strathspey Archive: RSCDS dances

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RSCDS dances

Message 43831 · Andrew Buxton · 25 Jan 2006 17:53:42 · Top

I wonder why this is, that the early books especially have so many dances that are so awful to dance. Is it because traditional dances were forced into the (R)SCDS mould whether they fitted or not? Or have tastes changed since they were devised/collected? Is there really any point in spending a lot of time on them in day schools?

Andrew Buxton
Brighton, UK

Ian Brockbank wrote:
There are lots of good dances out there, and being published by the RSCDS
doesn't make it automatically well known (how many people know Euan's Jig
from Book 28, for example) or even good (think of all those dances you only
ever do at day schools, and when you've finished think "I see why no-one
ever dances that").



-----
Andrew Buxton
Lewes, East Sussex, UK

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RSCDS dances

Message 43833 · Mike Mudrey · 25 Jan 2006 18:09:40 · Top

At 1/25/2006 10:53 AM, you wrote:
>I wonder why this is, that the early books especially have so many
>dances that are so awful to dance.
>Lewes, East Sussex, UK

I couple of examples would help the discussion.

mike

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RSCDS dances

Message 43834 · Lee Fuell · 25 Jan 2006 18:37:08 · Top

One explanation I have heard is that in the 18th century, quick-time dances were danced in all pas de basque (both setting and travelling). In Ohio, we recently danced Kenmure's On and Awa', which has hands across half way in four bars (we normally do this in two bars, as in De'il Amang the Tailors and Duke of Atholl's Reel). When we danced it in skip change of step the modern way, it was difficult to phrase and "mincey." Afterwards, as an experiment, we danced the figure in travelling pas de basque and it phrased perfectly.

Lee
Arlington, VA, USA

-----Original Message-----
>From: Andrew Buxton <cash_railway@yahoo.co.uk>
>Sent: Jan 25, 2006 11:53 AM
>To: strathspey@strathspey.org
>Subject: RSCDS dances
>
>I wonder why this is, that the early books especially have so many dances that are so awful to dance. Is it because traditional dances were forced into the (R)SCDS mould whether they fitted or not? Or have tastes changed since they were devised/collected? Is there really any point in spending a lot of time on them in day schools?
>
> Andrew Buxton
> Brighton, UK
>
> Ian Brockbank wrote:
> There are lots of good dances out there, and being published by the RSCDS
>doesn't make it automatically well known (how many people know Euan's Jig
>from Book 28, for example) or even good (think of all those dances you only
>ever do at day schools, and when you've finished think "I see why no-one
>ever dances that").
>
>
>
>
>
>
>-----
>Andrew Buxton
>Lewes, East Sussex, UK
>
>---------------------------------
>Yahoo! Messenger NEW - crystal clear PC to PC calling worldwide with voicemail
>_______________________________________________
>http://strathspey.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/strathspey

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RSCDS dances

Message 43852 · Andrew Buxton · 26 Jan 2006 11:18:54 · Top

Sorry, I did not get back with the examples. The discussion has raised some perceptive contributions by the great and good of the list.

I was not so much equating "easy dances" with "boring dances" as thinking of the awkward movements in some of the early books which seem to me like mistakes by the deviser or collector. These are the things that day-school teachers seem to delight in, but I wonder if there's much point in spending a lot of time on them when the dance is never likely to come up again.

I couldn't find many good examples on demand - they are soon forgotten. But I was thinking of things like the two half-circles in Green Grow the Rashes and a dance with a pousette started at right-angles to normal, whose name I've forgotten. Yes, there are also the boring dances. I count Birks of Abergeldie (Book 9) as one of those - pointless shifting up and down for FORTY-EIGHT BARS! Off She Goes (Book 8) might be OK in a long set, giving you an opportunity to set to each member of the opposite sex, but it could get a bit boring in a four-couple set.

I'm sure any dance I mention will have its defenders!

Andrew Buxton


"M.G. Mudrey, Jr." <mgmudrey@mhtc.net> wrote:
At 1/25/2006 10:53 AM, you wrote:
>I wonder why this is, that the early books especially have so many
>dances that are so awful to dance.
>Lewes, East Sussex, UK

I couple of examples would help the discussion.

mike

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-----
Andrew Buxton
Lewes, East Sussex, UK

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RSCDS dances

Message 43835 · Bryan McAlister · 25 Jan 2006 18:52:42 · Top

Simple - In her book Scottish Fiddlers and their music Mary Anne
Alburger refers to the Agnes Hume MS of 1704 which contains a dance to
the Tune John Anderson my jo the instructions include the following...

" The tune to be played over through once over every time so the first
couple has time to take their drinks..."

Either the RSCDS research missed that one or they decided to omit it.
It seems quite important to me.

In message <20060125165342.76368.qmail@web25906.mail.ukl.yahoo.com>,
Andrew Buxton <cash_railway@yahoo.co.uk> writes
>I wonder why this is, that the early books especially have so many
>dances that are so awful to dance. Is it because traditional dances
>were forced into the (R)SCDS mould whether they fitted or not? Or have
>tastes changed since they were devised/collected? Is there really any
>point in spending a lot of time on them in day schools?
>
> Andrew Buxton
> Brighton, UK
>
> Ian Brockbank wrote:
> There are lots of good dances out there, and being published by the RSCDS
>doesn't make it automatically well known (how many people know Euan's Jig
>from Book 28, for example) or even good (think of all those dances you only
>ever do at day schools, and when you've finished think "I see why no-one
>ever dances that").
>
>
>
>
>
>
>-----
>Andrew Buxton
>Lewes, East Sussex, UK
>
>---------------------------------
>Yahoo! Messenger NEW - crystal clear PC to PC calling worldwide with
>voicemail
>_______________________________________________
>http://strathspey.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/strathspey

--
Bryan McAlister
_______________________________________________
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RSCDS dances

Message 43837 · Patricia Ruggiero · 25 Jan 2006 19:42:47 · Top

Andrew clarified with:
> " The tune to be played over through once over every time so
> the first
> couple has time to take their drinks..."
>
> Either the RSCDS research missed that one or they decided to omit it.
> It seems quite important to me.

