strathspey Archive: two hand turns

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two hand turns

Message 456 · Peter Hastings · 31 Oct 1994 14:53:57 · Top

Anonymous - 28 Oct 94
You would be very welcome at the Edinburgh (Scotland) Branch of the RSCDS
where (alone of Branches ?) skip change is taught as the correct step for
two hand turns in jig or reel time. Does anyone out there know the
background to this ?
cheers
Peter

two hand turns

Message 458 · Helmut Biesenbach · 31 Oct 1994 15:15:08 · Top

Date: Mon, 31 Oct 1994 12:52:42 +0000 (GMT)
From: Peter Hastings <P.Hastings@roe.ac.uk>
Subject: re: two hand turns

Anonymous - 28 Oct 94
You would be very welcome at the Edinburgh (Scotland) Branch of the RSCDS
where (alone of Branches ?) skip change is taught as the correct step for
two hand turns in jig or reel time. Does anyone out there know the
background to this ?
cheers
Peter

Ask anyone about relations between Edinburgh and Glasgow and
Scottish Dancers about the relation between Miss Allie Anderson and
Miss Jean C. Milligan.
A story I was told concerned the Allemande:
Hands up on the beginning of bar 1 or at the end of bar of the
previous phrase. I have forgotten which branch preferred which version
(in those cases when the dance description was not explicit).
Edinburg and Glasgow always tried to be different and Summer School
used to be governed by the actual majority.
helmut

two hand turns

Message 463 · James Cameron Orr Jim · 31 Oct 1994 17:04:39 · Top

From: Peter Hastings <P.Hastings@roe.ac.uk>
Subject: re: two hand turns

>Anonymous - 28 Oct 94
>You would be very welcome at the Edinburgh (Scotland) Branch of the RSCDS
>where (alone of Branches ?) skip change is taught as the correct step for
>two hand turns in jig or reel time. Does anyone out there know the
>background to this ?
>cheers
>Peter

I'd be sorry to see the Duke of Perth so modified.

Jim Orr
Memorial University of Newfoundland



two hand turns

Message 464 · Anonymous · 31 Oct 1994 17:25:11 · Top

On Mon, 31 Oct 1994 12:52:42 +0000 (GMT) Peter Hastings said:
>You would be very welcome at the Edinburgh (Scotland) Branch of the RSCDS
>where (alone of Branches ?) skip change is taught as the correct step for
>two hand turns in jig or reel time. Does anyone out there know the
>background to this ?
Well, firstly, thanks for confirming that my intended message came across.
The only other person whom I have noticed commenting on my original suggestion
seemed to think I was advocating replacing Turn Both-hands (PdB)
by Turn 1-hand.
Peter H, you get the prize for understanding I meant use skip-change for TB.

As for the history of why Edinburgh differs from the RSCDS (norm) I do not
know it, but I agree it would be very interesting to throw some light on this.
After all, I am questioning an accepted standard, and before changing standards
one should find out the reasons why they were originally decided.

And to those who disagree with my opinion that skip-change is more elegant
than PdB for TB, I can only point to the elegance of TB done in strathspey
time, and assert that the elegance is still there when you do it in quick time.

Joe.

two hand turns

Message 469 · RSCDSSD · 31 Oct 1994 19:06:56 · Top

Dear Peter, Joe, et al

The Edinburgh Branch dances Set and turn corners with a two hand skip change
turn because of the teaching of Miss Allie Anderson, once a powerful
personality in that organization and still influencing their style. Stories
abound about the fireworks between Miss Anderson and Miss Jean Milligan. I
have often heard a quote attributed to Miss Anderson that her only regret in
life was not starting a SCD Society before Miss Milligan did.

Miss Anderson believed the Set and Turn Corners figure called for a two hand
skip change turn, as seen in her "Complete Guide to Scottish Country
Dancing", pages 18 & 21. This manual is available through TAC as a
Commemorative reprint 1990. In her dance "The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh"
she applies her notion most effectively. It is interesting to note the number
of differences in her interpretation of figures from those accepted by the
RSCDS,

Also note the early RSCDS books in which there is some question regarding one
or two hand turns, e.g. Book 3/6 The Fairy Dance, and Book 4/9 Highland
Laddie. There is considerable historical evidence, particularly in the 19th
century manuals of Thomas Wilson and the research of Thomas Flett, that the
set and turn corners figure was indeed danced using a skipping step. At
least one RSCDS dance (which I will rely on someone to remind me of) which
specifies a two hand skip change turn, though clearly it is noted as an
anomaly.

