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It's Sunday morning and my nerves are back to normal, so here's the sorry tale of last
The first hour is for the advanced lot.
I had made a quick check during preparartion of who was likely to be there. Hmmm...
Yes - at least 10, maybe 12. My idea then became - Give them something which is new
to them, but not too difficult (i.e. with known formations) and watch the foot technique
(ready to do the technique AFTER the dance). Well, it's always a bit of a mental
challenge to do dances where the whole set dances, so let's put together some of those.
A 5-couple Reel - yes, a jig as well - yes, and here's Scotch Mist as a Strathspey to
round that off. Might as well have some 4-couple one's in reserve - one never knows -
better safe than sorry. "Drumelzier", maybe. The Jig (ex Reel) "Mercat Cross" is even
48 bars, that will get them to stop concentrating on their feet! Off we go.
"Where is everybody?" "Well, it's school holidays, didn't you know?". Drat, dash,
dagnab it (and other similar expressions). 3 couples. Now what to do? Out comes the
trusty laptop and we'll take a look in the database. A 3-couple-set Jig? Here we go -
"Joe Foster's Jig". I'll get them on that while I'm looking for something else. Wouldn't
you know it! Someone must have leaked what my aim was, the skip-change was pretty
d**n good. Just to be perfectionists we'll work on it for a few minutes... Fine. What
now? OK. In at the deep end - "Lanes of Au", here we come. Phew that was a struggle.
A nice little dance, but not a lot that one would say was 'standard' formations. Still it
took us 15 minutes, so I'm almost there. Elke has to go off to work with the beginners
now, so I'm going to have to dance with them in the next one. What CAN we do. Cries
for "Byron Strathspey" and "Neidpath Castle" I will ignore. They know those ones! (I'm
starting to feel a bit over-confident at this point). "The Moray Rant" - well, why not? 48
bars, but it's one of Drewry's better ones. Let's try.
Half an hour later, as the final chord plays, I thank the set (we actually succeeded in
doing it!) and hand over the teaching baton to Terry. The beginners join us and we are
ready for the social dancing. We are now exactly 7 couples.
He started with "Gothernburg's Welcome" Not the easiest one, but it's on our Ball
programme so we had better let them try. Do it in a 3-couple set? Don't think so. Let's
try Beg and Borrow in one 7-couple set.
It was VERY strange. We walked through it a couple of times and bars 5-16 were total
chaos. No time left, let's dance it. Perfection! nobody got lost - and nobody changed set!
Congratulations all round.
Time for the break. A swift beer will help the situation here, I think.
Back to dance. What now? "The Belfast Hornpipe"? Great. 2 3-couple sets. There are
always a few who WANT to sit out, so that's OK. Unfortunately, the 2 people who the
previous week were unable to pull right shoulders back and cast behind them didn't
come this week. This dance was brought in especially for them. Typical!
Oh dear - you've prepared 4-couple dances only for the rest of the evening? Half an
hour left to go. What to do? What to do?
Then comes my brilliant suggestion. "Em, I do know of a 7-couple dance. I've never
danced it, but I've been sent the instructions" (thanks Peter H.) "and it should be
do-able. It's called 'The Kelpie of Loch Coruisk'". "OK, why not?" they chorus.
(Warning now: I DON'T recommend this one for beginners.)
Sounds simple doesn't it? The first 8 bars get the dancing couples facing their 2nd corner
positions with the others in their partners' places. Now just do 4 half diagonal reels of
four. JUST! The walkthroughs were a bit of a mess (an understatement, really) but,
remember "Gothenburg's Welcome" earlier: when the music starts they will be ok.
The music starts. 32 bars of uncontrolled chaos. The music stops.
The music starts. 32 bars and 14 people closely resemble a herd of sheep. The music stops.
The music starts. 32 bars and the teacher doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. The music
"Ok guys. It's now 10pm. The evening's over. Sorry about that. We'll perhaps try that
again some day."
"NO, NO. One more try! We'll get it!"
Fair enough. One more try.
I would think that their pride had been hurt, because the music didn't have to be stopped
and we finished 7 times through (I suspect that not everyone danced from every position,
but being able to cheat well is a valuable SCD skill, so we'll let that pass).
Moral of the tale? Make sure you know when the school holidays take place and, especially,
have LOTS of dances in reserve.