I'm convinced!

Pat

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RSCDS dances

Message 43836 · Patricia Ruggiero · 25 Jan 2006 18:52:36 · Top

Andrew wrote:

> I wonder why this is, that the early books especially have so
> many dances that are so awful to dance. Is it because
> traditional dances were forced into the (R)SCDS mould whether
> they fitted or not? Or have tastes changed since they were
> devised/collected?

By "awful" do you mean boring? Or hard to dance?

If the former, I'd say tastes have changed. Old dance manuals and old dance
programs from the 1800s are startling for the sameness of the dances. Right
now I'm looking at "An Album for Mrs Stewart" and on a page in the second
half of the book (why aren't the pages numbered, I wonder?) there's a copy
of a page of dances, most 24 bars, many where the second and third figures
are down the middle and up, poussette.

Someone once loaned me a book of traditional American contradances from the
1930s. I can't remember how many dances it contained, probably no more than
20. Didn't matter, though; they were almost identical. Anyone who could do
one of them could do all of them.

Pat

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RSCDS dances

Message 43839 · Richard Goss · 25 Jan 2006 22:39:30 · Top

"I wonder why ... the early books especially have so many dances that are so awful to dance."

Matter of opinion. Mine is that all of the books have dances that are awful to dance, and others that are a lot of fun.

"Is it because traditional dances were forced into the (R)SCDS mould whether they fitted or not?"

No, because there was no RSCDS mould when the Society started, what you are calling a mould evolved over time in several phases.
1. it was the opinion of the founders that country dancing in Scotland was becomming debased and corrupted, so there was a need to return to what they thought country dancing was in Scotland in some mythical "golden age". Once the Society decided on the "golden age style", all of its dances were altered to fit that style [pousette], no matter if they were the currently "debased" dances, roughly books 1-5, or "dead" dances taken from notes for which there was no living memory [allemande].
2. second phase was when the old dance notes had figures for which there was no known form at the time. In this case, the RSCDS figures were simply made up [double triangles, mirror reels of three].
3. third phase was when the sources of those figures in 2 became known, the post 2 dances were choreographed to match current knowledge.
4. fourth phase, the current one, is when new dances were composed in which new figures were invented [tournee, knot, rondell, targe, etc.].

"Or have tastes changed since they were devised/collected?"
Yes, not only have tastes changed, but also the context has changed. In the preRSCDS time, country dancing, both in England and Scotland, was a social activity of the people. Since the founding of the EFDSS and RSCDS, they have become a social activity of the EFDSS or RSCDS people, independent of the people of these two nations. When a dance is removed from its original context and propagated by people who are not cognizant of that context, its evolution is much less conservative, because, like a drug, it takes a stronger dose to create the original effect. Which is why, country dancing is losing popularity among the peoples of its respective nations.

As a parallel example, I live in a community where there are only three dances, and infinate variations. While the term "folkloric" and "tradició" are used, they do not have the same sanctity that they do in the U.K. Dances are free, and held when ever one or musicians want to play for free, or the local authority hires a band. Dances typically last two hours, during which time, those on the "floor" are never more than equal to those watching. While the structure, does not come from any society, handbook, or hierarchy of teachers, there is a structure that is passively enforced because it is a combination of living trdition and the attitude of "that" (whatever "that" is) is the way "we" do it. If you don´t like the way one set dances or find it too difficult, simply opt out and join another set. Also there is no required sense of place (no top, bottom, man´s side, woman´s side), or hierarchy based on age or ability (no beginners, intermediates, or advanced).

So, where RSCDS types, delight in newer and more complicated dances, this does not mean that the same instinct does not exist here. The difference is social outside the actual dance itself. A young person who is a good dancer, will experiment with more complicated variations of steps and figures. If he steps outside the unwritten rules, he is ignored. On the other hand if what he does fits, others will emulate him and the style evolves. For example, 5 villages away (Porreres to Muro) is a very good dance band of mainly young people 16 to 35 (is no teaching certificate, class, or branch structure - so identification is either with one´s own village, or one´s favorite band). Between the teen to 20´s age group, including the boy or girl friends or husbands or wives of these musicians, a rather active group of dancers has arisen. So when their local band is hired for dances elsewhere, these groupies, tend to come also. At the other location, the younger dancers gravitate to sets where
the better of these dancers are found. As a result, personal style of these dancers is picked up in other villages.

Aside: the typical dance may last about 2 hours, but there are usually two bands, one local and unpaid, the other invited and paid. Sometimes these last longer, as last Sunday when the dancing lasted from 10:00 until 17:30 and there were 5 bands alternating.

In the course of these dances, people fade in and out of the dancing, have a drink, meal, chat, or just watch. A good band (hoping to be invited back, or if local invited elsewhere), is sensitive to the wishes of the dancers, and makes up the program as they go along, to fit their sense of the mood of the attendees.

In the case of the RSCDS, I feel it is the very structure that saved and preserved the art form, that has distorted it into this demand for constantly new and more complicated figures, to the point where classes, workshops, etc. are necessary to keep the impetus moving, and at the same time removing it for the larger society, creating a society only of dance.

After an extended absence from St Andrews, after going every year for 20 years, including my university time there, I was disappointed by one change that points this up. In my first summer school, can remember no one, including teacher candidates, dancing in the afternoon, there were no "practice" dances, and very few people spent much time preping for the evening´s dances. On my last visit, two summers ago, the afternoons were filled with "opportunities" to practice for the evening´s dances. Many people from outside the area, saw little or nothing of St Andrews or the area around it. Most spent their free time in hall, when I took a former student, her son, and a friend, to a pub after the hall dance, to listen to "traditional" Scottish music, the poor son, only one in a kilt, was the only kilt on the street that night.

