strathspey Archive: Keeping the styles separate

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Keeping the styles separate

Message 2046 · Alan Paterson · 29 Jun 1995 17:25:47 · Top

Having sort of started this discussion without having stated my personal opinion, I
now feel that the time has come for me to stand up and be counted (I reckon the
answer may well be 1).

I personally dislike strongly the 'crossover' of doing steps/figures from one dance
discipline in another. This attitude dates back from my time as a rock-n-roll dancer
when I saw the influx of jazz dance coming in and, to my mind, ruining the essential
character of the dance. So I confess that the idea of being present when someone does
a 'cossack' figure in an eightsome fills me with horror.

I believe that the more that this happens to any dance discipline, then the more it
loses its own particular character.

To extend this to isolate Strathspey and Reel/Jig steps from one another requires yet
another level of involvment. For me, a strathspey is a strathspey. It has it's own
character, its own steps and a lot of its own formations. To do these things in
reel-time subtracts from the essential nature of the strathspey (the same thing
applies, to a lesser degree perhaps, in reverse). Of course, these dances do have a
lot of formations in common and you can say that my argument then breaks down. Well,
you're right - it does. But I still believe in it (when has faith ever been affected
by facts?).

Thgse who know me will (I hope) describe me as being fairly tolerant of other peoples
opinions so I hope that this won't be taken as a statement along the lines of "All
Hail to the mighty RSCDS", but the achievment of Miss Milligan et al was to define
accurately a dance style such that it attained a concrete character which had by then
almost faded to oblivion. This was done by concentrating on a well-defined set of
elements and eliminating things which caused this character to lose definition.
Having done that, there have since been many new things introduced and accepted by
the RSCDS which extend the repertoire and are still good SCD (think of the Rondel,
the Tournee, Espagnol etc.) I most certainly do not believe that things should stand
still - but they MUST allow the 'identity' of the dance to remain well-defined.

I also believe that there are still many things one can do which violate current
RSCDS 'rules' but which are still SCD - but please don't ask me for an exact
definition of where this stops and 'foreign elements' start. This is very much my own
feeling.

As a final point from me on doing 'funnies' in the eightsome or any other dance. I
have two rules:

1) It must be SCD (see previous paragraph)
2) It must never cause any other dancer to get into trouble or be made to feel
uncomfortable (e.g. don't birl without being sure your partner wants to)

OK. I've said my bit - now fire away.

============================================================================
Alan Paterson
Berne, Switzerland
alan@paranor.ch

Keeping the styles separate

Message 2047 · DEC Livingston · 29 Jun 1995 18:29:30 · Top

Alan Paterson summarises:

>As a final point from me on doing 'funnies' in the eightsome or any other
>dance. I have two rules:
>
>1) It must be SCD (see previous paragraph)
>2) It must never cause any other dancer to get into trouble or be made to feel
>uncomfortable (e.g. don't birl without being sure your partner wants to)

I agree with these rules, particularly the second, _when the dance is being done
in the context of Scottish Country Dancing_ The Eightsome is now a very popular
ceilidh dance, done by the masses (though no-one knows how it goes) and taught
at school, and hence to my mind falls outside of the scope of these rules. My
previous postings about the Eightsome have been based on observation of it "in
the wild" ie at ceilidhs where the vast majority of the participants were not
Scottish Country Dancers. In such situations, to try dictating at all is going
to get SCD a bad name, as we'll appear as killjoys and more interested in
technique than in enjoying ourselves.

However, I recognise that ceilidhs are something which possibly don't happen (at
least to the same extent with the same participation by the general public) as
much elsewhere than in Scotland, and so other people will be coming from a
diffferent viewpoint.

Ian

Ian.Brockbank@edo.mts.dec.com
Edinburgh

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