Next week, I'm off the hook. I'll be at the Rechberg course together with a fair number of
people on this list and I will no doubt be stretching my mind and muscles at the whim of
dear Linda. See you all then.
> It's Sunday morning and my nerves are back to normal, so here's the sorry tale of last
> Friday's class.
> "Where is everybody?" "Well, it's school holidays, didn't you know?". Drat, dash,
> dagnab it (and other similar expressions). 3 couples. Now what to do?
I have tried to tell my class that if they are going to be absent they
require a note from their mother, but most of them say that their
ouija board is in the loft! Sorry, but I'm glad to hear that we
have the same problems - Friday night is just the wrong night of the
week to hold a class; even if they are off for a weekend break they
|_|_ |_| Malcolm & Helen Brown - York (UK) - firstname.lastname@example.org (Tir-Nan-Og)
|_| _|_| Connecting via NETCOM Internet Ltd
Well, well, a tale of chaos from Alan Paterson surrounding the Kelpie of
Loch Coruisk! I found this a very amusing tale with just a hint of deja
vu! Here's the way I discovered this dance.....
The Craigellachie Band used to play once a year in Cornwall, about 5
hours drive from civilisation (London!) Now this county has always had a
reputation for being a bit different from the rest of the UK and their
SCD society is no different (if you see what I mean).
It is a smallish dance but always quite fun and the MC and teacher, name
of Brian, has a taste for introducing dances which are not danced
anywhere else in our experience. Indeed, we have found this gig a great
source of dances to introduce to the London scene and, seeing the "K of
LC" on the programme were looking forward to seeing a 7 couple dance.
The locals had been well drilled and danced it with no problem and made
it look easy so we thought, Yep! this looks fun - lets import it.
Now Caroline, my wife, and I dance at our club in Wembley during the
winter, and run the Pont Street Summer Tuesdays in the summer. Wembley
usually have 20-25 people on a good evening, STs have 100+, so we
usually try new dances out on Wembley first. With just one set to
marshal, and the best dancers liberally distributed amongst the less
experienced we cracked it after just a couple of re-starts - the
verdict; What an excellent fun dance, just right for STs.
So without too much worry I pop the dance on a Tuesday night. well, the
first problem arose when one of my line-counters found that, needing six
extra couples, he had run out of fingers on the hand he had held up!
Never mind, after a few more couples had joined the throng, this was Ok.
I reckon I had 8 sets to cope with. Then came the walk-through. Not
exactly what I had expected but after a couples of goes and two re-
numbering sessions we were ready to try it to music. Cue the band.
Now bear in mind that Frank Reid is an accountant and often is heard to
say that there is only three types of accountant, those that can count
and those that can't. Well he is very good at watching first couple and
finishing when they return to the top and counting to 8 or 4 ceased to
be a challenge years ago. Counting to seven while watching the mayhem
about to unfold was going to tax his training to the full!
Within 32 bars the hall resembled a battleground with dazed and wounded
everywhere! Our nice and orderly 8 sets of 14 had mysteriously been
remixed to two sets of 30, 4 sets of 6 and 28 sets of 1! Another 32 bars
went by and Frank was looking on in amazement as 112 people all appeared
to be dancing from first place at the top of line 1. Well, the brave
then got well stuck in and with an amazing effort we re-constitued the
three lines within the next 64 bars and even got one original set re-
united. Frank, ever mindful of the tradition laid by the band on the
Titanic, masterfully played on and after on indeterminate number of
times through finished with a stirringly extended chord, allowing at
least half the hall to find their original partners to honour. Not our
most successful introduction to a new dance but certainly the most
This was about 3 years ago and, to show how short memories can be, I
have had at least 3 requests to repeat this effort, somehow I have
I was thinking about this one...and about a comment that made earlier
that pastoral airs promote a certain decrease in quality of the
strathspey step (at least, that's my interpretation of what was said).
While the airs certainly suggest a subtle but different movement, I think
a greater degeneration of the step (for the lack of a better phrase)
may be the result of dancing to contemporary strathspeys. With all due
respects to contemporary composers, many strathspeys bear
more resemblence to an Irish hornpipe than they do a Scottish strathspey
(they have more of a "humpty-dum-a-rickety-tum" feel to them). If
that's not enough, many contemporary bands like to take older
strathspeys and add syncopation and diminished chords to "make them
more interesting". While there probably are some valid social reason
why this is so in Scotland (I haven't been there in 15 years) those
reasons evade me.
