strathspey Archive: Northern Virginia Dance

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Northern Virginia Dance

Message 12535 · John K. Andrews · 9 Jul 1998 02:06:17 · Top

The Northern Virginia Branch RSCDS will be holding a dance in
conjunction with the Northern Virginia Scottish Games. The dance will
take place at the Durant Center, 1605 Cameron St., Alexandria VA, at
8:00 p.m. Music will be provided by David Knight, fiddle; Alexander
Mitchell, fiddle; and Liz Donaldson, piano The cost is $12.00

Program:

Mrs. Stewart's Jig* 8x32J3 Book 35
Miss Milligan's Strathspey*+ 8x32S3 RSCDS Leaflet
Davy Nick Nack 8x32H3 Glasgow Assembly
Adieu Mon Ami 8x32S3 Book 24
The Duke of Athol's Reel* 8x32J2 Book 16
Fair Donald 8x32S3 Book 29
The Falls of Rogie+ 8x32R3 Alexander #1
Interval
The Kingston Jig 4x32J4 Graded and Social
The Reel of the Royal Scots+ 8x32R3 RSCDS Leaflet
Sugar Candie* 8x32S3 Book 26
The Triumph* 4x24R4 Book 1
The Sauchie Haugh 6x32S2 RSCDS Leaflet
Pelorus Jack+ 8x32J3 Dolphin Book
Mrs. MacLeod 8x32R3 Book 6

* RSCDS 75th Anniversary Dances.
+ Not recommended for beginners.

For additional information please contact Ellie Briscoe, 703-461-7383;
e-mail briscoe@access.digex.net, or Jay Andrews, 703-719-0596; e-mail
andrewj@erols.com

Northern Virginia Dance

Message 12536 · briscoe · 9 Jul 1998 05:10:53 · Top

By the way, this dance is on Friday, July 24.

ellie

On Wed, 8 Jul 1998, John K. Andrews wrote:

> The Northern Virginia Branch RSCDS will be holding a dance in
> conjunction with the Northern Virginia Scottish Games. The dance will
> take place at the Durant Center, 1605 Cameron St., Alexandria VA, at
> 8:00 p.m. Music will be provided by David Knight, fiddle; Alexander
> Mitchell, fiddle; and Liz Donaldson, piano The cost is $12.00
>
> Program:
>
> Mrs. Stewart's Jig* 8x32J3 Book 35
> Miss Milligan's Strathspey*+ 8x32S3 RSCDS Leaflet
> Davy Nick Nack 8x32H3 Glasgow Assembly
> Adieu Mon Ami 8x32S3 Book 24
> The Duke of Athol's Reel* 8x32J2 Book 16
> Fair Donald 8x32S3 Book 29
> The Falls of Rogie+ 8x32R3 Alexander #1
> Interval
> The Kingston Jig 4x32J4 Graded and Social
> The Reel of the Royal Scots+ 8x32R3 RSCDS Leaflet
> Sugar Candie* 8x32S3 Book 26
> The Triumph* 4x24R4 Book 1
> The Sauchie Haugh 6x32S2 RSCDS Leaflet
> Pelorus Jack+ 8x32J3 Dolphin Book
> Mrs. MacLeod 8x32R3 Book 6
>
> * RSCDS 75th Anniversary Dances.
> + Not recommended for beginners.
>
> For additional information please contact Ellie Briscoe, 703-461-7383;
> e-mail briscoe@access.digex.net, or Jay Andrews, 703-719-0596; e-mail
> andrewj@erols.com
>
>

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12541 · Lee Fuell · 10 Jul 1998 02:28:42 · Top

John & List,

Re:

> Date: Wed, 08 Jul 1998 18:13:06 -0700
> From: "John K. Andrews" <andrewj@erols.com>
> To: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
> Subject: Northern Virginia Dance
> Reply-to: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de

(snip)

> + Not recommended for beginners.

Just wanted to say, as one with only a bit over a year of SCD
experience, that I really appreciate this kind of footnote. I
suppose some beginners may find it offensive, but I know I (and I'll
bet most beginners) have trouble judging the difficulty of a dance
simply by reading or listening to its brief. This kind of help on a
ball program gives me a good idea when I should take a break or make
a restroom trip. I've had the experience recently of being asked to
dance a dance that was over my head, being unwilling to say no
(especially since they were calling for "one more couple" to fill out
a set) and being partly responsible for bringing that set to a
screeching halt. Don't want to repeat that mistake, and this kind of
info helps. Is it more common than not to do this?

Lee Fuell

P.S., the dance was "Bees of Maggieknockater..."

LF

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12543 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 10 Jul 1998 04:35:38 · Top

Hi Lee,

>I've had the experience recently of being asked to
>dance a dance that was over my head, being unwilling to say no
>(especially since they were calling for "one more couple" to fill out
>a set) and being partly responsible for bringing that set to a
>screeching halt. Don't want to repeat that mistake, and this kind of
>info helps. Is it more common than not to do this?

The "one more couple" situation occurs all the time. Often as not, the
result for the dancers in that set are unsatisfactory. It takes a fair
amount of discipline for a dancer to say "no" to the urgings of a would-be
partner who claims to be able to "get you through" this dance. "Getting
through" a dance you do not know is rarely a pleasant experience for you.
Unless you are very lucky (or very quick and skilled), your presence in the
set will not be a plus for the other dancers because of the high
probability that you will mess up. For a dance like the "Bees" it was
unfair of your partner to pull you onto the floor, partly because it is a
very busy dance and partly because your partner can't really help you very
much, because you don't spend much time together. However, I think it is
very likely that in this case there were a few other people in the set that
were "shakey" on the dance. If the other seven dancers in the set knew
their parts and you were attentive to the helping hands it is very unlikely
that you alone could have brought the dance to a halt.

