strathspey Archive: Dashing White Sergeant

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Dashing White Sergeant

Message 35435 · Alan Paterson · 5 Jun 2003 10:30:15 · Top

In the correspondence over the past few days on "Ceilidh vs. SCD)" it was
pointed out that there are SCD dancers (let me use that expression to
describe those who - kind of - follow the RSCDS way) who express a dislike
of the dance Dashing White Sergeant.

It was implied that such people are to be described using a rude word.
"Workers" I seem to remember.

Well, this started me thinking and I have concluded that I myself don't
particularly like the DWS. Reasons:

- The interaction betweeen the 2 groups of 3 is minimal. Basically one
dances the same figures with the same people six times through.

- It's exhausting (writing as someone usually to be found in the centre
position)

- It is a flawed dance! (I mean, LEFT-shoulder entry to the reels. Lord
above!)

So I would maintain that it is quite acceptable not to want to do this
dance.

However, if the REASON for rejecting it is, as Bryan implies, "It is a
ceilidh dance", then perhaps there may be a little justification for the
term of derision expressed.

Coming at this dance from another angle, I have often seen people being
brought up to do this who have no SCD experience. Perhaps they did it at
school, or perhaps they just get a quick description and off it goes.

Almost invariably, these people will take the second eight-bar phrase and
throw it out the window (Set-and-turn-both hands, stuff that!) and they
will more often than not do a right-hand turn followed by a left-hand turn.
This has the result that a RIGHT-shoulder entry to the reel becomes more
natural - thus removing the structural flaw mentioned earlier.

I have never seen it done, but I can well imagine that the ceilidh dancers
would do this as well. This is therefore a case where they have IMPROVED an
RSCDS dance. IMNSHO.

Bravo.

Alan

P.S. At our dance a few weeks back, I did mention in the briefing that it
is perfectly OK to dance it the way I described above. No-one actually did
though. Some habits die hard.

Dashing White Sergeant

Message 35436 · Helen P. · 5 Jun 2003 10:42:32 · Top

From: "Alan Paterson" <alan.paterson@paranor.ch>
Sent: Thursday, June 05, 2003 4:30 AM

> Well, this started me thinking and I have concluded that I myself don't
> particularly like the Dashing White Sergeant.

It's an uncomfortable dance, and dancing in the center position (with extra
twirls) helps one to avoid dying from boredom.

-- Helen (MD USA)

Dashing White Sergeant

Message 35441 · Ian Brockbank · 5 Jun 2003 16:12:45 · Top

Hi Helen, Alan,

Another variant which can add a bit of interest after doing it for the
xxxxxth
time is to dance it as a 4 instead of a 3. As well as the fun of the
expressions in the lines which meet us, there's the option of changing
ends, changing men or women in the middle, and the reel of four is more
nippit than the reel of three.

It's interesting that this should come up not long after a letter of
mine was published in the Edinburgh Branch newsletter on the subject of
the similarities and differences.

It was in response to an article following a comment from Dave Francis
that "ceilidh is where the dance forms [i.e. SCD, reeling, old time,
quadrilles] meet".

The difference between the dance styles is one of approach rather than
repertoire. With a good caller and a good crowd, pretty much anything
goes at a ceilidh. It's informal - you do what the caller decides on
the spur of the moment*. On the other hand, the available repertoire is
often limited by the ability of the crowd, and the well-known repertoire
is limited to maybe a dozen dances (with a good crowd).

SCD on the other hand is more formalised - the programme is published in
advance, the dancers are expected to go to (or have gone to) a
reasonable number of lessons and have a grasp of the basic building
blocks. This allows more flexibility in repertoire and devising, giving
Alan typist's cramp entering 11000 dances. (However the building blocks
assume reel/jig/strathspey and set dances.) There is also a level of
skill which can be continually worked on. This is what keeps my
interest and keeps it fresh.