More important than the different rhythm implied by any of these kinds of
tune, there's also the emotional content. Some of the "pastoral" airs
that are kinder in feel than the more hornpipey ones do have more pathos,
majesty and emotional weight. Of course, my overall preference is for
strathspeys with "oomph" such as Dalkeith's strathspey.
Certainly, all of this is a matter of personal preference and taste. I
was simply not accepting the fact that airs were being blamed for the
degeneration of the step. I think the truth is more complicated than that.
Certainly an interesting topic, though....
I like this. How would you describe the rhythm used for Dalkeith
Strathspey. (Just did it in Atlanta - super)
From: Etienne Ozorak <email@example.com>
(they have more of a "humpty-dum-a-rickety-tum" feel to them).
There was a glitch in my mail pickup the other night and I lost some
unread mail. If anyone out there sent me a personal message
during the last few days I would be grateful for a repeat, please?
Cheers, Ron :)
< 0 Ron Mackey,
/#\ London. UK.
Welcome to the club, it's all part of being a teacher and we have
all been there. The only constant is that if you plan to do a
number of four or five couple dances then you will be one person
short (including yourself, the lame, the halt and the beginner you
were going to suggest just watched this next dance).
And there is always something new. Last Thursday for the first
time - for me at any event - I had nineteen dancers including myself
- 8 women and 11 men and not a four couple dance on the plan! I had
always wanted to do the allemande in The Byron Strathspey as a
from the contrary-side anyway :)
PS this started out as a private reply but I realised all of the
teachers on the list can probably relate to it.
>Well, well, a tale of chaos from Alan Paterson surrounding the Kelpie of=
I too can relate to the recently reported experiences of teaching the
Kelpie. Our class were determined to learn this dance, come what may. W=
walked it through once and it seemed ok, so put the music on to try danci=
it once through. Chaos! I did a bit of partner switching, to even out t=
abilities of each couple and we tried again. 45 mins later we eventually=
managed to get all the way through, although there were a few minor
deviations along the way. Determination won the day!
I can also sympathise with Alan regarding preparing for classes. As I
teach a University class, I can never be too sure how may folk will turn
up, depending on essays, exams... Anyway, second week of term, I decided=
would start off in the right manner and prepared a plan for my class that=
night. (I usually wing it, when I see who turns up). Would you believe,=
got 3 experienced dancers and 10 total beginners. Help! My mind was rea=
to teach a technique class - the beginners weren't due for another hour! =
Anyway, the old favourites came out and when the books I had with me gave=
up, I made them up! The following week I thought I'll just use the plan =
had already put together. I got 4 men and no women. Time for some
Highland! I think I'll return to winging it....
Newcastle upon Tyne
May I suggest that bribery and corruption gets you everywhere - on iffy
days such as hols etc, try a party - everyone brings a dish of eats and
some brings drink and you do favorite dances which the requester calls
themselves - the teacher gets a brake, the dancers finds out it is not so
easy standing telling people to go down the middle and up and everybody
gets their fill.
Just a suggestion
Malcolm & Helen Brown - York (UK) wrote:
> Greetings, Alan.
> > It's Sunday morning and my nerves are back to normal, so here's the sorry tale of last
> > Friday's class.
> > "Where is everybody?" "Well, it's school holidays, didn't you know?". Drat, dash,
> > dagnab it (and other similar expressions). 3 couples. Now what to do?
> I have tried to tell my class that if they are going to be absent they
> require a note from their mother, but most of them say that their
> ouija board is in the loft! Sorry, but I'm glad to hear that we
> have the same problems - Friday night is just the wrong night of the
> week to hold a class; even if they are off for a weekend break they
> miss class!
> _ _
> |_|_ |_| Malcolm & Helen Brown - York (UK) - firstname.lastname@example.org (Tir-Nan-Og)
> _ |_|_
> |_| _|_| Connecting via NETCOM Internet Ltd
> May I suggest that bribery and corruption gets you everywhere - on iffy
> days such as hols etc, try a party - everyone brings a dish of eats and
> some brings drink and you do favorite dances which the requester calls
> themselves - the teacher gets a brake, the dancers finds out it is not so
> easy standing telling people to go down the middle and up and everybody
> gets their fill.