You have touched on a broader subject of whether a dancer should join a set
for a dance s/he doesn't know. There are a lot of strong feelings on both
sides of this subject which you can find expressed in the archives over the
last couple of years. Some folks suggested that mistakes are normal
occurrences in dances and that to expect error-free dances is unreasonable.
Moreover, mistakes can add some "spice" to the dances. So we speculated as
to whether we should plan to make mistakes so as to spice up the dances,
and whether a planned mistake was actually a mistake or a "choreographic
variation". Most of the time BIG mistakes that cause dances to crash are
unpleasant, although they are occasionally a cause for great hilarity--but
too much hilarity of this kind can get old quickly.

One notion I suggested in a much earlier thread was that of the
"incompetent set". That is a set of dancers in which there are too many
people that don't know the dance well enough for the dance to work. Just
how many people that is depends a lot on the dance and on the skills of the
dancers. A dance like the "Bees" can easily accomodate 1 unskilled and
unknowledgeable dancer. The dance would have some difficulty with 2 such
dancers and would be very likely to break down on every repetition with 3
or more such dancers. This suggest another notion of "tolerance" of a dance
for unprepared dancers. A simple dance like The Rakes of Glasgow, has a
very high tolerance.

Cheers, Oberdan.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12544 · Lee Fuell · 10 Jul 1998 07:01:08 · Top

Oberdan & List,

Thanks for the insight on difficult dances; it's extremely helpful.
I can certainly understand the level of friction between on one hand
desiring to encourage dancers to dance (can't promote and preserve
the art form otherwise), but on the other trying to appropriately
discourage beginners from biting off more than they can chew. Tina
McKay from Indianapolis told us recently about a Napier Scale (if
memory serves) rating dances by difficulty, with "one ghillie," "two
ghillie," etc, ratings. Seems to me that including such a rating
scale with the dances on a program would be extremely useful,
especially to beginners. Many dances that sound easy when briefed,
even without complex formations like "Bees", are difficult in
practice due to the tempo of the dance or the way in which otherwise
simple formations are combined.

Beginners like me want to have fun and are eager to dance, but also
don't want to spoil anyone else's fun (at least, I hope other
dancers feel this way). Tactfully rating the dances by difficulty,
plus being careful to design programs with dances with a balanced mix
of easy and challenging dances seems to be a good approach - at least
from this beginner's perspective.

Thanks again,

Lee

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12545 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 10 Jul 1998 10:47:53 · Top

Lee Fuell suggests:

>Seems to me that including such a rating
>scale with the dances on a program would be extremely useful,
>especially to beginners.

We do something like this in our area (Southern California). The program is
posted and the dances are rated "B"eginner, "I"ntermediate or "A"dvanced on
the program. Moreover, as each dance is announced, so is its level.
Moreover, moreover, we handle briefings for B, I and A differently. "B"
dances are walked through as well as briefed so as to encourage as much
participation as possible. "I" dances are briefed (a complete, concise
statement of the dance). "A" dances most often receive a sequence reminder
rather than a briefing, because in most cases, a briefing for an "A" dance
isn't all that helpful--if you don't already know it, a briefing won't help
you. For "A" dances, we also encourage dancers to join a set only if they
really know the dance, as the dance is announced.

However, with all this warning and preparation, we still have the problem
of unprepared dancers joining sets that are not able handle their presence.
There are some people who are just not sensitive to the fact that sometimes
it would be better if they did not join a set or if they did not encourange
another unprepared dancer to join a set. Perhaps in our classes our
teachers could help raise the level of this sensitivity by discussing the
issue, but I do not know of a way to eliminate the problem altogether.
Whatever means are used to raise the dancers sensitivity (and common sense)
about this issue, we should remember to maintain respect and kindness for
the "errant" dancers. Let's never forget that this is a social activity.

Cheers, Oberdan.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12546 · Peter Hastings · 10 Jul 1998 11:18:01 · Top

One of my abiding memories of "The Bees of Maggieknockater" in this
context occured a couple of years back in San Jose. I was there on
business and went along to a local group for an evening's relaxation.
There were exactly two (or maybe three) sets of dancers available and
"Bees" was announced. A beginner, in his second week, joined one of the
sets which was otherwise full of experienced dancers. They effectively
handed this guy around for the full 256 bars but - and this was the magic
thing - he danced the encore himself. At the end he had a beaming smile
and I suspect SCD had another convert. The rest of the set were looking
pretty happy too.

Perhaps the label should read "Not recommended for more than one beginner
at a time"

Peter Hastings
Royal Observatory
Edinburgh
(:

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12547 · ferguson · 10 Jul 1998 11:32:16 · Top

Oberdan wrote:
> ...... Moreover, we handle briefings for B, I and A differently. "B"
> dances are walked through as well as briefed so as to encourage as much
> participation as possible. "I" dances are briefed (a complete, concise
> statement of the dance). "A" dances most often receive a sequence
> reminder rather than a briefing, because in most cases, a briefing for an
> "A" dance isn't all that helpful--if you don't already know it, a
> briefing won't help you. ....