Pardon to those who have heard these things from me before, but I till enjoy those really simple early book dances, because I can dance them on autopilot and focus on the social interaction without having to worry if I or the rest of the set will get the dance right.

"Is there really any point in spending a lot of time on them in day schools?"

Yes.


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RSCDS dances

Message 43844 · Anselm Lingnau · 26 Jan 2006 00:56:42 · Top

Richard Goss wrote, eruditely and extensively as usual:

> In the case of the RSCDS, I feel it is the very structure that saved and
> preserved the art form, that has distorted it into this demand for
> constantly new and more complicated figures, to the point where classes,
> workshops, etc. are necessary to keep the impetus moving, and at the same
> time removing it for the larger society, creating a society only of dance.

I think you may be confusing the order of things a bit here. By the time the
RSCDS got around to imposing their way of doing things on country dancing,
and definitely by the time all the new-fangled complicated stuff was
invented, society at large had already voted, er, with their feet. One may
think what one will of the (R)SCDS's efforts in re-inventing SCD to their
tastes, but it is probably safe to say that without them, country dancing
would have all but disappeared in the wake of the other dance forms current
from that time to now, or would at least have been relegated to a much
smaller in-crowd than it is now.

During the last hundred years or so, SCD has made the transition from a
pastime for a large part of the rural society in a remote part of a smallish
island country to something that is enjoyed by certain circles pretty much
all over the world. We don't find as many people doing traditional Japanese
dance in London as we find country dancers in Tokyo, and that must surely
count for something. One casualty on the way from the »large fraction of the
rural people« to »small fraction of an international audience« was the utter
simplicity of many dances that has been hinted at earlier on -- it turns out
that the new style of SCD appeals to many people who, but for the
intellectual stimulus of tricky movements, would probably be doing something
else entirely because, not being of Scots heritage to begin with, they have
no special reason to do Scottish dancing if it is not in some way challenging
to them.

> Pardon to those who have heard these things from me before, but I till
> enjoy those really simple early book dances, because I can dance them on
> autopilot and focus on the social interaction without having to worry if I
> or the rest of the set will get the dance right.

There is a lot to be said for the really simple early book dances. There are
also many really simple recent dances which are good fun to do. But there is
also a place for intricate stuff that provides a different kind of
satisfaction, at least for some of us.

I keep coming back to Hugh Foss's distinction of »hymns« and »madrigals«. The
ceilidh scene, for example, is big on »hymns« -- dances that are easy to pick
up for everyone but which, speaking for myself here, tend to bore me stiff
after a very short while. In my view it is essential that the SCD repertoire
also contains »madrigals« -- challenging dances that you do not for the
simple fun of dancing in a big crowd of nice people, but for the intellectual
pleasure of doing something tricky in a circle of friends, and doing it well.
For me, one day it may be the one and another day, the other.

And here's where the classes and workshops come in. Everybody can mumble along
during a hymn and nobody will take offense (we hope). But to do madrigals
right and thus to avail oneself of the special kind of fun they provide
requires a bit of effort. In the class that I teach there are some people who
over the years have proved utterly immune to any kind of SCD technique but
who are serenely happy to »mumble along« in most of the dances that we do.
Who am I to tell them they're doing something wrong, when they seem to be
enjoying themselves? On the other hand, it's great if people actively want to
improve and I try to encourage that.

> "Is there really any point in spending a lot of time on them in day
> schools?"
>
> Yes.

To a certain extent. I think the old dances deserve to be danced (and I make a
point in my class to include them in my teaching) but I don't think as a
teacher I would like to spend two hours at a workshop getting The Nut »just
right«.

Anselm
--
Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... anselm@strathspey.org
Books don't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long
run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure
weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. -- A. Whitney Griswold
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RSCDS dances

Message 43846 · Rebecca Sager · 26 Jan 2006 02:03:37 · Top

Sometimes, one posting to this list just makes all the difference to the way I feel about it. What a joy this was to read! Anselm - is English really not your first language? I loved the analogy of the hymns and the madrigals. Thank you so much for everything you do for our "small fraction of the international audience".

Becky

Becky Sager
Marietta GA USA

-- Anselm Lingnau <anselm@strathspey.org> wrote:
Richard Goss wrote, eruditely and extensively as usual:

> In the case of the RSCDS, I feel it is the very structure that saved and
> preserved the art form, that has distorted it into this demand for
> constantly new and more complicated figures, to the point where classes,
> workshops, etc. are necessary to keep the impetus moving, and at the same
> time removing it for the larger society, creating a society only of dance.

I think you may be confusing the order of things a bit here. By the time the
RSCDS got around to imposing their way of doing things on country dancing,
and definitely by the time all the new-fangled complicated stuff was
invented, society at large had already voted, er, with their feet. One may
think what one will of the (R)SCDS's efforts in re-inventing SCD to their
tastes, but it is probably safe to say that without them, country dancing
would have all but disappeared in the wake of the other dance forms current
from that time to now, or would at least have been relegated to a much
smaller in-crowd than it is now.

During the last hundred years or so, SCD has made the transition from a
pastime for a large part of the rural society in a remote part of a smallish
island country to something that is enjoyed by certain circles pretty much
all over the world. We don't find as many people doing traditional Japanese
dance in London as we find country dancers in Tokyo, and that must surely
count for something. One casualty on the way from the »large fraction of the
rural people« to »small fraction of an international audience« was the utter
simplicity of many dances that has been hinted at earlier on -- it turns out
that the new style of SCD appeals to many people who, but for the
intellectual stimulus of tricky movements, would probably be doing something
else entirely because, not being of Scots heritage to begin with, they have
no special reason to do Scottish dancing if it is not in some way challenging
to them.

> Pardon to those who have heard these things from me before, but I till
> enjoy those really simple early book dances, because I can dance them on
> autopilot and focus on the social interaction without having to worry if I
> or the rest of the set will get the dance right.

