Dances for socials (was Elitism)

Bryan McAlister

Message 15612 · 26 Jan 1999 00:39:11 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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In article <Xxxx.X41.3.96.990123113232.70438X-100000@xxx.xxx.xxx>,
Priscilla M. Burrage <xxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx.xxx> writes
>On Sat, 23 Jan 1999, M Sheffield wrote:
>
>> > Each of us knows a dance
>> >or two that is easy for beginners and a genuine challenge for advanced
>> >dancers.
>>
>> No, sorry. I can't think of any dance that would fit both descriptions.
>> >I offer Lady Auckland's Reel, a strathspey ...
>>
>> A strathspey? !
>> For beginners? ! !
>>
>> Do you people know what a beginner is?
>
Come off it. teaching a strathspey is not hard and beginners don't find
it that difficult.
Nowadays I regularly teach ceilidh dancers at weddings, birthday parties
etc. a strathspey and it gets rave responses - strathspeys wow, nobody
else does this at ceilidhs.. great to see you are keeping up the
traditions etc....

We do it like this...
I get out on the floor with my radio mike and teach the step - setting
step and forwards and back, this doesn't take long, after all they are
no harder than a Line dance grapevine.

Then we teach a 4x32 bar strathspey called Easie Peasie, in which I
tried to avoid the obvious difficulties that occur in strathspeys,
namely..
. slow turgid music - we use a solo fiddle with keyboard and guitar
backing, usually one of the great Gow or Marshall strathspeys, played
with spirit by Iain Fraser. Remember the distinguishing feature of the
Strathspey is the rhythm, not the step,
. endless repetition - it uses a 4 x32 bar format
. the confusing _to a new dancer_ progression from 1st to 2nd couple
position, normally encountered in an 8x32 3 couple dance
. strange _to a new dancer_ figures like allemandes which frequently
occur in the simpler strathspeys

Easie Peasie goes like this _ I've used ceilidh speak not rscds speak_

1-4 1st couple set and change places with right hand
5-8 1st couple set and change back to their place
9-16 1st and 2nd couples dance right hand star, left hand star back
17-24 1st, 2nd and 3rd couples join near hands and dance down and back
25-32 1st couple followed by couples 2-4 cast off, 1st couple form arch
at bottom, other couples dance through, leaving 2nd couple ready to
start 2nd time around.

I have tried to give dancers a clear pointer as to where they are in the
dance by using the device first 8 bars - one couple, second 8 bars - 2
couples, third 8 bars three couples and so on.
I don't particularly like the Form arch and couples 2-4 dance through
figure but it has the advantage that everyone understands it.

I would repeat we do this at weddings, birthday parties, fund raising
dances etc. not specialist ceilidhs with experienced ceilidh dancers.

On a related topic..

I was discussing Country Dancing recently with a caller who does Irish
Set Dancing, who is also a significant figure on the folk scene in
Central Scotland. In the course of discussion this individual said ....I
was calling at a dance recently and someone came up and requested the
Duke of Perth, I knew at once he was a complete tosser... How do country
dancers get this kind of reputation? _It is one fairly frequently
encountered on the traditional music circuit_. It is because of the
mannered steps, demeanour etc. etc. that have been fostered in RSDCS
dancing over the years and the reluctance to actually get out there and
keep the traditional dances in common usage on all occasions.

--
Bryan McAlister

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