Interesting thought. In our area (Netherlands, Germany, Belgium) it is
usually just the other way round: easy dances get a recap only, walk-
throughs are for the difficult or little-known dances. Often the floor
will ask for a walk-through if too many dancers feel unsure. But then many
ball programmes do not rate the dances.

Do your programmes supply text descriptions, Pilling (-type) diagrams, or
no dance data at all (and assume every dancer has a Wee Green Book ?)

Happy dancing,

Eric

|Eric T. Ferguson, van Dormaalstraat 15, 5624 KH EINDHOVEN, Netherlands|

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12548 · Anselm Lingnau · 10 Jul 1998 11:56:57 · Top

Eric T. Ferguson <ferguson@antenna.nl> writes:

> But then many ball programmes do not rate the dances.

Well, if they did that here they would find that the average program was
about 70% `A', 10% `B' and 20% `I' :^)

IMHO, for difficult dances the helpfulness of a walk-through just before
the event is often wildly overestimated. I've been to lots of balls
where a difficult dance was walked through once after much pleading from
the floor, only to collapse repeatedly once the music started. (There
might be a case for not including such dances on a ball program in the
first place, but, hey, this is Germany -- we *thrive* on difficult
dances, poorly executed!)

Anselm
--
Anselm Lingnau ......................... lingnau@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
Those who expect perfection in software delude themselves; those who promise
software perfection are liars. --- Sean Walton

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12549 · Ian Brockbank 05-Jan-1995 0951 · 10 Jul 1998 12:01:39 · Top

"Lee Fuell" <fuell@infinet.com> wrote:

> Tina McKay from Indianapolis told us recently about a Napier Scale (if
> memory serves) rating dances by difficulty, with "one ghillie," "two
> ghillie," etc, ratings.

As in suitable for dancers with 1 foot, 2 feet, ... ?

One rating scheme which tickled my fancy was a "hash rating" as in
"how big a hash you will make of it". This was at an event which
specifically included non-dancers (a 21st birthday party, if I
remember right) so they needed some guidance.

Cheers,

Ian
---
Ian.Brockbank@edo.mts.dec.com Edinburgh, Scotland
Grand Chain: The Scottish Dance and Music Resource:
--- http://www.tardis.ed.ac.uk/~ibb/scd/

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12554 · Lara D. Friedman~Shedlov · 10 Jul 1998 17:44:52 · Top

In Scotland, where I started dancing (mostly with University groups)
everyone had a wee green book and dance notes were often supplemented
(never replaced by, in my experience) Pillings style diagrams. In the
midwestern U.S., where I now live, hardly anyone I know has a wee green
book or can even read the diagrams, so not surprisingly they never appear
on dance notes.

--Lara
Minneapolis, Minnesota

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If a rock falls on an egg
Lara Friedman~Shedlov Too bad, too bad for the egg
laradf@alumni.si.umich.edu If an egg falls on a rock
Too bad for the egg
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On Fri, 10 Jul 1998, Eric T. Ferguson wrote:

>
> Do your programmes supply text descriptions, Pilling (-type) diagrams, or
> no dance data at all (and assume every dancer has a Wee Green Book ?)
>
> Happy dancing,
>
> Eric
>
> |Eric T. Ferguson, van Dormaalstraat 15, 5624 KH EINDHOVEN, Netherlands|
>
> --
> "Eric T. Ferguson" <ferguson@antenna.nl>
>
>

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12566 · Lee Fuell · 11 Jul 1998 01:28:41 · Top

Dare I ask? What is a Wee Green Book?

Lee Fuell

> In Scotland, where I started dancing (mostly with University groups)
> everyone had a wee green book and dance notes were often supplemented
> (never replaced by, in my experience) Pillings style diagrams. In the
> midwestern U.S., where I now live, hardly anyone I know has a wee green
> book or can even read the diagrams, so not surprisingly they never appear
> on dance notes.

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12569 · Benjamin Stein · 11 Jul 1998 01:44:50 · Top

I would like to, perhaps. start another thread based on this discussion.
The difference between "complex" and "difficult". As an experienced dancer
(over 25 years) now in my mid 70's I worry less about the complexity of a
dance than the physical demands that it makes on my body. I do wish that
leaders would understand that and, particularly when it is an unfamiliar
dance, make that distinction to the dancers before they get on the floor.

We have just returned from the Pinewoods English/Scottish session and are
distrubed by a new trend that we see in the music. That is, the musicians
"livening things up" by increasing the tempo of the music as the dance goes
on. Though this is mostly a problem with the English Country Dance
musicians it was perceptable in the Scottish ones as well. This may be fine
if you are 20, 30 or 40, but when you are in your 60's, 70's or 80's (yes
there were at least two people in their 80's) it becomes a real problem. We
often pick and choose our dances by the tempo of the music played for an
introduction as well as the formations and footwork involve, and it is
woriesome and at times downright dangerous when the music speeds up to the
point where we can't keep up with it. Bad knees, bad hips and artificial
joints are in danger. It is also not fair to the rest of the set when we
get in the way. What ever happened to "strict tempo"?