There is a lot to be said for the really simple early book dances. There are
also many really simple recent dances which are good fun to do. But there is
also a place for intricate stuff that provides a different kind of
satisfaction, at least for some of us.

I keep coming back to Hugh Foss's distinction of »hymns« and »madrigals«. The
ceilidh scene, for example, is big on »hymns« -- dances that are easy to pick
up for everyone but which, speaking for myself here, tend to bore me stiff
after a very short while. In my view it is essential that the SCD repertoire
also contains »madrigals« -- challenging dances that you do not for the
simple fun of dancing in a big crowd of nice people, but for the intellectual
pleasure of doing something tricky in a circle of friends, and doing it well.
For me, one day it may be the one and another day, the other.

And here's where the classes and workshops come in. Everybody can mumble along
during a hymn and nobody will take offense (we hope). But to do madrigals
right and thus to avail oneself of the special kind of fun they provide
requires a bit of effort. In the class that I teach there are some people who
over the years have proved utterly immune to any kind of SCD technique but
who are serenely happy to »mumble along« in most of the dances that we do.
Who am I to tell them they're doing something wrong, when they seem to be
enjoying themselves? On the other hand, it's great if people actively want to
improve and I try to encourage that.

> "Is there really any point in spending a lot of time on them in day
> schools?"
>
> Yes.

To a certain extent. I think the old dances deserve to be danced (and I make a
point in my class to include them in my teaching) but I don't think as a
teacher I would like to spend two hours at a workshop getting The Nut »just
right«.

Anselm
--
Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... anselm@strathspey.org
Books don't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long
run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure
weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. -- A. Whitney Griswold
_______________________________________________
http://strathspey.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/strathspey
_______________________________________________
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RSCDS dances

Message 43847 · Volleyballjerry · 26 Jan 2006 03:57:10 · Top

I found these few paragraphs of Anselm's (repeated below) so central to what
the best of SCD has become nowadays and why I (as well as so many others whom
I know) am so involved with it that I ultimately found myself reading them for
the third time!

Robb Quint
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

In a message dated 01/25/2006 3:58:24 PM Pacific Standard Time,
anselm@strathspey.org writes:

> I think you may be confusing the order of things a bit here. By the time
> the
> RSCDS got around to imposing their way of doing things on country dancing,
> and definitely by the time all the new-fangled complicated stuff was
> invented, society at large had already voted, er, with their feet. One may
> think what one will of the (R)SCDS's efforts in re-inventing SCD to their
> tastes, but it is probably safe to say that without them, country dancing
> would have all but disappeared in the wake of the other dance forms current
> from that time to now, or would at least have been relegated to a much
> smaller in-crowd than it is now.
>
> During the last hundred years or so, SCD has made the transition from a
> pastime for a large part of the rural society in a remote part of a smallish
>
> island country to something that is enjoyed by certain circles pretty much
> all over the world. We don't find as many people doing traditional Japanese
> dance in London as we find country dancers in Tokyo, and that must surely
> count for something. One casualty on the way from the »large fraction of the
>
> rural people« to »small fraction of an international audience« was the utter
>
> simplicity of many dances that has been hinted at earlier on -- it turns out
>
> that the new style of SCD appeals to many people who, but for the
> intellectual stimulus of tricky movements, would probably be doing something
>
> else entirely because, not being of Scots heritage to begin with, they have
> no special reason to do Scottish dancing if it is not in some way
> challenging
> to them.
>
> There is a lot to be said for the really simple early book dances. There are
>
> also many really simple recent dances which are good fun to do. But there is
>
> also a place for intricate stuff that provides a different kind of
> satisfaction, at least for some of us.
>
> I keep coming back to Hugh Foss's distinction of »hymns« and »madrigals«.
> The
> ceilidh scene, for example, is big on »hymns« -- dances that are easy to
> pick
> up for everyone but which, speaking for myself here, tend to bore me stiff
> after a very short while. In my view it is essential that the SCD repertoire
>
> also contains »madrigals« -- challenging dances that you do not for the
> simple fun of dancing in a big crowd of nice people, but for the
> intellectual
> pleasure of doing something tricky in a circle of friends, and doing it
> well.
> For me, one day it may be the one and another day, the other.
>
> And here's where the classes and workshops come in. Everybody can mumble
> along
> during a hymn and nobody will take offense (we hope). But to do madrigals
> right and thus to avail oneself of the special kind of fun they provide
> requires a bit of effort. In the class that I teach there are some people
> who
> over the years have proved utterly immune to any kind of SCD technique but
> who are serenely happy to »mumble along« in most of the dances that we do.
> Who am I to tell them they're doing something wrong, when they seem to be
> enjoying themselves? On the other hand, it's great if people actively want
> to
> improve and I try to encourage that.
>
> I think the old dances deserve to be danced (and I make a
> point in my class to include them in my teaching) but I don't think as a
> teacher I would like to spend two hours at a workshop getting The Nut »just
> right«.
>
> Anselm
>
_______________________________________________
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RSCDS dances

Message 43848 · Volleyballjerry · 26 Jan 2006 04:01:23 · Top

My goodness! Having just read Becky's message (below), it makes mine just
sent in seem like a "copy-cat" of hers. But truly I had not yet read Becky's
about Anselm's when I wrote my own!

