Extra Twiddles

Brown, Malcolm L

Message 4395 · 10 Jul 1996 18:08:29 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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The idea of changing dances because they are more fun to do that way,
is not novel, and certainly one could put forward a strong argument
to say that considering the number of people who add spins to the
start of Duke of Perth, either the first or the second time through,
then maybe that is the way we should dance it. (That after all is the
reason that the publications committee said that people should
take hands in the reels in Gates of Edinburgh). Unfortunately I have
a real problem in teaching the class on a Friday that the dance is
performed in a particular way, and then going to a dance on
Saturday and doing it differently; its bad enough when I make a
mistake at the dance!

Getting to the bottom of a dance has always been a problem,
especially when the third couple is wanted at the start of the next
repeat. I think that JD`s solution in Peat Fire Flame works well, and
it is a pity that it hasn`t been taken up by more people. (To be
honest, I would worry more about the way couples got to the
bottom in PFF if I could persuade more people that all three
couples were involved in the turn at the end.) The objection raised
about the dancing couple not cleanly "passing on the baton" is
I think suspect: In two couple dances every new couple should
be starting as the previous one has their third repeat; the
principle is one of continuing with the dance as long as there is
a couple below. This means that the original couple can
sometimes carry on well into the third repeat in some dances,
eg Miss Milligan's Strathspey and Miss Gibson's Strathspey.
(And if that is how the divisor of such a dance performs it,
who am I to argue?)

When changing dances, especially when teaching, I strongly
support the idea expressed by one of the Society's more
experienced teachers as "Consenting Adults". We should admit
to our class that it is not strictly correct, but that we are doing it
for a reason. For example I think that Johnnie Walker from the
Whiskey Collection is a splendid medley, but there are definite
problems in dancing a 4 couple grand chain in 8 bars in quick
time; the problems disappear if they dance 1/2 a grand chain,
and as the dance is usually repeated the dancers still finish back
in their original places. However I will be the first to admit that
this is not the way the dance was written, and that changing
it is almost an insult to the divisor; certainly with a set of fit
and active dancers I would expect them to do the dance
as it was devised.

Of course there are the creeping changes to dances which
sometimes arise through teachers putting an emphasis on a
particular point. Gates of Edinburgh would seem to be one
such, where I would think that the taking of hands was used
as a teaching aid to make the reels fatter than normal;
Similarly I would suspect that some teacher had a problem
in teaching the Fireside Reel, to make the first lady
cast but also dance above the 1st Man standing in 2nd lady`s
place, (s)he told them to dance under the arch made by
1st Man and 2nd lady - the result is that everyone thinks
that dancing under an arch is part of the dance!

Can anyone come up with an explanation as to the change
in Ship of Grace, other than its a lot more fun to change
places using setting than it is to use arches? (The printed
instructions are both clear and available.)

Malcolm Brown


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