Machine without Horses

Patricia Ruggiero

Message 32645 · 21 Nov 2002 04:28:36 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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Thanks, Jim, for your reply.

>Pity you didn't make it to my talk at Summer School on interpreting old
dances, Pat. I used exactly this example...

Drat, and I missed it.

>...and now that you have asked for it on Strathspey I'll need to find
another good example :(

I'm always available as an audience.

>A few comments. The (R)SCDS was never conceived as an academic institution.
The main function was simply to keep traditional style SCD going. Therefore,
dances have never been re-created but interpreted and adapted to the style
which has itself been interpreted and adapted and continues to evolve.

Yes, I knew that. My interest in historical dance springs from other
impulses. I'm curious as to what dance meant to people of the earlier
times, how they perceived the dancing experience, and what the particular
dance aesthetic says about those people at that time. What did the dances
look like, and how did it feel to dance them? What was the "figure du jour"
at any given time? So, for example, if "24 dances for the year 1772"
contains only 4-bar casts, what does that say about the dance style for that
year? Certainly the 4-bar cast looks and feels different from set and cast.
Does the 4-bar cast represent a more leisurely style of casting and, if so,
what does that say about folks' taste in casting that year?

This is more than an idle curiosity, I admit, but it's not so compelling
that I'm frantic to change RSCDS dances back to what they were. I find very
little to criticize in RSCDS interpretations, other than the occasional
oddball reconstruction (such as Hooper's Jig); even then I'm sympathetic,
understanding very well what it's like to be confronted with often
incomprehensible original instructions.

>3. Putting aside the research hat and speaking in a purely personal
capacity, I was taught, have always danced and still teach that second
couple "shadow" top couple's cast. I have never found it awkward...

I wasn't taught that version; I don't teach it; but I prefer to dance it
that way as long as my partner agrees.

>4. And, so to the nub of the matter:
Cross over one couple, right and left. This is not cross and cast.

Do you know what it is? One source I have, for Early American dances,
describes this as cross, cast, turn either half or one-and-a half to own
sides (8 bars). Hugh Thurston, in _Scotland's Dances_ talks about "cross
over two couples" as incorporating a cast, but he doesn't actually describe
the "cross over one couple," saying only that it is explained in Dukes,
Wilson, and Chivers.

>Neither is it right and left as we know it, Jim. Country dancing right and
left involved couples changing places diagonally and then back.

My Early American source shows the Wilson 1808 version of this, a 4-bar
figure. There is also a diagram of Welch's ca.1767 4-bar version, which is
quite different.

Right now I'm stuck on that last figure, not knowing how to interpret the
"cross over one couple." I assume the right and left was done from the
proper, progressed positions, but I can't figure out how to get the dancers
there in the first four bars of that last phrase.

>HTH

Indeed, yes. Thanks again.

Pat
Charlottesville, Virginia
USA

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