Test/Golden Pheasant

Marjorie McLaughlin

Message 21778 · 3 Jul 2000 05:28:35 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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Sorry for the delay in replying. It's a bit involved to explain here in
words but Wilson's Double Triangles is done with a traveling step
(though he refers to a chasse, not a skip change of step) and does begin
with first couple in second place on own sides facing in.

In separate editions of "Analysis of Country Dancing" Wilson has
diagrams showing two versions of the figure. One looks better on paper,
one is better to dance, but they both are basically figures of eight
around one's corners finishing back in second place (i.e., the Cauld
Kail figure I mentioned). Can you picture the triangle formed when you
dance from second place, pass right shoulder around first corner, left
shoulder around second corner and return to place? Don't try to apply
modern skip change, pas de basque, or styling to these figures, the
technique would have been quite different from our 20th century SCD and
closer to what we see in contemporary English Country Dancing. Also, the
RSCDS reconstruction of the dances make other changes which affect the
execution of the dance.

Wilson was a prolific constructor of dances and formations and he is
quite clear in stating that the Double Triangles is a new figure of his
own making. How Miss Milligan turned it into a figure using pas de
basque and beginning with first couple back to back is something we'll
never know. But all the early RSCDS books using the figure say "Wilson's
1816 Companion to the Ballroom" or Button and Whitaker, so we can be
quite sure the figure comes from Wilson.

I use the word constructor, rather than devisor, because Wilson believed
dances could be made up from a formula. Anselm, and others, noted the
simplicity of the sequence in the Golden Pheasant. Most of Wilson's
dances are noted for their construction of "figure one, figure two,
figure three, etc". Miss Mary Douglas is a classic Wilson dance, as is
The Golden Pheasant. He truly believed that you could make up a dance on
the spot as long as it fit the music, had a progression, and could be
demonstrated by the first couple as they moved down the line.

Oh help - I'm getting into a workshop lesson here so I should stop, but
it is interesting to see how the "interpretation" of an old figure could
turn the original into a danceable variation. My only concern is that
the dances using the "original" invariably cause difficulties in
execution. As I mentioned in my earlier posting, modern devisors using
the modern double triangles do a much better job of getting the dancers
into and out of the figure than the reconstructed dances mixing the new
version into an old dance.

Enough for now,

Marjorie McLaughlin
San Diego

Lee Fuell wrote:
> Marjorie,
> Thanks for the below! It prompts, however, a follow-up question:
> > The modern figure "double triangles" is an aberration of the figure
> > devised by, and published in the late 18th/early 19th century manuals
> > of, Thomas Wilson. In Thomas Wilson's manuals the figure Double
> > Triangles does not begin with the first couple back to back facing own
> > sides (the figure in bars 1-8 of the reel time portion of Cauld Kail is
> > the closest I have found to Wilson's original). Our modern figure
> > appears to have been a figment of Miss Milligan's fertile imagination,
> > though I am told she indicated that she "found it" in Wilson. Double
> > triangles as described by Wilson begins with the first couple facing
> > each other in second place on own sides.
> It would seem, however, that the transition from "set and turn
> corners" to Wilson's version of double triangles (as opposed to
> Miss Milligan's) would still be quite a physical challenge. Not
> having to scrunch in back-to-back would seem to make it
> marginally easier, but still require quite an extended jete' on bar 32
> to get there.
> Regarding Cauld Kail, according to the description in Book 9, the
> first eight bars of reel time look like simply figures of eight on the
> opposite sides - a long way from Miss Milligan's version of double
> triangles. Could you possibly be referring to bars 9-16 of reel time
> (set to 1st corner, set to partner, set to second corner, turn partner
> halfway with both hands in pas de basque)? It's easier for me to
> see how that phrase could evolve into the modern double triangles
> than bars 1-8.
> Oh, well, we stooges are going to have quite a bit of "fun" with this
> between now and Summer School! Thanks again for the help; I'm
> always fascinated by the history of SCD.
> Lee
> --
> "Lee Fuell" <xxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx>

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