Ben Stein
Burlington, Vt USA
Dancers@Compuserve.Com

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12573 · Miriam L. Mueller · 11 Jul 1998 21:34:51 · Top

Ben -
Just taking this opportunity to say "hi" after the New Zealand trip -
nice to see some practical intelligence out there, and be reminded how
you and your wife added to our enjoyment!
Mimi Mueller

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"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12576 · Pia · 11 Jul 1998 22:46:31 · Top

Lee Fuell wrote:
>
> John & List,
>
> Re:
>
> > Date: Wed, 08 Jul 1998 18:13:06 -0700
> > From: "John K. Andrews" <andrewj@erols.com>
> > To: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
> > Subject: Northern Virginia Dance
> > Reply-to: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
>
> (snip)
>
> > + Not recommended for beginners.
>
> Just wanted to say, as one with only a bit over a year of SCD
> experience, that I really appreciate this kind of footnote. I
> suppose some beginners may find it offensive, but I know I (and I'll
> bet most beginners) have trouble judging the difficulty of a dance
> simply by reading or listening to its brief. This kind of help on a
> ball program gives me a good idea when I should take a break or make
> a restroom trip. I've had the experience recently of being asked to
> dance a dance that was over my head, being unwilling to say no
> (especially since they were calling for "one more couple" to fill out
> a set) and being partly responsible for bringing that set to a
> screeching halt. Don't want to repeat that mistake, and this kind of
> info helps. Is it more common than not to do this?
>
> Lee Fuell
>
> P.S., the dance was "Bees of Maggieknockater..."
>
> LF
>
> --
> "Lee Fuell" <fuell@infinet.com>

I have with great interest followed the discussions on Beginners "in over their heads"
when dancing.

A dance/ball with too many intricate dances tends for me to take some of the enjoyment
away. I would rather see a programme with easy dances so I can dance with the rest of
the set. Easy dances means that all can dance without being rated as beginner /
intermediate / exerienced / young / old / etc. etc. It shouldn't matter what you are,
as long as you enjoy dancing.

Also, in recent years I have noticed that a lot of dancing is done without interaction
between dancers at all, i.e. the 6-8 dancers in the set all dance individually - not
with each other. A trend I find most disturbing. Perhaps teachers should not only
concentrate on teaching where feet go, but also look towards teaching people how to
dance with each other, i.e. look at each other, smile and help each other - if we all
did this in our dancing, perhaps beginners would not feel like "outsiders". Perhaps a
good dancer is not a dancer who is technically and geographically correct at all times,
but a dancer who assists and helps and interacts well with other dancers.

Sorry to go on - snobbery on the dance floor is my pet hate

Pia

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12553 · Alex Tweedly · 10 Jul 1998 16:59:18 · Top

Peter Hastings wrote:

> One of my abiding memories of "The Bees of Maggieknockater" in this
> context occured a couple of years back in San Jose. I was there on
> business and went along to a local group for an evening's relaxation.
> There were exactly two (or maybe three) sets of dancers available and
> "Bees" was announced. A beginner, in his second week, joined one of the
> sets which was otherwise full of experienced dancers. They effectively
> handed this guy around for the full 256 bars but - and this was the magic
> thing - he danced the encore himself. At the end he had a beaming smile
> and I suspect SCD had another convert. The rest of the set were looking
> pretty happy too.
>
> Perhaps the label should read "Not recommended for more than one beginner
> at a time"
>

Or perhaps go as far as
"Recommended for exactly one beginner per set"

I also have my favourite memory of "Bees" (doesn't everyone :-).

A large, semi-formal event. Two ladies arrived wearing identical
dresses (not white, or plain red, or .... but bright, large floral
pattern).

Of course, they finished up in the same set (as 1st and 3rd ladies)
for Bees, with me partnering one (or was it both).

And for anyone out there who's wondering what makes that interesting,
I recommend you find 7 experienced dancers who already know the
dance, and ask them to demonstrate :-)

-- Alex Tweedly, ex-San Francisco.

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12561 · Malcolm and Helen Brown · 10 Jul 1998 23:14:28 · Top


> Peter Hastings wrote about the "Bees ...":

> > Perhaps the label should read "Not recommended for more than one beginner
> > at a time"

and someone else added
>
> Or perhaps go as far as
> "Recommended for exactly one beginner per set"

Perhaps I am missing something, but why can't you have two beginners
per set? - Providing they don't have to promenade reel with each
other at any time, i.e if one of them starts as an odd numbered couple
and the other starts as an even, then surely the dance should work just
as well?

As for beginners being persuaded by experienced dancers to make up
a set, I must confess to sometimes doing this - not because I want
to embarress the beginner, but because I assume that the other three
couples who are pleading for a fourth couple know how to do the dance.
The trouble is of course that when the dance breaks down the beginner
assumes it is their fault, not having enough experience to realise
that someone else has made the mistake.

Malcolm

--
_ _
|_|_ |_| Malcolm & Helen Brown (York UK) - m.brown@netcomuk.co.uk (Tir-Nan-Og)
_ |_|_
|_| _|_| Connecting via NETCOM Internet Ltd
|_|

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12567 · Alex Tweedly · 11 Jul 1998 01:31:22 · Top

> > Peter Hastings wrote about the "Bees ...":
>
> > > Perhaps the label should read "Not recommended for more than one beginner
> > > at a time"
>
> and someone else added
> >
> > Or perhaps go as far as
> > "Recommended for exactly one beginner per set"
>
>
> Perhaps I am missing something, but why can't you have two beginners
> per set? - Providing they don't have to promenade reel with each
> other at any time, i.e if one of them starts as an odd numbered couple
> and the other starts as an even, then surely the dance should work just
> as well?

Assume one beginner is 1st woman.

If the other beginner is 2nd woman, then second time through they are
1st and 4th couples, and there is no helpful hand to give the hint on
bars 29-32.

If the other beginner is 2nd man, then at the start of the reels, you
have 3rd man needing to help both into the reel. It could be hard to
give enough help simultaneously.

Symmetry shows same problems with any other two places.

