strathspey Archive: Walking with turnout - historical perspectives

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Walking with turnout - historical perspectives

Message 2675 · Norah Link · 12 Oct 1995 15:15:37 · Top

Marjorie McLaughlin writes:
>Is all this the result of 20th century SCD being developed in the Physical
>Education program at Jordanhill College rather than in the ballroom?

What a good question! I've been wondering recently how the old travelling
dancing masters coped with this issue of turnout, not to mention some of the
other problems we've talked about in the "Social Dancing and Injuries" thread.
Did they assume that the long walk home would stretch out tired muscles?
Presumably, since turnout was introduced and apparently considered important in
the French court (if I've followed our historical perspectives thread
correctly!), dancers were expected to use turnout. But were the dancing masters
as fussy about it with the "common folk" who might not have the time to really
work on it? And if they were, what did they do to teach people?

I don't expect anyone really knows the answers to these questions, but if anyone
wants to hypothesize...

Norah Link
Montreal, Canada

Walking with turnout - historical perspectives

Message 2676 · king maghi · 12 Oct 1995 15:56:56 · Top

There's a book by, I think, George Emerson, about scottish dancing and its
history, which reproduces soem old paintings of people dancing, mostly, if I
remmeber rightly from the 1800's. It's quite noticeable that they are turned
out. There's one or two which involve dancing masters or professionals, but
others are just ordinary people at weddings and the like.

I've got the book at home: I'll try to remember to check bibliographic details
and post them.

maghi

Maghi King | Internet: king@divsun.unige.ch
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Walking with turnout - historical perspectives

Message 2679 · Norah Link · 12 Oct 1995 17:59:14 · Top

>reproduces soem old paintings of people dancing, mostly, if I remmeber rightly
>from the 1800's. It's quite noticeable that they are turned out.

There's a fairly well-known painting of people dancing on the cover of Flett &
Flett, and if I remember correctly they are turned out in that as well. What I'm
not sure, however, is how well the paintings reflect how "country folk" danced
and how much they reflect the image of with court mannerisms, such as gorgeous
turnout, added on. Of course, I'm not trying to rule out that they did dance
with turnout - I'm just curious as to how people have been taught to dance with
turnout over the years, especially if dancing is not their profession. I'm also
wondering how much of the problem we face now is people starting to dance later
in life than they used to (turning out comes a lot more naturally when we're
younger).

Any takers?

Norah Link
Montreal, Canada

Walking with turnout - historical perspectives

Message 2688 · Joe Shelby · 12 Oct 1995 22:18:25 · Top

> There's a book by, I think, George Emerson, about scottish dancing and its
> history, which reproduces soem old paintings of people dancing, mostly, if I
> remmeber rightly from the 1800's. It's quite noticeable that they are turned
> out. There's one or two which involve dancing masters or professionals, but
> others are just ordinary people at weddings and the like.
>
> I've got the book at home: I'll try to remember to check bibliographic details
> and post them.

Emerson's books are in the Bibliography at the strathspey archive site:
--
Emmerson, George S. Rantin' Pipe & Tremblin' String: A History of Scottish
Dance Music. London, Ontario: J.M. Dent, 1971.

Emmerson, George S. Scotland Through Her Country Dances. 2nd ed. London,
Ontario: Galt House, 1981.

Emmerson, George S. The Scottish Country Dance (A History). London, Ontario:
Galt House, 1992.

Emmerson, George S. A Social History of Scottish Dance: Ane Celestial
Recreatioun. Montreal, Quebec, and London, Ontario: McGill-Queen's Univ.
Press, 1972.
--

the last one is the one i believe maghi's referring to. i read through that
one at George Mason University's library monday night; found it quite
fascinating...

joe
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Walking with turnout - historical perspectives

Message 2694 · ReelLass · 13 Oct 1995 05:49:02 · Top

Norah Links:
<<
Presumably, since turnout was introduced and apparently considered important
in the French court (if I've followed our historical perspectives thread
correctly!), dancers were expected to use turnout. But were the dancing
masters as fussy about it with the "common folk" who might not have the time
to really work on it? And if they were, what did they do to teach people?
I don't expect anyone really knows the answers to these questions, but if
anyone
<<... wants to chime in:

_Traditional Dancing in Scotland_ by J.P. Flett & T.M. Flett (pub. Routledge
& Kegan Paul, 1964 - paperback edition in 1985). This book is a study of
pre-RSCDS Scottish country dancing practices. I have not even finished the
first chapter (I bought it in early September :-} = sheepish grin ). Despite
my laggardliness, it's a pretty readable book. This passage is interesting:

"... As one old man put it, 'ye had to be verra mannerly when lifting your
pairtner, no' likes as if ye were drawing a hog oot o' a ditch' (82). And as
another told us, 'after the dance you had to take your partner back to her
seat, no' throw her away like a hot potato' (64).
In spite of such strictness, these old dancing-teachers do not seem to
have put great emphasis on technique. They regarded it as more important to
learn the figures of the dances, and, whilst they taught steps, they were not
greatly worried if their pupils did not attain great precision or polish.
For instance, one of our informants who attended a good many of Mr Buck's
classes told us that 'Mr Buck wasna' fussy as long as you were there to take
y our place' (16). Again, Mr Blackley of Lanark taught the travelling step
for Country Dances as simply 'hop, step, close behind, and step'; he did not
specify the exact position in which the one foot closed behind the other 'and
was quite pleased if you got it behind, without worrying exactly where it
was'(8). The same was true of James Muir of Motherwell. When we asked his
son, Mr. Jack Muir, about this, Mr Muir pointed out that in the old days
there was no need to be very precise, for there were no medal tests or
competitions in ballroom dancing. Indeed, when one remembers that these
teachers frequently had classes of a hundred or more pupils, and that they
had at their disposal only a dozen or so evenings in which to teach a fair
selection of Reels, Country Dances, Square Dances, and Circle Dances (and
often step-dances as well), one could not have expected them to attempt to
aim at a high standard of individual performance in the steps."

Terry Barron
San Jose, CA

Walking with turnout - historical perspectives

Message 2701 · Susan Worland · 13 Oct 1995 16:06:24 · Top

I don't expect anyone really knows the answers to these questions, but if anyone
>wants to hypothesize...
>
>Norah Link
>Montreal, Canada
>

A hypothesis related to an earlier thread -- I've heard, don't remember
where I heard, so I don't know how much credibility to give the source, that
Highland dancing *may* have evolved from Spanish dancing, after the defeat
of the Armada. Be that as it may, I once had a dream that I was watching
Robert McOwen do the Spanish dance Jota. It was a very pleasant dream!!!
>
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