strathspey Archive: Mairi's Wedding

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Mairi's Wedding

Message 8323 · colin garrett · 29 Jul 1997 10:11:44 · Top

I think that it was first published by Mozart Allen in 1959 along with
Betty's Wedding, Bonnie Glenshee, Lad o' Kyle, The Road to the Isles and
the Winding Road. All devised by James Cosh - price 3/-d.

Note that the original instructions specifically said "pass left shoulders
in the centre of the reels". Most people now dance right shoulders. I
once asked James about this and he said "Do what is comfortable!"

Colin Garrett
Berkhamsted

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8327 · Irene Van Maarseveen · 29 Jul 1997 13:12:37 · Top

Colin Garrett said about Mairi's Wedding [29 July]:

> ... devised by James Cosh ...
>
> Note that the original instructions specifically said
> "pass left shoulders in the centre of the reels".
> Most people now dance right shoulders.
> I once asked James about this and he said
> "Do what is comfortable!"

<Hmmm> So maybe the Mairi's Wedding debate still lives on. Can we
take that as factual first-hand reporting?

Compare the letter published in The Reel (London Branch), as posted
to Strathspey by Ron Mackey on 17 Nov 1996.

>> Date sent: 24 Aug 96 11:50:52 EDT
>> From: The_Healys <100535.3242@CompuServe.COM>
>>
>> Ron's assertion, however, is that there is documentary proof of
>> what the deviser actually wanted as opposed to what he was
>> 'forced' to publish. Does anyone out there know which issue of
>> 'The Reel' the reply was published in or, better, can anyone post
>> the actual text. I would love to kill this once and for all
>> but suspect that, no matter what, it won't be long before it
>> returns :)
>>
>> Jim Healy
>
> Hi : )
>
> Andrew Kellett has managed to find the relevant copy of The
> Reel from the London Branch archives, I think he must have been
> going back through them one by one. This is taken from "page
> four" of Issue No 59 for the period February - March 1961. <snip>
> Plus ca change ......
>
> Quote
>
>> MAIRI'S WEDDING
>>
>> <snip>
>> ... we recommend to our readers' attention the two letters printed
>> below. The first is from the author of the dance.
>>
>> To the Editor of "The Reel"
>>
>> Dear Sir,
>>
>> There appears to be some difference of opinion concerning the
>> shoulder in "Mairi's Wedding". I can only say that there can be
>> only one shoulder and that most definitely is the LEFT in any reel
>> of four.
>>
>> I cannot agree that there is any more pleasure in passing
>> right shoulder in the centre and I have had many letters
>> supporting this view and deprecating any alteration from the
>> original intention of the dance.
>>
>> I am
>> Yours Faithfully
>> JAMES B. COSH
>> Giffnock,
>> Renfrewshire.
>
> <snip>
>
> Does that convince you Jim or would you like a copy of the copy?
> This doesn't come from anybody's Auntie but good old London Branch!
>
> Happy Dancing
> Ron Mackey :)

Jim, you were right to
>> ... suspect that, no matter what, it won't be long before it
>> returns :)

Irene van Maarseveen
Pretoria, South Africa
ivmaarse@csir.co.za

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8338 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 29 Jul 1997 22:51:18 · Top

Irene replies to a comment by Colin Garret:

>> I once asked James about this and he said
>> "Do what is comfortable!"
><Hmmm> So maybe the Mairi's Wedding debate still lives on. Can we
>take that as factual first-hand reporting?

Then Irene goes on to recall our earlier discussion of this topic including
a quote of a letter written by James B.Cosh showing his explicit preference
for the left shoulder pass as it was written.

