strathspey Archive: Putting together a dance program

Previous thread: Looking for musicians in Lyon (France)
Next thread: Vermont Harvest Social

Putting together a dance program

Message 2735 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 15 Oct 1995 21:38:58 · Top

I'm not going totalk about the jig-strathspey-reel pattern, RSCDS vs.
non-RSCDS dances,first or last dances, working with a band, major vs.
minor keys, or which dances don't belong on social programs.

I am going to discuss an aspect that I think of as the energy (joy) of the
overall program.

Many years ago in my effort to pour a little culture into my overly
technical mind, I read E. M. Forster's "Aspects of the Novel." "Oh," I
said to myself, "That's how I should design a dance program."

How can I describe the energy of the overall program? Perhaps by
describing some ways that I have visualizeded programs. Like a roller
coaster -- start high, coast for a while, and end with a bang. Like
erosion -- I start out with a high, but the forces at work in the evening
gradually pull against me til I sit out a dance and don't get up to dance
again. Like a marathon -- never mind the course; only the finish line
matters. Like a mosaic -- maybe I'm viewing too closely; maybe if I
stand back farther it will all come together. Like the novice course
at the Mad River (downhill) ski area -- after an easy, leisurely run
through nice scenery, it ends in a cliff. Or like a symphony -- yes, a
fixed pattern; yes, repeated rhythms; and yes, a glorious almost
inevitable build to a climax. And after it's over, it goes on singing in
my head.

happy dancing,

Priscilla Burrage (
Vermont USA (

Putting together a dance program

Message 2742 · Sandra Rosenau · 16 Oct 1995 19:42:07 · Top

Another 25 cents on programs. I devised one recently and had many
compliments over it. These are the principles I used for decision

1) Something for everyone: new dancers, energetic dancers, smart
experienced dancers, I'm-lost-again dancers, infirm dancers
2) Variety as discussed recently: variety in tempo, figures, types of
music, and set form (2-cpl, 3-cpl, 4-cpl, square, round the room, couple)
3) Something old, something new (familiarity of the group with the dance)
4) "Balance" - how does each dance relate to its immediate neighbors
on the program?
5) Start each section with warmup dance (something like Knit the
Pocky), build to a crescendo (more difficult and exciting), then ease off
with something familiar and simple to get everyone back on the floor
before taking the intermission (Flowers of Edinburgh).
6) Mostly RSCDS but not emphatically so; about 70-80%.

Sandra Rosenau, Dayton, Ohio, USA

Previous thread: Looking for musicians in Lyon (France)
Next thread: Vermont Harvest Social
A Django site.