So it *might* work - but would be high risk. Whereas a single beginner
*should* work (assuming suitably helpful other dancers, etc.)

Plus the 'single-beginner' case has the pleasing characteristic that the
beginner just joins in and everything works, without any shuffling
around to put the experienced folks in the right places.

So just what is a "suitably helpful" dancer ?
Why are some dancers so much easier to dance with, or to pick up
corrections or hints from than other (equally experienced and good)
dancers ?

What should teachers do to help here ? Any favourite tips or exercises
to teach dancers to be more helpful ?

I remember one teacher doing a great exercise in my first year
dancing. Half the class were told what the next figure (or couple of
ficures were going to be - and had to lead the other half through the
dance (at full speed) without talking. It led to some very obvious
hints :-) - but did leave a few ideas behind about what can be done
(and more importantly was a very fun interlude in the class).

> As for beginners being persuaded by experienced dancers to make up
> a set, I must confess to sometimes doing this - not because I want
> to embarress the beginner, but because I assume that the other three
> couples who are pleading for a fourth couple know how to do the dance.
> The trouble is of course that when the dance breaks down the beginner
> assumes it is their fault, not having enough experience to realise
> that someone else has made the mistake.

The comment earlier about a critical mass of beginners echoes what I
always thought about teachers. Every set containing more than N
teachers will screw up the dance - but they have enough
self-confidence that it is a hilarious breakdown rather than a
frustrating one. N varies between dances - but is rarely more than 2
or 3.

-- Alex Tweedly, ex-San Francisco

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12574 · Miriam L. Mueller · 11 Jul 1998 21:35:22 · Top

Alex -
Really enjoyed your Strathspey remarks about beginners - and teachers,
especially the final two paragraphs. I do wish someone had made that
remark about beginners being too inexperienced to realize when someone
else created the problem. I urge you to send bersions of both paragraphs
to the R&S, especially for the sake of those new dancers starting this
fall.
If you don't want to be bothered but don't mind, I can retype those
paragraphs (with an explanation of the discussion leading into the first
paragraph I suggest) adn send them on - my e-mail doesn't forward in an
R&S-usable format. But I'd rather you send something in - everyone would
love to hear from you!
Mimi Mueller

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"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12589 · Lisa Nelsen-Woods · 13 Jul 1998 17:14:14 · Top

>A dance/ball with too many intricate dances tends for me to take some of
the enjoyment
>away. I would rather see a programme with easy dances so I can dance with
the rest of
>the set. Easy dances means that all can dance without being rated as
beginner /
>intermediate / exerienced / young / old / etc. etc. It shouldn't matter
what you are,
>as long as you enjoy dancing.

I tend to agree with this statement. But of course it is difficult to
define what exactly a "beginner" is. Is it the number of years one's been
dancing or how easily one picks up difficult steps? In different cities or
different classes "beginner" means different things.

I experienced this at a workshop last winter. I've been SCD for 5 years so
I don't necessarily consider myself a green beginner. Then again,
considering that many people have been doing SCD for their lifetimes I
could still be considered a beginner. When all my parts work I tend to
pick up things and execute then quite well so I could be considered
(depending on the company I keep) an Intermediate or an Experienced dancer.

With this in mind I went to a workshop in another city. By looking at
Saturday night's ball program, I could tell that the branch that sponsored
the workshop were all very advanced dancers. I did quite well learning the
dances (and picking up many pointers) during the classes. Then came a walk
through for that evening's ball which almost caused me to quit SCD forever.

The ball program was very intricate and difficult. Due to various
circumstances I wasn't able to attend my branch's walk through of the
dances (Mistake #1) before the workshop. At the workshop I ended up in one
of the walk through sets at the end of the hall (Mistake #2). I also ended
up with a partner who had been only SCDing for a few months (Mistake #3).
Finally, my foot wasn't up to snuff so concentration was out the window
(Mistake #4). The result was a disastrous walk through at best.

After the walk through my partner then proceeds to tell me that he's been
only dancing a few months too and that I had better dance with the more
experienced dancers like I did in class and that's why I danced so well in
class. (I had no idea I was dancing with a "ringer" during classes.) After
looking at the ball program and seeing that the dances I learned in my
class weren't on the program, and the dances that I destroyed were, I
realized that I would be either sitting out or screwing up for the entire
ball. I left the workshop and drove 2 hours home in tears vowing that if I
can't even get a clue after 5 years I should hang up my ghillies forever.
After staying away from SCD for many months (and missing it terribly) I
comprised by vowing I will _never_ go to a dance/workshop/gathering in that
city again. But the incident has scarred me and my attendance now is
causal at best.

My point to this tale is when putting together a program _all_ levels of
dancers should be included. A rating system for the difficulty for each
dance is helpful as are some sort of diagram/description available for
study before the event. I'm not encouraging entire programs of simple
dances by any means (if I have to do Cumberland Reel one more time I'm
going to scream!) or excluding some of the difficult and intricate dances
(which I have danced and enjoyed very much). A program that tends to tip
too far on either end of the scale (either too easy or too hard) isn't much
fun. And isn't the whole point of SCD fun?

Lisa Nelsen-Woods
Columbus, OH USA

www.geocities.com/Athens/Troy/3883

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12579 · ians · 11 Jul 1998 22:54:03 · Top

> So just what is a "suitably helpful" dancer ?
> Why are some dancers so much easier to dance with, or to pick up
> corrections or hints from than other (equally experienced and good)
> dancers ?
>
> What should teachers do to help here ? Any favourite tips or exercises
> to teach dancers to be more helpful ?

