Balance in line/Wild Geese (2)

Oberdan Otto

Message 23265 · 30 Oct 2000 00:01:35 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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>The point I was trying to make is that in balance in line,
>as I use the term (e.g. in Reel of the 51st), my hands are
>up at shoulder height and to the side although slightly
>forward for comfort and elegance sake - hence there is a
>small degree of stagger. In Wild Geese I set advancing and
>offer my hands forward at chest height to create a much
>more accentuated stagger or W shape which is why I see the
>figure as descriptive of wild geese flying in skeins. The
>hand and arm positions are completely different from those
>in the figure representing the straight lines of the cross
>of St. Andrew on the shoulder patch of the 51st Division.
>
>It's how I was taught the dance and it made sense to me
>then and still does.

And now, I suppose, based on Jim's experience I should ignore 3
decades of dancing the Wild Geese and 2 decades of teaching it as "1s
and 3s set advancing to balance in line", and now go for the "hands
forward" method.

Well, sorry folks, it's not going to happen. While Jim's descriptions
and rationale are interesting, they are insufficient to cause me to
change my methods. To me this falls into the category of "local
stylistic variation". If you want to dance it that way, fine. But
that method is not a-priori more "correct" than or superior to the
one I have been using.

I have always perceived the formations called or resembling "balance
in line" in the Wild Geese, Reel of the 51st and Scottish Reform as
identical. To me that is good, because then the same technique
applies to all three dances. I dance/teach it as oppositely facing
alternate dancers somewhat behind an imaginary central line so they
can comfortably take hands and can easily see the dancers to either
side. This means there is a perceptible zig-zag, or "W" relationship
between the dancers. It also means that the dancers do not have to
expend mental cycles puzzling out variants of "balance in line" or
"not-really balance in line"--they can channel their energies into
taking advantage of the social opportunities provided by one
formation danced the same in all instances.

The description in the current Manual (although organized
differently, is the same as in the 1985 revision of Won't You Join
the Dance) is:

"This formation is danced by three or four dancers in a line facing
alternate ways. It can be danced on the sidelines, across the dance
or diagonally."

This description says nothing of the "W" relationship I described,
but it does not proscribe it. When dancers are facing opposite
directions, there is a basic problem of "where" a dancer is
considered to be with respect to "a line" because no dancer has zero
thickness (e.g. tips of toes on the line? backs of heels on the line?
tips of toes 10.16 cm behind the line? vertical projection of tip of
nose to the floor on the line? center of mass directly above the
line?...). Since this is an UNDEFINED aspect of SCD, we are free to
choose something sensible--and my choice is what I described above.

Like all dances that have external associations with their
formations, I treat the association of the formation in the Wild
Geese with flights of geese as anecdotal and not as a physical
imperative. If we were really trying to emulate flights of geese, all
the dancers in the formation should be flying in the same direction
(or do alternate geese actually fly backwards???).

Cheers, Oberdan.

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