Bar Three in Chains

Oberdan Otto

Message 42517 · 17 Oct 2005 08:46:08 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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>Nowadays (ugly new-fangled invention, if you ask me), the women
>dance past each other and the men dance *towards* their partners'
>place. The turn on 3-4 is not centered, but moves a bit to get the
>dancers properly positioned at the end of it.
>
>Seriously, personal prejudices aside, I'd be curious if anyone knows
>what was the impetus for the change.

Sorry to be a bit late on this one. I heartily agree with Beth's
characterization of the current Ladies Chain. For a long time the
change was one of my hot buttons. To me, the fact of the change and
the way it was handled epitomized everything that was wrong with the
RSCDS at that time.

I cannot imagine any rational motivation that would have been
sufficient to warrant the change. The original (which Goss ably
described in simple diagrams in a recent post) was clear in its
description and straightforward in its execution. It was a challenge
for the Ladies to go right round each other to the position directly
opposite their starting position in 2 bars, but that challenge was
not beyond any of the dancers in my classes at the time. On the
contrary, it was part of what made the figure interesting. The
current version is fairly vague in positioning and timing. A
consequence, in our area at least, is that it is generally a sloppily
done figure.

In one edition of "Won't You Join the Dance" (blue?) the wording was
"Men dance INTO the women's places" and in the next edition (purple?)
it was "Men dance TOWARD the women's places". My recollection is that
this change happened after Miss Milligan died.

The change was done without fanfare, except that candidates returning
from EXAMINATIONS told us stories about how they were being required
to dance and teach the figure differently. My reaction was one of
utter puzzlement. Why were we being told by newly examined teachers
how the Ladies Chain is supposed to be danced? Why is there a change
at all? And whose face is being saved here at the expense of the rest
of us? (I imagined that some high-up individual put their foot in it
by insisting the new version to be correct and then had to follow up
and make it be).

In the intervening years, I have become more philosophical about this
change. I am still annoyed that the RSCDS has never come clean on
this change and why it was forced upon us. It is not an improvement.
It is just different.

A number of years ago, I had an epiphany which helped me do a better
job of teaching the current Ladies Chain. I imagine that many other
teachers use this same technique, but I have not heard it described.
The technique is to have the dancers aim toward momentarily forming a
diagonal line (much like a balance-in-line) just as the ladies finish
turning each other and begin turning the men (at the ends of bars 2
and 6). This technique does not solve the other difficulties in the
formation, but does give the dancers a definite place to be at a
definite time and helps clean up otherwise poorly done Ladies Chains.

Oberdan.
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Previous message: Tak Tent (Richard Goss)
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