Robb

In a message dated 01/25/2006 5:06:05 PM Pacific Standard Time,
bsager3@juno.com writes:

> Subj: Re: RSCDS dances
> Date: 01/25/2006 5:06:05 PM Pacific Standard Time
> From: bsager3@juno.com
> Reply-to: strathspey@strathspey.org
> To: strathspey@strathspey.org
> Sent from the Internet
>
>
>
> Sometimes, one posting to this list just makes all the difference to the way
> I feel about it. What a joy this was to read! Anselm - is English really
> not your first language? I loved the analogy of the hymns and the madrigals.
> Thank you so much for everything you do for our "small fraction of the
> international audience".
>
> Becky
>
> Becky Sager
> Marietta GA USA
>
> -- Anselm Lingnau <anselm@strathspey.org> wrote:
> Richard Goss wrote, eruditely and extensively as usual:
>
> > In the case of the RSCDS, I feel it is the very structure that saved and
> >preserved the art form, that has distorted it into this demand for
> >constantly new and more complicated figures, to the point where classes,
> >workshops, etc. are necessary to keep the impetus moving, and at the same
> >time removing it for the larger society, creating a society only of dance.
>
> I think you may be confusing the order of things a bit here. By the time the
>
> RSCDS got around to imposing their way of doing things on country dancing,
> and definitely by the time all the new-fangled complicated stuff was
> invented, society at large had already voted, er, with their feet. One may
> think what one will of the (R)SCDS's efforts in re-inventing SCD to their
> tastes, but it is probably safe to say that without them, country dancing
> would have all but disappeared in the wake of the other dance forms current
> from that time to now, or would at least have been relegated to a much
> smaller in-crowd than it is now.
>
> During the last hundred years or so, SCD has made the transition from a
> pastime for a large part of the rural society in a remote part of a smallish
>
> island country to something that is enjoyed by certain circles pretty much
> all over the world. We don't find as many people doing traditional Japanese
> dance in London as we find country dancers in Tokyo, and that must surely
> count for something. One casualty on the way from the »large fraction of the
>
> rural people« to »small fraction of an international audience« was the utter
>
> simplicity of many dances that has been hinted at earlier on -- it turns out
>
> that the new style of SCD appeals to many people who, but for the
> intellectual stimulus of tricky movements, would probably be doing something
>
> else entirely because, not being of Scots heritage to begin with, they have
> no special reason to do Scottish dancing if it is not in some way
> challenging
> to them.
>
> > Pardon to those who have heard these things from me before, but I till
> >enjoy those really simple early book dances, because I can dance them on
> >autopilot and focus on the social interaction without having to worry if I
> >or the rest of the set will get the dance right.
>
> There is a lot to be said for the really simple early book dances. There are
>
> also many really simple recent dances which are good fun to do. But there is
>
> also a place for intricate stuff that provides a different kind of
> satisfaction, at least for some of us.
>
> I keep coming back to Hugh Foss's distinction of »hymns« and »madrigals«.
> The
> ceilidh scene, for example, is big on »hymns« -- dances that are easy to
> pick
> up for everyone but which, speaking for myself here, tend to bore me stiff
> after a very short while. In my view it is essential that the SCD repertoire
>
> also contains »madrigals« -- challenging dances that you do not for the
> simple fun of dancing in a big crowd of nice people, but for the
> intellectual
> pleasure of doing something tricky in a circle of friends, and doing it
> well.
> For me, one day it may be the one and another day, the other.
>
> And here's where the classes and workshops come in. Everybody can mumble
> along
> during a hymn and nobody will take offense (we hope). But to do madrigals
> right and thus to avail oneself of the special kind of fun they provide
> requires a bit of effort. In the class that I teach there are some people
> who
> over the years have proved utterly immune to any kind of SCD technique but
> who are serenely happy to »mumble along« in most of the dances that we do.
> Who am I to tell them they're doing something wrong, when they seem to be
> enjoying themselves? On the other hand, it's great if people actively want
> to
> improve and I try to encourage that.
>
> > "Is there really any point in spending a lot of time on them in day
> >schools?"
> >
> > Yes.
>
> To a certain extent. I think the old dances deserve to be danced (and I make
> a
> point in my class to include them in my teaching) but I don't think as a
> teacher I would like to spend two hours at a workshop getting The Nut »just
> right«.
>
> Anselm
> --
> Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany .....................
> anselm@strathspey.org
> Books don't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the
> long
> run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only
> sure
> weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. -- A. Whitney Griswold
> _______________________________________________
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Message 43849 · Richard Goss · 26 Jan 2006 07:24:37 · Top

"probably safe to say that without them, country dancing would have all but disappeared"

The key here is the "all but" which is my point in that it has not disappeared among the people, but has been replaced by something called SCD, which never existed before, and this form has created another "people", ourselves, who practice it.

"During the last hundred years or so, SCD has made the transition from a pastime for a large part of the rural society in a remote part of a
smallish island country"
Pure RSCDS myth as there was no such thing as SCD before the Society and it took the Society a few years to invent the term as evidenced by the fact that the early documentation says "country dancing, as danced in Scotland". If one checks the early books, the "as danced in Scotland" is pretty much the same as "country dancing as danced in England". Prior to the RSCDS, there was no border between the two. At the time of Miss M´s Beltain Society´s famous introductory performance in Glasgow (ref. McFadyen´s "house history"), one will notice that all the dances in that demo were already published and danced by the EFDSS, and probably learned by Miss M when she was in college at Bedford, where the EFDSS dances were a part of the curriculum.

"something that is enjoyed by certain circles pretty much all over the world."
No question about this, but has nothing to do with the topic.

"We don't find as many people doing traditional Japanese dance in London"
Which is part of my point, RSCDS dances are not traditional in the same sense that Japanese is. Japanese dance goes back hundreds, if not thousands of years. RSCDS dancing is not a century old and does not qualify as traditional in the common sense of the word, any more than the tango or the fox trot.

"new style of SCD appeals to many people who, but for the
intellectual stimulus of tricky movements, would probably be doing
something else entirely because, not being of Scots heritage to begin with, they have no special reason to do Scottish dancing if it is not in some way challenging to them."
Again my point put in a different way, RSCDS dances are a phenomena created in the last century in Scotland, and by their creation and interpretation by the Society, have become separated from its people in general.

[Hugh Foss] hymns and madrigals.
My point again, the people sing hymns, but it takes a choir to sing a madrigal, people do not have to practice to be able to enjoy hymns, but choirs need to go to school to sing madrigals. While people sing hymns, they listen to madrigals. In Scotland, more Scots watch RSCDS dances than dance them.

