The Shepherd's Crook

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Message 60244 · 20 Jan 2011 20:51:25 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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Your foursome analogy does not work since there is no top, bottom, or progression in this dance. If there is a top, as in music, this means only that of the four dancers only two have the music to their right shoulder, and two to ther left, at the same time, this is also true of the bottom of the room. As a highland dance, the music is usually in the corner, or side, by this analoty. The focus of the dance is the judges, who are usualy on the same side as the audience, e.g. away from the music. I learned McNab dances from C Stewart Smith, as a member of the dem team he was teachingt. Some were popular on local country dance programs, as sort of a one-up-man-ship advanced item to separate the sheep from the goats - Bonnie Anne, comes to mind in that the majority of the choreography matches no pre McNab or pre MissM dancing in Scotland. Hugh Thurston, was one of the early McNab supporters, and even acted as her interpreter while she was teaching in Vancouver. As a part of my reaearch, I had long, and sometimes documented, discussions with both he and Emmerson, both academics in other fields. Both admitted, based on what they knew at the time I spoke to them, there is much in their publications (specificly Emmerson´s "Scotland Through Countrydances"), that they would no longer support, as they were writing through a McNab and MissM filter, instead of going to original sources, namely thay were simply writing interesting books for the market, using the current party line.

A bit of history here. The McNab dances ave a rather unusual history. When they came out, Miss M made a big deal about them, by the time I was dancing, but before my teacher´s training, they, along with those of Jamieson were strictly non RSCDS approved, though for different reasions, McNabb for reasons of authenticity, and Jamieson because of internal Glasgow-Edinburgh RSCDS politics. After the death of Miss M, the Jamieson dances were allowed back into the canon, and for good reason, e.g. they were more authentic then the majority of RSCDS dances, since they were living dances collected as performed, and not dead dances found in some book. In the case of the McNabb dances, these are simply the choreographies made up by a single person, and have no historical claim to any authenticity as in the aims of the society "country dances as danced in Scotland" since there is no record of them having existed in Scotland, or even Canada, before McNabb produced them. At her death, rumor has it that her "documentation" ended up with her niece, Setorius, I seem to recall, then living in San Diego. Those of us doing research at the time, hoped that some light would be shed on the subject, but this did not happen. I presented, one of these at the St Andrews Summer School in the early 70´s, "Caller Herrin´". My source was a woman, who danced them on the stage as sort of an entract of films before there were talkies. Her source was McNabb, but the trail ended there. As far as the dance itself goes, it seems to be a 2/4 paraphrase of Scottish Lilt, set to the Gow tune, with a few steps, that, other then this dance, exist no were in any English, Irish, or Scottish choreographies or repertoire. Nice show piece, since the Gow tune has geographical references to Edinburgh New Town, where fishwives would have been peddling their goods in Gow´s time. But in conjunction with the dance, simple a piece of ersatz folk lore appealing to the gullable.

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