the Woodbridge groups in Connecticut and is now teaching in Florida.

I had no idea Ellen had published dances until I met Livia Kohn (a co-author) at Pinewoods this summer and saw the book in the bookstore. I had to… I mean not buy a book with their work in it? And not put one of her dances on 'her' ball? Seriously?

In regards to the book - some very nice dances here. Thumbs up.
It is available from lulu.com. They print (and mail) on demand and do the eBook thing too.

The Clarsach:- Some nice moves and some different moves. Definitely worth looking at. Some of the transitions just plain make me smile, and that is a very good thing.

A video will be coming soon - I mean Real Soon Now, like before March… maybe. (Hopefully much sooner but who knows with this group of mine).

The Young Foxes:- By Robert Gregg. When he died he gave me several files of dance notes and the commission to edit and publish what I could. This is the first one which I could clean up enough for publishing. It is now published in Ruby Anniversary Book - Scottish Country Dances from Connecticut.

The entry into the first reel is almost unique and worth it. The flow is worthy of John Drewry. The short form - two thumbs up - I Like It!

Not for this year but starred and on the top of the shortlist for 2019.

The Scotia Sea:- I have taught and talked about this dance before.

From Paper to Pearl:- Do it! Didn't you hear me? DO IT! As I taught it I heard several "huhs?" and when we danced it I then heard several "wows!"