Irene remarks further...
>Jim [Healy], you were right to
>>> ... suspect that, no matter what, it won't be long before it
>>> returns :)

First, about THE PROCESS:

I suspect a number of old-timers on the list may have thought, "Oh, here we
go again...". However, I suggest that although we do have an archive of
this list (thanks to Anselm), it is NOT reasonable to expect new
subscribers to exhastively review that archive before making contributions
to the list. I think the process that occurred in this case is very
reasonable. Now that Irene has provided the teaser for the prior
discussions, I expect that the new subscribers who are really interested in
the topic might take the opportunity to see what is in the archive.
However, even if the existence of the earlier discussion is known, that
does not mean that the topic should not be revisited, especially by those
who were not here at the time.

Second, about THE TOPIC:

Sometimes, dance instructions are a bit vague (or overly constrained, i.e.,
they just don't work). If it is possible, it is helpful to ask the
choreographer what s/he had in mind. In the case of Mairi's Wedding, there
is no ambiguity or conflict in the printed instructions. It is certainly of
historical and human interest to get the author's comments, but for
teaching/dancing the dance, that is not necessary. In no case should an
author's comments be given more weight than the printed instructions.

I think the bottom line is whether or not you are going to do the dance as
written. For the social ballroom, I have a strong preference to teach and
do dances as written, even when I believe there has been a choreographic
error (usually evidenced by awkward transitions). Assuming other teachers
would do the same, that maximizes the dancers' ability to dance
successfully with other groups. However, in a dance like Mairi's Wedding
where so many teachers/dancers have taken license with the diagonal reels,
I make a point of alerting my dancers to the variations they will see, and
to the importance of agreeing with your partner how you will be doing the
reels. More than a few times I have seen the unfortunate collision in the
middle.

[Perhaps another list member with the time and inclination can remind us of
the main points of earlier discussions on doing dances as written.]

Cheers, Oberdan.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8345 · Jan Wilson · 30 Jul 1997 08:55:52 · Top

The very first Social I attended had Mairi's Wedding on the programme. I
was apprehensive about venturing out and had, I hoped, learnt most of the
dances on the programme. My friend (also a new dancer) and I decided that
we knew Mairi's Wedding well enough to take our place on the floor.
Imagine our horror when we found the first couple dancing reels which were
certainly NOT the reels we had learnt - it very nearly put me off SCD
forever. It is also worth noting that of the 8 people in that particular
set FOUR of them were certificated teachers! And all of them knew that we
were very new dancers!

Again I guess it gets back to one of my favourite "hobbyhorses" and that is
that teachers really do need to set a reasonably good example.

Now that I am teaching I do tell dancers what they are likely to experience
BUT I much prefer my own class to dance dances as they are written (I must
admit that I do have some renegades!)

Jan Wilson
Sydney, Australia

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8346 · Stefan Barthel · 30 Jul 1997 12:55:17 · Top

>Again I guess it gets back to one of my favourite "hobbyhorses" and that is
>that teachers really do need to set a reasonably good example.

Right. You have to show it's fun to dance! And sometimes it's much fun to
dance Mairi's Wedding passing right shoulder or even do extra loops in
passing, clap hands ore something else. But you should tell your
beginners - before taking them to a social - not to worry about unusual
things. But those things should not be copied by the beginners, as long
as they are not sure about it.

Sometimes it's a question of your style of teaching. What is a good
example? To be always right, or to be flexible to react suitable to
unexpected situations?

Normally I agree to dance as it has been intended by the author. Most
often there is no sense in changing it, because it can't be done better.
But some old traditional dances do not have the one author, and more than
one possible way to be danced (apart from the RSCDS one). And some dances
like Petronella, Mairi's W. and some more came to their own life, apart
from their authors. Who knows how they will be danced when we are dead? I
guess they still will be fun! It's a living tradition.

Last Thursday we tried out different ways for extra loops in Mairi's
Wedding. Why? We know what is 'correct', but we wanted to be prepared to
do it the other way as well. And there are ceilidh's with noone dancing
the 'correct' way. But if we do it differently, we want to do it nice as
well.

