Dashing White Sergeant

Richard Goss

Message 36477 · 6 Sep 2003 21:22:25 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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June 5 [Alan]

Actually, I find most "celeidh" type dances tiring for the reasons you mention.

However, DWS has a slightly different history which may explain some of the fatigue and also the other problems you mention.

Originally it was of the longways class known as "Swedish Progression", namely threesomes facing. In its original form it was in a longways of threesomes with those with having men in the center facing down the room, and those with women facing up. As a result, at the first rep, there were only six people dancing, those facing in the middle. After each rep a new threesome was added after the pass through until the actives reached the end of the room at which time they had a chance to rest for 32 bars as we do now in standard longways sets.

As the architecture changed from long narrow halls to wider ones many of these older longways forms became round the room in form: Ecossais [longways inproper] became Sicilian or Circassian (a generic form not a specific dance) Circles [qv Waltz Country Dance/Dutch Foursome], and "Union Dances" started as 4x4 longways and ended up round the room [pv La Tempete].

While the composer of the music, Bishop, had definite Edinburgh connections, he is really more a British than a Scottish composer, and our version of this dance of facing 3-somes, set to his music, is as commonly known in England as it is in Scotland.

Here we come to the problem of attempting to standardize a folk process. Left alone, "bad" choreography results in one of two phenomena, the dance either gets dumped [think of all the dead modern dances since book 19], or the choreography evolves into one more logical. Here, the flaw is based on the fact that the Society used an inductive approach. "In the Beginning was the Word ..." and everything that did not fit the word was ignored. The Society (see comments on Robertson´s Rant) had the idea that "set and turn" in fast time was a two handed operation, and following the "deasul rule" that turn must go clockwise. No problem with bars 9-12, but when repeated with 13-16 the turn caused the following reel to go in the wrong direction leaving the man facing backwards for the advance and retire. In the English version, where the modern Scottish rule held no sway, one sets and turns right hand right and the repeats by turning left hand left and producing the proper reel.

An unmentioned flaw is the problem as to who goes under the arch. In the original form of a longways, couples moving down go down and those moving up form arches, as is our convention in longways dances. The problem comes when one is moving round the room. The English convention, to me, is much more logical, since the tradition is that the right hand has priority over the left, the center person maintains the right hand and drops the left so that the left hand person, no matter how facing passes under the arch.

June 5 [Alan]

Yes, there is an RSCDS rule, which is just my point in the above and my comments on Robertson´s Rant. If we got rid of the absolute rule about one hand or two, there would be no reason for the rule. In other words if set and turn corners involved one hand the natural flow would be to turn the second by the left. Except of course when the left hand would produce the "wrong" reel as in actives on the opposite side of the dance having to cross back home at the end of the reel - which still could be done, but this would upset a lot of other rules/conventions.


June 5 [[Ian]

Sorry to be a "been there, done that" but such a dance already exists under another name. This phenomena falls under the heading of "logic of structure" in that if a pattern exists already (3x3 preceded 4x4) once the new pattern was created, logical thinking would adapt the old pattern to the new. This is what happened to the older ecossaise as mentioned above (2x2) when one takes a longways set and makes it into a square, one really has two intersecting minor 2x2 sets. So if one looks at the RSCDS dance, Circassian Circle, by intersecting the minor sets, doubling the music and alternate the 8 bars between the two sets, one gets the first "figure" found in many quadrilles.*

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*Anticipating comments regarding lancers, I hasten to add that lancers are a subset of quadrills based primarily on the selection of tunes (military, specific to cavalry, unless you are dancing the "Hussars").

R Goss

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