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Message 43850 · Anselm Lingnau · 26 Jan 2006 09:52:09 · Top

Richard Goss wrote:

> The key here is the "all but" which is my point in that it has not
> disappeared among the people, but has been replaced by something called
> SCD, which never existed before, and this form has created another
> "people", ourselves, who practice it.

Yes, but then again country dancing did not *start* with the Scottish people
to begin with. It was *brought* to Scotland from elsewhere by a tiny fraction
of the populace, the well-to-do town citizenry, and fanned out from there. To
refer to the Scots as »its people« is making the same mistake that you are
deploring here, only the other way round. If we look back in a couple of
centuries we will likely consider the time during the 19th and early 20th
century, when country dancing was only still popular in Scotland, nothing
more than a brief intermission in history.

This may come as a blow to some, but country dancing did not need Scotland to
get off the ground originally and in effect, if everyone in Scotland decided
tomorrow that they wanted nothing more to do with it, then it would probably
continue nevertheless, quite in the way it does now. As far as dancing itself
is concerned, the fact that the RSCDS is mostly governed by Scots (or UK
residents, anyway) is no more than a hold-over from the way the Society got
started and/or a consequence of certain physical facts (like it is
inconvenient to attend regular management board meetings held in Edinburgh if
one lives in Australia). It has no longer a real bearing on the style of
dancing, or of dances that are invented and published and music that is
composed and recorded. For better or for worse, SCD has taken on a life of
its own, with the Scottish input playing an important but by no means
essential role in the grand scheme of things. We are, in effect, back in the
early 18th century as far as the popularity of (S)CD is concerned, with
dancing being done in many places but in Scotland only by a certain »elite«
-- back then it was the rich who could afford to go to genteel places like
Bath, now it's those folks that bother with RSCDS-style SCD at all, but in
both cases it is a small minority compared to the Scottish people at large.

Again, we have the RSCDS to thank to keep country dancing (their style) going
and to tide it over the bleak years of much of the 20th century. Who cares if
country dancing is not still done the way it was, by the people that were, in
1700, 1800, 1900, as long as SCD is something *we* can enjoy *now*? Dinosaurs
must have been fascinating animals but like the dances of the 18th century,
in the style of the 18th century, they are gone for good, having (according
to current paleontological thinking) mutated into a no less fascinating type
of animal called birds. In the same way the old dances have mutated into
something else entirely that Jane Austen would probably find hard to
recognize but which has a very definite right to exist. Think of it as
evolution in action.

Anselm
--
Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... anselm@strathspey.org
Bicycles are also made up of many hard and sharp components which, in
collision, can do grave damage to people and the paint finish on automobiles.
Bicycles are dangerous things.
-- P. J. O'Rourke, *A Cool and Logical Analysis of the Bicycle Menace*
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Message 43856 · Jill Herendeen · 26 Jan 2006 16:48:27 · Top

Oh, I don't quite agree with the magridal analogy. One only needs one
person per part, IF the people in question are 1) good at sight-reading
music and 2) good enough at carrying a part all by themselves. My
experience, alas, has been that such people are hard to find, and that even
finding people who can carry a part in a round all by themselves is
difficult. Hymns CAN be performed the same way, but even if one found
oneself in church with only 3 other people who all happened to sing
different parts, I doubt they would have the same expectation of having to
"perform;" and thus hymn-singing might have less anxiety attached to it for
a lot of people. About part-singing in general. I don't think it's because
this level of musical ability is intrinsically difficult, but it IS
difficult if not done at all regularly, and people don't generally do it
regularly because their skills and/or ambitions have been diverted toward
interacting with TVs, computers, VCRs, etc., which I believe is also the
reason people might be put off by any particular form of dancing,
particularly if it wasn't featured in the latest wildly popular film.
Similarly, that people manage to be very busy without learning dancing is
not the fault of dancing. I think there's just a lot more "entertainment"
around than there was in 1800. (Maybe someone needs to come up with a
wildly popular film about SCD.)--Jill Herendeen, Lyons, NY
----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Goss" <goss9@sbcglobal.net>
To: "SCD news and discussion" <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 1:24 AM
Subject: Re: RSCDS dances

> "probably safe to say that without them, country dancing would have all
> but disappeared"
>
> The key here is the "all but" which is my point in that it has not
> disappeared among the people, but has been replaced by something called
> SCD, which never existed before, and this form has created another
> "people", ourselves, who practice it.
>
> "During the last hundred years or so, SCD has made the transition from a
> pastime for a large part of the rural society in a remote part of a
> smallish island country"
> Pure RSCDS myth as there was no such thing as SCD before the Society and
> it took the Society a few years to invent the term as evidenced by the
> fact that the early documentation says "country dancing, as danced in
> Scotland". If one checks the early books, the "as danced in Scotland" is
> pretty much the same as "country dancing as danced in England". Prior to
> the RSCDS, there was no border between the two. At the time of Miss M´s
> Beltain Society´s famous introductory performance in Glasgow (ref.
> McFadyen´s "house history"), one will notice that all the dances in that
> demo were already published and danced by the EFDSS, and probably learned
> by Miss M when she was in college at Bedford, where the EFDSS dances were
> a part of the curriculum.
>
> "something that is enjoyed by certain circles pretty much all over the
> world."
> No question about this, but has nothing to do with the topic.
>
> "We don't find as many people doing traditional Japanese dance in London"
> Which is part of my point, RSCDS dances are not traditional in the same
> sense that Japanese is. Japanese dance goes back hundreds, if not
> thousands of years. RSCDS dancing is not a century old and does not
> qualify as traditional in the common sense of the word, any more than the
> tango or the fox trot.
>
> "new style of SCD appeals to many people who, but for the
> intellectual stimulus of tricky movements, would probably be doing
> something else entirely because, not being of Scots heritage to begin
> with, they have no special reason to do Scottish dancing if it is not in
> some way challenging to them."
> Again my point put in a different way, RSCDS dances are a phenomena
> created in the last century in Scotland, and by their creation and
> interpretation by the Society, have become separated from its people in
> general.
>
> [Hugh Foss] hymns and madrigals.
> My point again, the people sing hymns, but it takes a choir to sing a
> madrigal, people do not have to practice to be able to enjoy hymns, but
> choirs need to go to school to sing madrigals. While people sing hymns,
> they listen to madrigals. In Scotland, more Scots watch RSCDS dances than
> dance them.
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> http://strathspey.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/strathspey