I enjoy an occasional ceilidh (and endure others when our group is hired
to help a conference-full of reluctant unfit visitors "enjoy" themselves
when they would rather prop up the bar...), but it's SCD that I attend
regularly. On the other hand, ceilidh dancing is great if you've got
people who aren't familiar with the dance form. At our wedding we
compromised with a ceilidh on the Saturday night for the wedding guests,
and an SCD dance on Sunday. (This also allowed us to invite people we
couldn't justify inviting to the whole event.)

Cheers,

Ian

*A perfect example of this is in the ceilidh dance "The Virginia Reel".
If you're going to call this, always make sure you and the band agree on
the number of bars. I've seen half a dozen different variants, with 32
bars, 40 bars, 48 bars and 64 bars...

Ian Brockbank
Applications Software Engineer
e: ian.brockbank@wolfsonmicro.com
t: +44 131 272 7076
f: +44 131 272 7001

-----Original Message-----
From: Helen P. [mailto:leap@mindspring.com]
Sent: 05 June 2003 09:37
To: strathspey@strathspey.org
Subject: Re: Dashing White Sergeant

From: "Alan Paterson" <alan.paterson@paranor.ch>
Sent: Thursday, June 05, 2003 4:30 AM

> Well, this started me thinking and I have concluded that I myself
don't
> particularly like the Dashing White Sergeant.

It's an uncomfortable dance, and dancing in the center position (with
extra
twirls) helps one to avoid dying from boredom.

-- Helen (MD USA)

Dashing White Sergeant

Message 36477 · Richard Goss · 6 Sep 2003 21:22:25 · Top

June 5 [Alan]

Actually, I find most "celeidh" type dances tiring for the reasons you mention.

However, DWS has a slightly different history which may explain some of the fatigue and also the other problems you mention.

Originally it was of the longways class known as "Swedish Progression", namely threesomes facing. In its original form it was in a longways of threesomes with those with having men in the center facing down the room, and those with women facing up. As a result, at the first rep, there were only six people dancing, those facing in the middle. After each rep a new threesome was added after the pass through until the actives reached the end of the room at which time they had a chance to rest for 32 bars as we do now in standard longways sets.

As the architecture changed from long narrow halls to wider ones many of these older longways forms became round the room in form: Ecossais [longways inproper] became Sicilian or Circassian (a generic form not a specific dance) Circles [qv Waltz Country Dance/Dutch Foursome], and "Union Dances" started as 4x4 longways and ended up round the room [pv La Tempete].

While the composer of the music, Bishop, had definite Edinburgh connections, he is really more a British than a Scottish composer, and our version of this dance of facing 3-somes, set to his music, is as commonly known in England as it is in Scotland.

Here we come to the problem of attempting to standardize a folk process. Left alone, "bad" choreography results in one of two phenomena, the dance either gets dumped [think of all the dead modern dances since book 19], or the choreography evolves into one more logical. Here, the flaw is based on the fact that the Society used an inductive approach. "In the Beginning was the Word ..." and everything that did not fit the word was ignored. The Society (see comments on Robertson´s Rant) had the idea that "set and turn" in fast time was a two handed operation, and following the "deasul rule" that turn must go clockwise. No problem with bars 9-12, but when repeated with 13-16 the turn caused the following reel to go in the wrong direction leaving the man facing backwards for the advance and retire. In the English version, where the modern Scottish rule held no sway, one sets and turns right hand right and the repeats by turning left hand left and producing the proper reel.

An unmentioned flaw is the problem as to who goes under the arch. In the original form of a longways, couples moving down go down and those moving up form arches, as is our convention in longways dances. The problem comes when one is moving round the room. The English convention, to me, is much more logical, since the tradition is that the right hand has priority over the left, the center person maintains the right hand and drops the left so that the left hand person, no matter how facing passes under the arch.

