dances Burns did

Ed Pearlman

Message 58020 · 2 Feb 2010 19:55:40 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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I know it's well past Burns Night, but the question about what dances
Burns did is interesting. One he surely must have done was the Country
Bumpkin. According to the Gow Collection, this dance was done last at
every ball for some time. It was done long enough that 3 different
title tunes were published -- the Old Country Bumpkin, a great jig with
a surprising beginning; then the Country Bumpkin, which was the tune
Elsie Marly; and finally the New Country Bumpkin, which is now the title
tune for Hamilton House. The dance itself involved 9 dancers, 3 rows of
3, with the center one wearing a funny hat. They did setting and reels
in all directions, across, down and diagonally, and then were joined by
3 more dancers to make 3 reels of 4. I believe they did it enough times
that different men got to wear the hat and dance in the middle. Sounds
like a great time!

--Ed Pearlman

xxxxxxxxxx+xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx wrote:
> Strathspey Digest Tue, 19 Jan 2010 Volume 45 : Issue 7
>
>
> Date: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 08:20:51 -0000
> From: "Andrew Smith" <xxxxxxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx>
> To: <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx>
> Subject: Re: Dances that Burns did
> Message-ID: <3X881X3XX4X245X0X57XX79X5550577X@xxxxx001>
>
> It is quite obvious, as already mentioned, from 'The De'il's awa wi' th'
> Exciseman' ["There's threesome reels, there's foursome reels, There's
> hornpipes and strathspeys, man,"] and the vivid description of the witches'
> dancing in Tam o' Shanter, that Burns had some experience of dance/musical
> forms, as "Nae cotillion brent new frae France, but hornpipes, jigs,
> strathspeys and reels, Put life and mettle in their heels", and formations
> as "They reel'd, they set, they cross'd, they cleekit" and he was clearly
> aware of a degree of degeneracy as well.
> That this was not confined to the dancing of witches and warlocks may be
> inferred from his poem 'On the Duchess of Gordon's Reel Dancing'.
> Andrew Smith,
> Bristol, UK
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Rosemary Coupe" <xxxxxx@xxxx.xx>
> To: <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx>
> Sent: Monday, January 18, 2010 11:48 PM
> Subject: Re: Dances that Burns did
>
>
>
>> Robert Lambie wrote,
>>
>>
>>> Perhaps the best source would be a list of what was popular in the
>>> Dumfries area known as the Holmain manuscript, dated probably to the >
>>> years 1710 to 1720, which is a little before Burns, but the nearest I
>>> have been able to find.
>>>
>> There's also John McGill's 1752 record of the dances he taught in Dunse,
>> Berwickshire--not too far away. One dance in McGill is also in Holmains
>> (the name does end in -s). Also, three dances in Holmains are also in the
>> MS collection made by David Young for the Duke of Perth in 1737.
>>
>> One interesting thing about the Holmains MS is that it has quite a bit of
>> overlap with the country dances published by Playford and Walsh in London.
>> I tend to see it as a transitional source.
>>
>> Things moved pretty fast in the 18th C fashionable world, which valued
>> "newness" for its own sake, and when publishers vied with each other in
>> bringing out annual collections of the "newest" country dances. So I don't
>> think any of these early or middle 18th C sources can tell us much about
>> what Burns danced. The only Scottish publication contemporary with Burns
>> is the Bowie collection of c.1789, and that's mainly a collection of music
>> with instructions for 6 country dances probably made up by Bowie.
>>
>> The closest we can get to anwering the question which began this thread is
>> to describe what kind of country dances Burns may have learned at the
>> dancing academy in Ayr. It wouldn't be difficult to list the figures which
>> recur (over and over and over) in the published collections of the time.
>> Around Burns' time, newfangled figures like the "allmand" (not the SCD
>> allemande!) were beginning to infiltrate the traditional repertoire of
>> hands round, hands across, lead out sides, cross over two couples etc.
>>
>> A footnote: The McGill MS also gives instructions for two step dances
>> taught by John McGill at the Assembly Rooms in Dunse. We also have records
>> of step dances taught by rural dancies in Kirkcudbrightshire c.1824. So
>> for all we know, Burns may have donned his kirk-shoon and danced a few
>> capers and flings.
>>
>> Rosemary Coupe
>> Vancouver
>>
>>
>>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> End of Strathspey Digest V45 Issue #7
> *************************************
>
>
>

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