> Just a suggestion
I recall that many years ago we tried that once in John Linscott's
Cheers, Ron :)
< 0 Ron Mackey,
/#\ London. UK.
If I were to go into a class I was teaching with the belief that it is "my
class," I'm sure I would be frustrated in every session. But it's really
"their class," isn't it? I'm just there to enable them to learn dances
that they want to do or figures that they want to be able to execute well
at a social.
With this in mind, I think of some of the usual class attendees, and I
prepare dances that would suit them. I do this for several groups of
dancers. When I get to the class, I may have prepared three or four
complete classes, of which I do none -- or most probably, bits of each
one. I've found that classes I thought were great were frequently
regarded as so-so by the members of the class -- and classes where we
struggled together to ensure that they learned what they came to class to
learn received high accolades, reagrdless of my feelings about the class.
Then too, I've had classes where my most common remark is "Excellent
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
Alan's story of his class reminds me of mine. I was supposed to be doing
the dances for the New Scotland begginers dance (mainly 4 couple dances,
but with some 3 couple ones as well.) So I had instructions for most of
the dances and sorted out the music. When I got to the class I had two
people plus myself, which made things a bit tricky, so we decided to have
a Highland night instead.
We start with the Highland Fling (they have started this already). They
can now do 6 steps and are absolutely shattered. We need something a bit
more restful, but I only have 5 highland dances on my tape. Looks like we
are going to do the Lilt. After I sort my own feet out and about fifty
times of going through the first two steps, we give up and go home.
Here's hoping this week is better.
There are a few 3-person dances that I save for nights when the
numbers are dwindling:
Sego Lily, The (3 Dancers), strathspey
Three's The Charm (3 dancers), jig
TZK Reel (3 dancers), reel
With a couple more dancers you can do Reeling in the Annex,
Herself, and the Tantalus Jig. I try to keep a list of such
dances ready for those nights. When push comes to shove we might
have a 2-couple dance night where each couple does the dance from
the first position (once or twice), then rest for a repetition
(gasping for air) and repeat.
If your group likes highland there is also The Shepherd's Crook
and quite a few step dances. Sounds like you are already starting
to do those.
From: S.M. Gent <email@example.com>
We start with the Highland Fling (they have started this already).
can now do 6 steps and are absolutely shattered. We need
something a bit
more restful, but I only have 5 highland dances on my tape. Looks
are going to do the Lilt. After I sort my own feet out and about
times of going through the first two steps, we give up and go
On Wed, 21 Oct 1998, Richard L. Walker wrote:
> There are a few 3-person dances that I save for nights when the
> numbers are dwindling:
> Sego Lily, The (3 Dancers), strathspey
> Three's The Charm (3 dancers), jig
> TZK Reel (3 dancers), reel
I wrote the three couple dances (and 5 & 6 couple dances) that are in
Kitchen Capers and Cross Country Capers as a result of just such
Our next venture (Sylvia's and mine) will have a two couple "longwise"
dance in it as well as a 3 couple jig and 3 couple reel. Jim Healy,
Sylvia will be putting tunes in order for a good demo. Don't hold your
breath for the publication date, but I'm aimiing -- sort of -- for 1999.
Sylvia doesn't even want to think about a target date yet. Minor details
like a band whose members all work and who live 200 miles from each other
do get in the way.
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
Our first teacher kept a book called "Just Enough to Dance" handy,
and a couple of nights in our beginner's class had only three
students show up. We were able to do several three-person dances
(none of which I remember), which at least allowed for some footwork
practice without being too boring. Subsequently, Patty and I have
devised a couple of one-couple dances we can do in our den for
practicing one-couple formations (or half of two-couple formations
like pousette) and footwork while having some fun at the same time.
Plus, since you're continuously moving, it's a more interesting way
to get a workout than sliding to nowhere on a Nordic Track...
Lee Fuell & Patty Lindsay
Beavercreek, OH, USA
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Anything would be better than sliding to nowhere on a Nordic Track.
Personal opinion, and with no offense meant to Nordic Track in
Lee Fuell wrote:
Subsequently, Patty and I havedevised a couple of one-couple dances we
can do in our den for practicing one-couple formations (or half of
two-couple formationslike pousette) and footwork while having some fun
at the same time.Plus, since you're continuously moving, it's a more
interesting wayto get a workout than sliding to nowhere on a Nordic
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