June 5 [Alan]

Yes, there is an RSCDS rule, which is just my point in the above and my comments on Robertson´s Rant. If we got rid of the absolute rule about one hand or two, there would be no reason for the rule. In other words if set and turn corners involved one hand the natural flow would be to turn the second by the left. Except of course when the left hand would produce the "wrong" reel as in actives on the opposite side of the dance having to cross back home at the end of the reel - which still could be done, but this would upset a lot of other rules/conventions.


June 5 [[Ian]

Sorry to be a "been there, done that" but such a dance already exists under another name. This phenomena falls under the heading of "logic of structure" in that if a pattern exists already (3x3 preceded 4x4) once the new pattern was created, logical thinking would adapt the old pattern to the new. This is what happened to the older ecossaise as mentioned above (2x2) when one takes a longways set and makes it into a square, one really has two intersecting minor 2x2 sets. So if one looks at the RSCDS dance, Circassian Circle, by intersecting the minor sets, doubling the music and alternate the 8 bars between the two sets, one gets the first "figure" found in many quadrilles.*

----------

*Anticipating comments regarding lancers, I hasten to add that lancers are a subset of quadrills based primarily on the selection of tunes (military, specific to cavalry, unless you are dancing the "Hussars").

R Goss

Dashing White Sergeant

Message 36478 · Chris1Ronald · 6 Sep 2003 22:52:57 · Top

In a message dated 9/6/03 3:23:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
goss9@sbcglobal.net writes:
> Ecossais [longways inproper] became Sicilian or Circassian (a generic form
> not a specific dance) Circles [qv Waltz Country Dance/Dutch Foursome]

Thank you for another illuminating message, Richard. Something that I've
wondered about for a long time is this: what is the difference (if any) between a
sicilian and a circassian circle?

And a related question: if I remember rightly, the English dance that goes
by the name Circassian Circle has all dancers in one big circle facing in,
partner by their side. Whereas the SCD version has the dancers arranged in the
formation you described (in pairs facing each other.) Does this mean that there
could be two types of circassian (and sicilian) circles?

Chris, New York

Dashing White Sergeant

Message 36481 · Richard Goss · 6 Sep 2003 23:49:05 · Top

My reading suggests that they are two names for the same thing in England. As far as I can tell, I have seen my references in Scotland do not use the term Sicilian Circle. As the facing in as opposed to 2s vis a vis, this may well be a later form as evolved.

R Goss

Dashing White Sergeant

Message 36484 · Adam Hughes · 8 Sep 2003 10:36:25 · Top

Chris1Ronald@aol.com wrote:
> Thank you for another illuminating message, Richard. Something that I've
> wondered about for a long time is this: what is the difference (if any) between a
> sicilian and a circassian circle?

I've never heard anyone on a dance floor say "line up in a circassian
circle". I've often heard them say "couple facing couple around the
room", and in England say "make a sicilian circle". I've heard people
say "come onto the dance floor in Circassian circle formation". Which
is identical. But the word "formation" for me is crucial - there isn't
a dance called the Sicilian Circle. Maybe "a Circassian Circle" is in
the language as a set formation somewhere I don't dance (like America) -
but I've been really looking for it in Scotland and England, and I've
not witnessed it yet.

> And a related question: if I remember rightly, the English dance that goes
> by the name Circassian Circle has all dancers in one big circle facing in,
> partner by their side. Whereas the SCD version has the dancers arranged in the
> formation you described (in pairs facing each other.) Does this mean that there
> could be two types of circassian (and sicilian) circles?

I learned the answer to this over the summer, by buying and reading a
book...

There is a set of dances in the EFDSS Community Dance Manual Book 1
called "the Circassian and the Big Circle" - collected in Northumberland
by Maud Karpeles.

The music was a jig follwed by a reel - on the jig they danced the
Sicilian circle verson a la RSCDS, and when the music changed to a reel
they danced the "Big Circle" which is the dance often now called the
Circassian circle.

