strathspey Archive: Extra twiddles

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Extra twiddles

Message 4394 · Alan Paterson · 10 Jul 1996 10:50:26 · Top

The recent discussion as to whether one bends the instructions slightly
in order to ease a transition from the first 32 bars into the second
has been modified slightly into the oft-discussed theme of whether or
not to any deviation from the devisor's instructions is a good or bad
thing.

Guy (Dawson) cited the Duke of Perth as an example of where local
practice is often to deviate sharply from the instructions. I have seen
this fairly often and, there being no devisor alive to contradict, who
can really say that Book 1 must be obeyed to the letter? However...

My opinion is that there are two distinct classes of "twiddles". The
first class include those which a single person (or couple) may perform
and which have no effect on other dancers. Among these are the ones
which started this discussion - extra or reduced turns in order to cast
to start. Others which come to mind include "birling", spinning round
in the centre of a reel-of-4, extra turns during set-and-turn corners,
etc. I can usually say that, if someone has more pleasure out of
performing these, then fine, OK by me.

The other class of twiddles are those which affect other dancers and
here is where I start to get angry. I find it extraordinarily selfish
when people insert things which _I_ do not expect in order that _they_
have more fun but _I_ have less.

Let me cite some recent examples. Last weekend I attended a ball
situated about 200 miles from home (that's relatively local in central
Europe). Most of the dancers attending were very young (which is a good
thing) and there was a lot of energy present. Many dances had obviously
been "rearranged" in a way which many of them were familiar with - but
us strangers weren't:

1 - At the end of Fair Donald, everyone turned twice instead of once.
Since the sets had lots of space this was an "extra" which affected
no-one else and, once I caught on, I was doing it myself (sometimes).
No problem.

2 - In John McAlpin, after having danced twice through, the first
couple then advanced, retired and cast while the next couple was
starting. Again this affects no-one directly, but it did disturb me a
little and only now, while writing this, have I realised why. Normally,
after one couple has finished their twice through, the "baton" is then
passed cleanly to the next couple and they become the centre of
attention. Well, because of this overlap, the attention remained with
the first couple and the new couple remained in "shadow" so to speak
for the first 4 bars of their time through. This is a case of purely
psychological disturbance, but I would rather do without it. This is a
similar situation to that which Andy (Patterson) mentioned of Drewry's
Peat Fire Flame.

3 - In the strathspey Banks of the Limmat we had six hands round and
back. One couple performed the change of direction in this formation by
executing a highland step (leap right with left behind then front).
Now, this is only my opinion, but I found this intensely disagreeable
because it disturbed the flow of the movement. There was an unexpected
ripple of movement around the circle which was in opposition to what
else was happening. (I hope you can all follow this). This was a
physical disturbance which, for me, detracted from the pleasure of the
dance.

Maybe I'm just getting old! (43 and 1/12th today).

Alan

Extra twiddles

Message 4429 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 20 Jul 1996 22:58:38 · Top

On Wed, 10 Jul 1996, Alan Paterson wrote:

> My opinion is that there are two distinct classes of "twiddles". The
> first class include those which a single person (or couple) may perform
> and which have no effect on other dancers. Among these are the ones
> which started this discussion - extra or reduced turns in order to cast
> to start. Others which come to mind include "birling", spinning round
> in the centre of a reel-of-4, extra turns during set-and-turn corners,
> etc. I can usually say that, if someone has more pleasure out of
> performing these, then fine, OK by me.
>
> The other class of twiddles are those which affect other dancers and
> here is where I start to get angry. I find it extraordinarily selfish
> when people insert things which _I_ do not expect in order that _they_
> have more fun but _I_ have less.

I would put the extra twiddles in the center of a reel of four in your
second category, a twiddle that affects other dancers. If these twiddles
are performed in a reel of four that I'm dancing, then I have to change
my timing of the reel to stay away from the body that is staying in one
place instead of moving to the expected position in the reel. Also, on a
social level, I feel as those "twiddlers" have just stopped dancing with
me and have turned the figure into a momentary "reel for two." If,
howver, they continue to progress through the figure and smile at me and
the fourth person as well as the other twiddler, I have no objection to
the added movement.

Perhaps these people don't realize that they can dance with all eight
people, not just their own partner. Are they the same ones who never
acknowledging the others in a reel or parallel reels? (My pet hates:
dancing reels across the dance as second or third dancer and being
ignored by the dancer supposedly dancing a mirror of my postion in the
other reel. The other is dancing six-bar reels of three with corners
and finding no one is recognizing that it is a social formation.)

Perhaps we should recognize that just as we can improve our footwork or
our execution of a formation or difficult dance, so too can we work to
improve our social understanding and appreciation of the seven other
dancers in a set by dancing with them throughout the entire dance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage (priscilla.burrage@uvm.edu)
Vermont USA (pburrage@moose.uvm.edu)

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