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Message 43857 · Alexandre Rafalovitch · 26 Jan 2006 17:40:31 · Top

On 1/26/06, Jill Herendeen <jherendeen@onemain.com> wrote:
> I think there's just a lot more "entertainment"
> around than there was in 1800. (Maybe someone needs to come up with a
> wildly popular film about SCD.)--Jill Herendeen, Lyons, NY

Or a computer game (e.g. Pirates! as described at
http://www.worthplaying.com/article.php?sid=22278&mode=thread&order=0)
:-)

Regards,
Alex.
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Message 43863 · Richard Goss · 27 Jan 2006 07:53:24 · Top

>>I think there's just a lot more "entertainment" around than there was in 1800<<

I would say that this depends on one´s defination of "entertainment", the nature of which has shifted. Commercial entertainment to be passively watched has certainly increased, at the expense of people entertaining themselves by being involved. More people watch dancing, watch sports, listen to music, proportional to those who participate.

Take the music scene in Los Angeles, when I was a kid, all the studios and radio stations had full time live orchestras, now, if you look for specific instruments at concerts, you will often see the same people recycled from orchestra to orchestra. Churches have taped organ music.

Related to the RSCDS, while the overall number of classes has increased, the class sizes have gone down in proportion to the local population, and Society membership in proportion to dancers has also gone down.
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Message 43896 · Jill Herendeen · 28 Jan 2006 04:34:13 · Top

Exactly. --Jill H.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Goss" <goss9@sbcglobal.net>
To: "SCD news and discussion" <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 1:53 AM
Subject: Re: RSCDS dances

> >>I think there's just a lot more "entertainment" around than there was in
> >>1800<<
>
> I would say that this depends on one´s defination of "entertainment", the
> nature of which has shifted. Commercial entertainment to be passively
> watched has certainly increased, at the expense of people entertaining
> themselves by being involved. More people watch dancing, watch sports,
> listen to music, proportional to those who participate.
>
> Take the music scene in Los Angeles, when I was a kid, all the studios
> and radio stations had full time live orchestras, now, if you look for
> specific instruments at concerts, you will often see the same people
> recycled from orchestra to orchestra. Churches have taped organ music.
>
> Related to the RSCDS, while the overall number of classes has increased,
> the class sizes have gone down in proportion to the local population, and
> Society membership in proportion to dancers has also gone down.
> _______________________________________________
> http://strathspey.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/strathspey

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Message 43920 · Ron Mackey · 29 Jan 2006 01:51:17 · Top

I want to organize a group of Scottish Dancers to
> treat it more like Ballet. That is, to train a group of Scottish
> dancers very well and go on tour, demonstrating "really good" Scottish
> Dancing to be passively watched as you describe above. So far I am unable
> to get any support for that around here.
>
>
> James Leonard Rooke

Here we go again! Just where is 'here' James?

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Message 43924 · James Leonard Rooke · 29 Jan 2006 04:02:08 · Top

At 12:51 AM 1/29/2006 +0000, you wrote:
> I want to organize a group of Scottish Dancers to
> > treat it more like Ballet. That is, to train a group of Scottish
> > dancers very well and go on tour, demonstrating "really good" Scottish
> > Dancing to be passively watched as you describe above. So far I am unable
> > to get any support for that around here.
> >
> > James Leonard Rooke
> Here we go again! Just where is 'here' James?

Here is the Johnson City area of No. East Tennessee U.S.A.
Sorry about that. I will try to remember to give exact location on future
postings.
>_

James Leonard Rooke
http://users.chartertn.net/jleonard
Jim

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Message 43908 · James Leonard Rooke · 28 Jan 2006 16:35:09 · Top

At 10:34 PM 1/27/2006 -0500, you wrote:
>Exactly. --Jill H.
>----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard Goss" <goss9@sbcglobal.net>
>To: "SCD news and discussion" <strathspey@strathspey.org>
>Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 1:53 AM
>Subject: Re: RSCDS dances
>
>> >>I think there's just a lot more "entertainment" around than there was
>> in >>1800<<
>>
>> I would say that this depends on one´s defination of "entertainment",
>> the nature of which has shifted. Commercial entertainment to be
>> passively watched has certainly increased, at the expense of people
>> entertaining themselves by being involved. More people watch dancing,
>> watch sports, listen to music, proportional to those who participate.

I have the "dream" but probably not the resources to get it done. Instead
of the public Scottish dances being held around here where visitors and
newcomers who have never done Scottish dance of any kind being called to
come up and participate, I want to organize a group of Scottish Dancers to
treat it more like Ballet. That is, to train a group of Scottish
dancers very well and go on tour, demonstrating "really good" Scottish
Dancing to be passively watched as you describe above. So far I am unable
to get any support for that around here.

James Leonard Rooke
http://users.chartertn.net/jleonard
Jim

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Message 43862 · Anselm Lingnau · 27 Jan 2006 01:20:53 · Top

Richard Goss wrote:

>   My point again, the people sing hymns, but it takes a choir to sing a
> madrigal, people do not have to practice to be able to enjoy hymns, but
> choirs need to go to school to sing madrigals. While people sing hymns,
> they listen to madrigals. In Scotland, more Scots watch RSCDS dances than
> dance them.

I think I have to clarify something about the hymn/madrigal analogy, which
incidentally comes from a delightful booklet called »Roll Back the Carpet«
that collects some of Hugh Foss's articles on the theory of SCD.