By, this thread seems to be hitting my hot buttons ...

My pet peeve on this subject: not all of like to be "helped" by being
man-handled. A gentle nudge, point, or word can be great, but when
someone suddenly _grabs_ me on the dance floor to try to steer me in
the right direction, I feel like I'm being assaulted. If someone's OK
with being grabbed, fine, but not all of us are.

--
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Ian Sutherland email: ians@research.bell-labs.com
Bell Labs, Naperville, IL
Sans Peur

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12581 · Benjamin Stein · 12 Jul 1998 01:34:39 · Top

Thank you Mimi. Nice to hear from youo. Still dancing and we are going to
Italy this November for a week in Sorrento and a week in Tuscany (not a
dance trip).

Love from Ben and Dot

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12584 · Colleen Putt · 12 Jul 1998 22:29:28 · Top


> By, this thread seems to be hitting my hot buttons ...
>
> My pet peeve on this subject: not all of like to be "helped" by being
> man-handled. A gentle nudge, point, or word can be great, but when
> someone suddenly _grabs_ me on the dance floor to try to steer me in
> the right direction, I feel like I'm being assaulted. If someone's OK
> with being grabbed, fine, but not all of us are.

Hear! Hear!
My pet peeves are
a) those who squeeze my hand too tightly in a mistaken attempt to steer me
into the direction he/she wishes me to go (and not always correct about it,
neither!), and
b) those who direct the whole set by bawling out instructions. (This has
the double fault of drowning out the music and confusing other dancers)

As a teacher, I often find myself guilty of the latter, but AM working on
the tendency. I really like the exercise of giving one partner a set of
instructions, and then having him/her guide the rest of the set through the
formation non-verbally. It sometimes makes for some hilarious antics, but
gets the point home.

Cheers,
Colleen

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12594 · Eric H. MacKay · 13 Jul 1998 21:30:25 · Top

Lisa Nelsen-Woods wrote:
>
> >A dance/ball with too many intricate dances tends for me to take some of
> the enjoyment
> >away. I would rather see a programme with easy dances so I can dance with
> the rest of
> >the set. Easy dances means that all can dance without being rated as
> beginner /
> >intermediate / exerienced / young / old / etc. etc. It shouldn't matter
> what you are,
> >as long as you enjoy dancing.
>
> I tend to agree with this statement. But of course it is difficult to
> define what exactly a "beginner" is. Is it the number of years one's been
> dancing or how easily one picks up difficult steps? In different cities or
> different classes "beginner" means different things.
>
> I experienced this at a workshop last winter. I've been SCD for 5 years so
> I don't necessarily consider myself a green beginner. Then again,
> considering that many people have been doing SCD for their lifetimes I
> could still be considered a beginner. When all my parts work I tend to
> pick up things and execute then quite well so I could be considered
> (depending on the company I keep) an Intermediate or an Experienced dancer.
>
> With this in mind I went to a workshop in another city. By looking at
> Saturday night's ball program, I could tell that the branch that sponsored
> the workshop were all very advanced dancers. I did quite well learning the
> dances (and picking up many pointers) during the classes. Then came a walk
> through for that evening's ball which almost caused me to quit SCD forever.
>
> The ball program was very intricate and difficult. Due to various
> circumstances I wasn't able to attend my branch's walk through of the
> dances (Mistake #1) before the workshop. At the workshop I ended up in one
> of the walk through sets at the end of the hall (Mistake #2). I also ended
> up with a partner who had been only SCDing for a few months (Mistake #3).
> Finally, my foot wasn't up to snuff so concentration was out the window
> (Mistake #4). The result was a disastrous walk through at best.
>
> After the walk through my partner then proceeds to tell me that he's been
> only dancing a few months too and that I had better dance with the more
> experienced dancers like I did in class and that's why I danced so well in
> class. (I had no idea I was dancing with a "ringer" during classes.) After
> looking at the ball program and seeing that the dances I learned in my
> class weren't on the program, and the dances that I destroyed were, I
> realized that I would be either sitting out or screwing up for the entire
> ball. I left the workshop and drove 2 hours home in tears vowing that if I
> can't even get a clue after 5 years I should hang up my ghillies forever.
> After staying away from SCD for many months (and missing it terribly) I
> comprised by vowing I will _never_ go to a dance/workshop/gathering in that
> city again. But the incident has scarred me and my attendance now is
> causal at best.
>
> My point to this tale is when putting together a program _all_ levels of
> dancers should be included. A rating system for the difficulty for each
> dance is helpful as are some sort of diagram/description available for
> study before the event. I'm not encouraging entire programs of simple
> dances by any means (if I have to do Cumberland Reel one more time I'm
> going to scream!) or excluding some of the difficult and intricate dances
> (which I have danced and enjoyed very much). A program that tends to tip
> too far on either end of the scale (either too easy or too hard) isn't much
> fun. And isn't the whole point of SCD fun?
>
> Lisa Nelsen-Woods
> Columbus, OH USA
>
> www.geocities.com/Athens/Troy/3883
>
> --
> Lisa Nelsen-Woods <nelsen-woods.1@osu.edu>
I have to agree with Lisa on this one. If I am right, that particular
ball had a terrible program. I have only been dancing for about three
years but I have attended many workshops and balls in those three
years. I realize that it is difficult to know just what caliber of
dancers will show up at a ball and to plan accordingly, but there must
be some kind of trick to the trade that is followed or else there
wouldn't be too many balls.