As Richard mentioned in one of his earlier emails - given a flawed (or
at least too clever by half) choreography, the easier dance and the more
distinctive name stuck...

Adam,
Cambridge, UK.

Dashing White Sergeant

Message 36486 · Richard Goss · 8 Sep 2003 11:18:03 · Top

"I've never heard anyone on a dance floor say "line up in a circassian
circle".

I was speaking from a historical, not modern EFDSS/RSCDS context. Circassian Circles at one time were the same as Sicilian Circles. The confusion comes in that the RSCDS took a living dance and tune, Circassian Circle, which has become what we now have. There are many circassian circles found in historical texts. The one I prefer has a better choreographic flow and that fits the music goes like this ....

Music: AABB

A1: rights and lefts

A2: ladies chain

B1: set twice

B2: pousette

In RSCDS terms the A´s are skip change of step and the B´s are pdb. The transitions are smoother in that the handing and chaining flow from the rights and lefts (chaine anglaise/chain of 4) into the ladies chain. Since the end of the ladies chain easily flows into the two handed hold for the set twice, the same hands and step are used for the pousette (never mind the change of feet for our pousette as this is an RSCDS choreographic aberration).


Dashing White Sergeant

Message 36489 · Bryan McAlister · 8 Sep 2003 15:00:49 · Top

In article <a3.486d8fc7.2c8ba321@aol.com>, Chris1Ronald@aol.com writes
>In a message dated 9/6/03 3:23:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
>goss9@sbcglobal.net writes:
>> Ecossais [longways inproper] became Sicilian or Circassian (a generic form
>> not a specific dance) Circles [qv Waltz Country Dance/Dutch Foursome]
>
>Thank you for another illuminating message, Richard. Something that I've
>wondered about for a long time is this: what is the difference (if any)
>between a
>sicilian and a circassian circle?
>
>And a related question: if I remember rightly, the English dance that goes
>by the name Circassian Circle has all dancers in one big circle facing in,
>partner by their side. Whereas the SCD version has the dancers
>arranged in the
>formation you described (in pairs facing each other.) Does this mean
>that there
>could be two types of circassian (and sicilian) circles?
>
>Chris, New York
My understanding was, though I'm not sure how authoritative my source
is, that there were more than two versions but only the two referred to
remain. While I remember learning the two couple version in school, I
dont ever recall doing it. The big circle version I am so fed up
calling at Ceilidhs that I tend no to do the Lucky 7 , Sheena's
Saunter, or Roundabout Hullichan or various others.
Incidentally one way to improve the dance greatly at Ceilidhs is do the
first movement as "Join hands in circle, advance 1 2 3 and STAMP"
rather than "1 2 3 4" or "1 2 3 and close": its amazing how it enlivens
the whole dance
--
Bryan McAlister B Arch RIBA ARIAS
Web page www.bryanmac.demon.co.uk
Email bryan@bryanmac.demon.co.uk
Mobile: 07732 600160 Fax: 0870 052 7625

Dashing White Sergeant

Message 35446 · Martin.Sheffield · 5 Jun 2003 18:26:52 · Top

Alan wrote:
>... these people ... in the second eight-bar phrase ... they
>will do a right-hand turn followed by a left-hand turn.
>This has the result that a RIGHT-shoulder entry to the reel ...

and everyone will finish up in the right direction for the advance & retire.

I quite agree, it's a more satisfactory variant than the one printed on bk 1.
And I agree, it's repetitive, tiring, etc.
But ... it has one of the best tunes I know!

Since living in Grenoble, I have had lots of mails and phone calls from
people (French arriving back here, or Scottish arriving for a stay) asking
where they can find the wonderful atmosphere of Scottish dancing in France.
Invariably, it turns out they have been ceilidh dancing in Scotland, not
SCDing.

Martin

Dashing White Sergeant

Message 35448 · seonaid.gent · 5 Jun 2003 18:56:47 · Top

>I enjoy an occasional ceilidh (and endure others when our group is hired
>to help a conference-full of reluctant unfit visitors "enjoy" themselves
>when they would rather prop up the bar...), but it's SCD that I attend
>regularly.