Whenever I encounter a figure that the majority of dancers have difficulty
executing (if at all) I must wonder whether we are in fact dancing it in the
most natural way possible. Dancing should be easy and natural movement, not
contrived athletic exercise. We may want to challenge ourselves, but not all
of us are fit, trim, youngsters. Set and turn corners, and our ubiquitous
poussette, fit this category for me. The ease and joy of an English Country
Dance poussette makes the rather demanding SCD version seem awkward. And I
have always had doubts about the suitability of two hand pas de basque turns.

It seems healthy to review dance reconstruction and historical
interpretation, even if we continue to follow current practice. Dance is an
evolving art form adapting itself to the times and desires of contemporary
dancers. If something no longer works should we not consider modifying it?
The current discussion about dancing 2 couple strathspeys in 3 couple sets
is just this sort of issue. As Duncan Keppie pointed out, the original
edition of RSCDS Book 1 states that "Usually every fourth couple begins". "A
dance should not contain too many couples, five or six couples being a good
number". The four couple set is a recent standard. I too have wearied of 2
couple strathspeys in 4 couple sets and it appears we are not violating a
sacrosanct, centuries-old, tradition if we opt to dance in 3 couple sets.

Thank you Mel for pointing out Cairn Edward's delightful 3 bar phrases. I
had wondered when someone would put that out for consideration. Figures can
cross the phrase of music almost without notice, e.g. Roy Goldring's Highland
Rambler, but generally speaking, it causes a subconscious discomfort for
those who can't, or don't know how to, count the bars of music. Something is
wrong, but they just can't figure out what. To use the idea just for the
sake of being clever or novel hardly seems worth it.

Marjorie McLaughlin

two hand turns

Message 470 · Don MacQueen · 31 Oct 1994 20:28:33 · Top

> From lists@math.uni-frankfurt.de Mon Oct 31 09:29:57 1994
> Resent-Date: Mon, 31 Oct 1994 12:09:19 -0500
> Resent-Message-Id: <9410311707.AA22763@gauss.math.uni-frankfurt.de>
> Date: Mon, 31 Oct 1994 12:09:19 -0500
> From: RSCDSSD@aol.com
> To: strathspey@math.uni-frankfurt.de
> Subject: Re: re: two hand turns
>
... omissions
>
> It seems healthy to review dance reconstruction and historical
> interpretation, even if we continue to follow current practice. Dance is an
> evolving art form adapting itself to the times and desires of contemporary
> dancers. If something no longer works should we not consider modifying it?
>
... omissions
>
> Marjorie McLaughlin
>

I appreciate Marjorie's comments, and have appreciated and enjoyed this
whole discussion. I especially agree with her first sentence above.

But...

I don't really believe that the "we" that is going to do any modifying
includes me. I value the fact that the same dances and the
same figures are more or less the same world wide (at least, everybody
always says that they are; being not widely travelled I can't speak
from experience). Any modifications such as the ones being discussed
in the last few days would be very difficult to accomplish without
destroying that larger commonality. Except in so far as the style of
dance evolves, and that evolution is recognized and accepted world wide.
(Or, unless, perhaps, if RSCDS HQ decides to make it so.)

Another aspect that troubles me a bit is that there is so much discussion
of "better" versus "worse" without a recognition of "simply different."
Dances using skip change of step for turn corner partner, corner partner
wouldn't necessarily be better or worse, but they certainly would be
different. Another example is Petronella, where the offical way to do
it is with first couple _only_ doing the petronella setting. Some people
complain that this is boring, and that second couple should join in. Well,
fine and good, but it isn't the same dance anymore. Both versions
have merit.

Much of the discussion has centered on the fact that two hand p.d.b. turns
are difficult to do well. As a matter of principle, easier isn't
automatically better, any more than turning up the sound system makes
the music better. If easier were the goal, there are all sorts of
ways we could make SCD easier. Such as, only use easy figures. And,
no matter how easy it is, there are always going to be some people who
find it difficult. So we really have a sliding scale, and the question
is, at what point does it become so difficult as to be prohibitive.
I think that 2 hand p.d.b. turns are on the near side of the sliding
scale. For those who physically aren't capable, or haven't mastered the
step yet, by all means, make allowances.

-Don

---------------------------------------------------
Donald H. MacQueen macq@llnl.gov
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two hand turns

Message 473 · David Newitt · 1 Nov 1994 03:26:56 · Top

> And to those who disagree with my opinion that skip-change is more elegant
> than PdB for TB, I can only point to the elegance of TB done in strathspey
> time, and assert that the elegance is still there when you do it in quick time.
>

I wouldn't be one to argue about elegance, it's too subjective. What I
don't want to lose is the feel of the p-de-b turn, which comes mainly
from the fact that the travel is done with a LEAP, rather than with a
step as in the strathspey and skip-change. Thus one "flies" around
one's partner - definitely one of the high points of SCD.

david

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