I have to say, though, that the Chicago group did an excellent job this
year at their workshop. I had not danced many of the dances before,
but, I found that by listening hard to the briefs, that I was able to
dance the dances and not bring any of the sets to a screeching halt.

There is nothing that says easy dances have to be boring dances, is
there? I don't mind challenging dances, but if a dance has been known to
break down repeatedly then it doesn't belong on the ball program. Or if
you insist on having that dance, then don't dance it in you own private
little set. Spread out and hopefully, you can help some of the visiting
dancers get through the set as well and then we can all enjoy the dance
as well.

Sorry for the soap box.

Tine

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12595 · Richard L. Walker · 13 Jul 1998 22:06:28 · Top

Good points. Until I win the lottery, I (mostly) use two criteria when
selecting which weekend dances to attend -- 1. whether there are one or two
evening dances and 2. how difficult the majority of dances will be. There
are a couple places I truly enjoy dancing, but that I almost routinely avoid
due to the complexity of the dances. A few challenging dances can be a lot
of fun since you can learn them at home and be ready when you go but one
after the other for an entire program appeals to only a few. Care should be
exercised selecting even the few difficult dances on any program. I attend
at least one program each year that seems to have a dance with one or two
sets dancing, and about 20 sets cooling their heels on the sidelines -- and
this result can usually be predicted when reading the program a month or
more before the event.

>There is nothing that says easy dances have to be boring dances, is
>there? I don't mind challenging dances, but if a dance has been known to
>break down repeatedly then it doesn't belong on the ball program. Or if
>you insist on having that dance, then don't dance it in you own private
>little set. Spread out and hopefully, you can help some of the visiting
>dancers get through the set as well and then we can all enjoy the dance
>as well.

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12596 · Colleen Putt · 13 Jul 1998 23:19:16 · Top

Part of the problem with this tendency for sets to fall apart because there
may be more than one beginner in it is that the sets fill up at the top of
the room fairly quickly with those who are enthusiastic about the dance or
are quite knowledgeable already. Therefore, the sets at the bottom of the
room tend to be made up of the "waifs and strays", and are thus more likely
to lack confidence and/or experience.

One of the ways I try to prevent this is to make some dances on the
programme "beginners' choice", or, when announcing the next dance, remind
the more experienced dancers to invite less experienced dancers to the
floor.

Cheers,
Colleen

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12556 · ians · 10 Jul 1998 19:32:35 · Top

> One of my abiding memories of "The Bees of Maggieknockater" in this
> context occured a couple of years back in San Jose.

Thanks _very_ much for sharing this story. Ball programs aside, I get
a bit weary of people who act like beginners should be "shielded" from
"difficult" dances. I started with a group where that was definitely
_not_ the philosphy, and I feel I'm a far better dancer for it. The
fellow in your story may feel similarly. I hasten to add that the
"throw them in over their heads" philosophy should not be taken so far
that people get pressured into unpleasant experiences (else they may
stop coming!). The experience you describe sounds like my ideal:
beginners doing both easy _and_ difficult dances with the help of
tolerant experienced dancers.

Sorry if I sound sharp, this is one of my pet peeves.

--
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Ian Sutherland email: ians@research.bell-labs.com
Bell Labs, Naperville, IL
Sans Peur

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12557 · Michelle C. Nogales · 10 Jul 1998 20:58:24 · Top

Well, now, wait a minute. It seems to me we are putting an awful
lot of the burden for staying out of difficult dances on the beginners -
who are, by definition, inexperienced. I was a beginner not too long
ago, and I have several rather unpleasant memories of being urged
repeatedly and insistently to join a dance I was completely unprepared
for. Of course I failed miserably most of these times, sometimes even
bringing the whole set to a halt. Terribly embarrassing.
I would never have gone into those dances if some purportedly
advanced dancer had not refused to take "No" for an answer; I was very
self-conscious about making mistakes. At times I said "No" two, three,
and even four times, explaining that I was a beginner and unfamiliar with
the dance in question; only to be pressured so strongly by someone who
swore he could get me through it, and by the stares of everyone in the
set he was holding up by insisting on convincing me to dance, that I
would eventually give in.
Eventually I got enough experience under my belt to be firm with
these individuals who couldn't bear to miss out on one dance. (Well,
usually. Don't ask my classmates about a certain set of "Irish Rover"!)
But it seems to me that beginners are going to be unsure of themselves
by definition. It is the more advanced dancers who need to be aware of
how much pressure they are putting on a beginner, and learn to take "No"
for an answer! I don't like to miss out on a favorite dance because I
can't get a set together, when there are dancers standing around, either.
But I prefer that to trying to herd a bewildered and embarrassed
beginner through a dance they're not at all prepared for. No fun for me
or for them.
Back to lurking...
Cheers!
Michelle Nogales
Dunsmuir Scottish Dancers
San Francisco Branch

Beginners

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"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12558 · Ron Macnaughton · 10 Jul 1998 21:21:14 · Top

Great issue to raise.

In Toronto the monthly dances (but not major balls) were rated so beginners
knew which dances to try. For some reason, perhaps because a new person
took over the responsibility for monthly dances, this practice was
discontinued.

A committee in Toronto is addressing the whole issue of how to make Scottish
Dancing more welcoming for beginners.

My recollection as a beginner is that the reception and feeling of success
at my first non-class dance was critical to my decision to keep with
Scottish dancing. It would only have taken one disasterous dance followed
by a snide comment from a seemingly experienced dancer to have turned me off.