In former times (before the advent of record players or TV), a madrigal was
not something you went to a concert to listen to, but something for when you
had friends over for the evening and the dessert plates had been cleared
away. The company would get out ye olde sheete musicke and have at it. Now
sight-reading four-part harmony is not everybody's cup of tea today, but the
point is that this type of entertainment is really a very informal thing. In
his article, Foss makes this point to encourage us to »roll back the carpet«
and dance outside the more formal environments of classes and official
functions, to try new ideas and to experiment. This ties in very well with
the notion that SCD is something that you *do* rather than something that you
watch other people doing, just like a madrigal is meant for people to sing
for their own enjoyment rather than that of others.

Much of the best dancing I've had in my life has taken place after hours at
workshops, in a spirit of »What shall we try next?«. I just wish my living
room was big enough (and tidy enough) to allow more of this.

Anselm
--
Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... anselm@strathspey.org
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. -- John Lennon
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Message 43864 · ninian-uk · 27 Jan 2006 09:45:18 · Top

"Foss makes this point to encourage us to »roll back the carpet«
and dance outside the more formal environments of classes and official
functions"

Well, this was certainly my first experience of SCD. A friend had some SCD
friends round for dinner and invited me to come along. After dinner we just
danced in the sitting room. Now look where a little innocent fun has got
me.... dancing 4 times this week!

David
Berkeley, Gloucestershire UK

----- Original Message -----
From: "Anselm Lingnau" <anselm@strathspey.org>
To: "SCD news and discussion" <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 12:20 AM
Subject: Re: RSCDS dances

Richard Goss wrote:

> My point again, the people sing hymns, but it takes a choir to sing a
> madrigal, people do not have to practice to be able to enjoy hymns, but
> choirs need to go to school to sing madrigals. While people sing hymns,
> they listen to madrigals. In Scotland, more Scots watch RSCDS dances than
> dance them.

I think I have to clarify something about the hymn/madrigal analogy, which
incidentally comes from a delightful booklet called »Roll Back the Carpet«
that collects some of Hugh Foss's articles on the theory of SCD.

In former times (before the advent of record players or TV), a madrigal was
not something you went to a concert to listen to, but something for when you
had friends over for the evening and the dessert plates had been cleared
away. The company would get out ye olde sheete musicke and have at it. Now
sight-reading four-part harmony is not everybody's cup of tea today, but the
point is that this type of entertainment is really a very informal thing. In
his article, Foss makes this point to encourage us to »roll back the carpet«
and dance outside the more formal environments of classes and official
functions, to try new ideas and to experiment. This ties in very well with
the notion that SCD is something that you *do* rather than something that
you
watch other people doing, just like a madrigal is meant for people to sing
for their own enjoyment rather than that of others.

Much of the best dancing I've had in my life has taken place after hours at
workshops, in a spirit of »What shall we try next?«. I just wish my living
room was big enough (and tidy enough) to allow more of this.

Anselm
--
Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany .....................
anselm@strathspey.org
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. -- John
Lennon
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Message 43842 · Ron Mackey · 26 Jan 2006 00:00:18 · Top

> "Is there really any point in spending a lot of time on them in day
> schools?" Yes.

One of the things that got to me when attending Day
Schools was the still extant idea that it is wrong to teach more than one
dance an hour to a class. The result was that we took most of that
time doing step practise and working on the 'Technique Required' to do
something like Rory O'More. The next hour was very similar probably
repeating the 20 minutes or more of step practise and again the
'Technique Required' to do another essentially simple dance.
Of course the 'one dance an hour' rule still exists in many
places even when the dance is very straightforward. I can remember a
lady teacher from 'Scotland!!' spending nearly 40 minutes hammering
at a class of cretificated teachers and very advanced/dem standard
dancers. The subject? Rights and lefts!! Because it was the 'difficult'
bit in the dance she was teaching!
Please do NOT spend a LOT of TIME on the simple dances.
Discuss them, use them as illustrations of the past but do not make
them sound like the 'important' part of SCD. They are the roots of our
favourite pastime and should be savoured on occasion but there have
been many flowers from them that are worth much greater appreciation
by the dancers of today.

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Message 43843 · simon scott · 26 Jan 2006 00:29:32 · Top

> They are the roots of our favourite pastime and should be savoured on
occasion
> but there have been many flowers from them that are worth much greater
appreciation
> by the dancers of today.

I agree with Ron. There are some fantastic dances from old times and
early books that are still great dances to dance.

Perhaps, however, the cleverness of devisers, such as John Drewry and
the like, has given us material that has such flow and grace, and, such
fun, that it causes some earlier material to seen lacking in these
qualities. No fault of the dance or its deviser, or even the RSCDS for
collecting them.

Simon
Vancouver

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Message 43851 · Ian Brockbank · 26 Jan 2006 11:02:45 · Top

Hi Andrew,

> I wonder why this is, that the early books especially have so
> many dances that are so awful to dance. Is it because
> traditional dances were forced into the (R)SCDS mould whether
> they fitted or not? Or have tastes changed since they were
> devised/collected? Is there really any point in spending a
> lot of time on them in day schools?
>
> Andrew Buxton
> Brighton, UK
>
> Ian Brockbank wrote:
> There are lots of good dances out there, and being
> published by the RSCDS
> doesn't make it automatically well known (how many people
> know Euan's Jig
> from Book 28, for example) or even good (think of all those
> dances you only
> ever do at day schools, and when you've finished think "I see
> why no-one
> ever dances that").

It's nothing to do with whether it's an early or late dance. Most books
have a few dances which catch on and others which were danced that year and
then allowed to fade into obscurity. The ratio of winners to losers varies,
and there are some books which shine (31, 33, 35 and 36 seem to appear a lot
on programs) and others which I very rarely see (e.g. books in the late
20s), but I don't think it's to do with the age.

Cheers,

Ian Brockbank
Edinburgh, Scotland
ian@scottishdance.net
http://www.scottishdance.net/

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