Do you do Canadian Barn Dance or Military Two Step at these ceilidhs?!!! ;o). Sorry Ian, I couldn't resist.

Seonaid

--------------------
talk21 your FREE portable and private address on the net at http://www.talk21.com

Dashing White Sergeant

Message 35451 · Jock McVlug · 6 Jun 2003 00:44:41 · Top

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alan Paterson" <alan.paterson@paranor.ch>
To: "Strathspey" <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Sent: Thursday, June 05, 2003 1:30 AM
Subject: Dashing White Sergeant

> In the correspondence over the past few days on "Ceilidh vs. SCD)" it was
> pointed out that there are SCD dancers (let me use that expression to
> describe those who - kind of - follow the RSCDS way) who express a dislike
> of the dance Dashing White Sergeant.
>
> It was implied that such people are to be described using a rude word.
> "Workers" I seem to remember.
>
> Well, this started me thinking and I have concluded that I myself don't
> particularly like the DWS. Reasons:
>
> - The interaction betweeen the 2 groups of 3 is minimal. Basically one
> dances the same figures with the same people six times through.
That would seem appropiate to me as the name of the Dance seems to indicate,
the interaction should be between the Dashing White Segeant and his 2
partners!

> - It's exhausting (writing as someone usually to be found in the centre
> position)
>
> - It is a flawed dance! (I mean, LEFT-shoulder entry to the reels. Lord
> above!)
Right or wrong, isn't there an RSCDS rule that has Left-shoulder reels
after 'set and turn corners?

> So I would maintain that it is quite acceptable not to want to do this
> dance.
>
> However, if the REASON for rejecting it is, as Bryan implies, "It is a
> ceilidh dance", then perhaps there may be a little justification for the
> term of derision expressed.
>
> Coming at this dance from another angle, I have often seen people being
> brought up to do this who have no SCD experience. Perhaps they did it at
> school, or perhaps they just get a quick description and off it goes.
>
> Almost invariably, these people will take the second eight-bar phrase and
> throw it out the window (Set-and-turn-both hands, stuff that!) and they
> will more often than not do a right-hand turn followed by a left-hand
turn.
> This has the result that a RIGHT-shoulder entry to the reel becomes more
> natural - thus removing the structural flaw mentioned earlier.
>
> I have never seen it done, but I can well imagine that the ceilidh dancers
> would do this as well. This is therefore a case where they have IMPROVED
an
> RSCDS dance. IMNSHO.
>
> Bravo.
>
> Alan
>
> P.S. At our dance a few weeks back, I did mention in the briefing that it
> is perfectly OK to dance it the way I described above. No-one actually did
> though. Some habits die hard.

Foss OBE

Message 36474 · Richard Goss · 6 Sep 2003 20:08:04 · Top

Did maths, spent WWII code breaking [q.v. Enigma]

R Goss


Foss OBE

Message 36479 · hways · 6 Sep 2003 23:18:22 · Top

Actually he was a major code breaker long before the war started, from
sometime in the 20's. Following the work on Enigma, he led the team at
Bletchley breaking Japanese codes, and was a great help to the U. S. Navy
code breakers during a visit to the U S later in the war. If he did not get
the OBE he certainly should have.

Harry

From: "Harriet Goss" <goss9@sbcglobal.net>
To: <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Sent: Saturday, September 06, 2003 2:08 PM
Subject: Foss OBE

> Did maths, spent WWII code breaking [q.v. Enigma]
>
> R Goss
>
>
>

Foss OBE

Message 36480 · Richard Goss · 6 Sep 2003 23:44:32 · Top

Having been a friend of his, I know he had a knighthood, but I am not sure what the proper letters were. He always seemed a bit embarrassed by the whole thing.

R Goss

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