A rating system might make the transition from beginner classes to major
dances easier.

Ron Macnaughton
Bolton Ontario

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12559 · Freeman/Pavey · 10 Jul 1998 22:12:57 · Top

I think that Ron has hit the nail on the head it's the
" snide comment from a seemingly experienced dancer"
that puts a beginner off as well as those programs which obviously don't
want beginners to attend, those that are rated and 80% are difficult
dances.
Unfortunately rude people will be rude with their comments and "rolling
of eyes", but we dedicated beginners just try and stay away from their
sets.
We also stay away from dances that don't want us or in the case of one
local Ball when it was suggested I come and "watch", I practiced and
practiced so I could dance every dance!
We here in Lanark County are 90% beginners, all of our programs reflect
this with the occassional difficult dance for those who are experienced.
We will walk those when it is requested and display the dance
descriptions on the walls. We will try and be as welcome to all those
that want to dance and those who are open and forgiving of those who are
learning. Our goal is to have 90% experienced dancers in the future.

Susan Freeman, Maberly

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12562 · Hugh Goldie · 11 Jul 1998 00:25:14 · Top

> "Bees" was announced. A beginner, in his second week, joined one of the
> sets which was otherwise full of experienced dancers. They effectively
> handed this guy around for the full 256 bars but - and this was the
> magic thing - he danced the encore himself. At the end he had a beaming
> smile and I suspect SCD had another convert. The rest of the set were
> looking pretty happy too.

This is exactly what happened to me when I moved to Boston and danced for
the first time at the Brookline class, with about six months of dancing
experience. Naturally I was a little nevous about meeting a lot of new
dancers and about fitting in. One of the locals grabbed me and convinced
me to try The Irish Rover and said that they would help me out. I was
handed around by seven experienced dancers, had a great time and felt that
Boston must be a very nice place to dance (which it is).

> Perhaps the label should read "Not recommended for more than one
> beginner at a time"

I guess this works, if the beginner and *all* seven other dancers are
receptive to the idea.

Hugh Goldie Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
goldie@duke.usask.ca

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12563 · Martin.Sheffield · 11 Jul 1998 00:31:08 · Top

Anselm wrote:
>hey, this is Germany -- we *thrive* on difficult
>dances, poorly executed!)

Could we thrive together some time?
France & Germany have much in common.

By the way, does anyone dance in Darmstadt?
We shall be there for a day or two next week. I'd love to thrive!

------------------ http://perso.wanadoo.fr/scots.in.france/

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12565 · David Booz · 11 Jul 1998 01:10:42 · Top

Further to:

> I would never have gone into those dances if some purportedly
>advanced dancer had not refused to take "No" for an answer; I was very
>self-conscious about making mistakes. At times I said "No" two, three,
>and even four times, explaining that I was a beginner and unfamiliar with
>the dance in question; only to be pressured so strongly by someone who
>swore he could get me through it, and by the stares of everyone in the
>set he was holding up by insisting on convincing me to dance, that I
>would eventually give in.

Reading this, it occured to me that maybe we are doing the wrong thing by
cajoling people onto the dance floor to make up that last set. When a dance
is called, the dancers who want to dance make their way to the dance floor.
Those left sitting on the sides either don't want to dance, or (sometimes)
cannot find a partner. Helping the last few dancers find partners is good.
But twisting the arms of people who don't want to dance is not good.
Usually, the caliber of the dancing decreases as you move away from the
band, and often that last set is a disaster waiting to happen. So we drag
reluctant dancers into sets that are already full of unsure dancers, and we
get big disasters.

Unfortunately, I have no suggestions about what to do about this. There
will always be unsure dancers at the bottom of the hall, and there will also
be partial sets needing "one more couple". Maybe, just maybe (don't jump
all over me for this, please!) it would be better to encourage that partial
set to sit out rather than drag people in and have the whole thing
disintegrate. Which is more discouraging - having to sit out, or having the
set turn into a frustrating mess?

David Booz
Waterloo, Ontario
dbooz@golden.net

"Not Recommended for Beginners"

Message 12578 · ians · 11 Jul 1998 22:48:33 · Top

> Maybe, just maybe (don't jump
> all over me for this, please!) it would be better to encourage that partial
> set to sit out rather than drag people in and have the whole thing
> disintegrate.

As usual with these things, I think the optimal behavior is somewhere
in the middle. I think it's fine (and even desirable) to encourage a
few people sitting out to get in; some people just need a little
encouragement to try, and can then have a lot of fun. I think it's
_not_ fine to let "encouragement" become "arm-twisting". I've done
some great dances that I was "cajoled" into doing, and seen some people
get really obnoxious about pressuring people to get up and dance. I
think moderation is the best course. As with asking out women, it's
fine to ask, but "no" means "no" :-)

> Which is more discouraging - having to sit out, or having the
> set turn into a frustrating mess?

This really depends on the dancers. I've been in some dances that
_really_ fell apart, but that were really fun nonetheless. In fact,
it's especially amusing if the set repeatedly manages to recover from
mistakes, which it's difficult to learn to do if you stick to the
dances that are easy for you. I wouldn't like a _steady diet_ of sets
that are constantly recovering from mistakes, but it's pretty funny
sometimes. Of course, if half the people in the set are scowling at
the mistakes, or trying to fix blame and making rude comments to the
people "responsible", that's not much fun.

--
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Ian Sutherland email: ians@research.bell-labs.com
Bell Labs, Naperville, IL
Sans Peur

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