--------------------------------------------------------
Stefan Barthel email: sb@impuls.de
Spardorfer Strasse 40a
D-91054 Erlangen ++49 / 9131 / 20 66 11 (p.)
++49 / 911 / 688 667 71 (d.)

http://nuernberg.netsurf.de/User/barthel
--------------------------------------------------------

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8347 · ERBRUNKEN · 30 Jul 1997 16:18:18 · Top

In a message dated 97-07-30 08:07:51 EDT, Jan Wilson wrote:

<< It is also worth noting that of the 8 people in that particular
set FOUR of them were certificated teachers! And all of them knew that we
were very new dancers! >>

As a teacher, I couldn't agree more. Those who know me....know this is one
of my pet peeves.......this and adding extra twirls!! dangerous! confusing
and frequently spoils the dance for others in the set.

Jan, I'm glad you kept dancing!

Elaine, Virginia (USA)

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8348 · John McCain · 30 Jul 1997 16:54:59 · Top

If your dance group does Mairi's Wedding in demonstration,
I suggest you videotape your group doing reels both passing
by right and left shoulders. We did and were surprised to
see that the less flamboyant-feeling, original way looked
remarkably better.

And we shortened the dance by half.

Regards,
John

John McCain, RCDD
Dallas, Texas, USA

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8350 · Norah Link · 30 Jul 1997 17:48:05 · Top

>>> <Stefan Barthel> 30/07/97 05:55 am >>>
>Again I guess it gets back to one of my favourite "hobbyhorses" and
that is
>that teachers really do need to set a reasonably good example.

Right. You have to show it's fun to dance! And sometimes it's much fun
to
dance Mairi's Wedding passing right shoulder or even do extra loops in
passing, clap hands ore something else. But you should tell your
beginners - before taking them to a social - not to worry about unusual
things. But those things should not be copied by the beginners, as long
as they are not sure about it.
<<<

OK, but what about the example of showing consideration for others in
the set? It's one thing to watch from the sidelines and see a set of
experienced dancers putting in extra twirls. It's another to be in the
middle of it. And if, as Elaine has pointed out, the dancers aren't
really capable but are putting them in anyway, or are catching other
dancers by surprise and putting them off balance, was it really worth
it?

Norah Link
Montreal, Quebec

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8353 · RMess61412 · 30 Jul 1997 20:43:27 · Top

Yes it is fun to do the different from time to time, but when it is taught to
beginners as a demo for a local performance as right shoulder! Just because
its easier for the new people to remember?

These same teachers then jump all over others when little embelishments are
injected by us into other dances with their comment being "dance as it is
written".

If its good for one RSCDS dance it should be for all.

Robert Messner

Rmess61412@aol.com Atlanta GA USA

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8355 · Irene Van Maarseveen · 30 Jul 1997 23:28:05 · Top

Going back to the "dating" bit that started this topic off,
and using that as an excuse to continue the discussion ...
If you're tired of it, delete this.

Colin Garrett said he thinks Mairi's Wedding was first published in
1959, and that it then clearly specified that the dancing couple
should pass left shoulders in the half reels of four.

James Cosh's letter to The Reel was printed in 1961, and dispels any
myths that his original intention or preference was other than what
was actually published.

The edition I have of the booklet was printed in or after 1973, and
still says to pass left shoulders.

Colin also said:
> I once asked James about this and he said
> "Do what is comfortable!"
That, AFAIK, is _new_ information to this list.

I'm assuming we can take that as factual (sorry, Colin, I don't know
you). _When_ was that? Did James/Jimmy Cosh eventually resign
himself to the fact that very many people evidently think that the
reels are more fun or flow better passing right shoulders? Was he
later _comfortable_ with that variation on his dance?

A number of people (now too many to name) have pointed out that:
- a dance should be taught (and danced) as written;
- consistency makes it easier to dance in any group anywhere;
- teachers should point out any variations that might be
encountered;
- unexpected variations in a dance can be distressing and
confusing for inexperienced dancers;
- such variations can lead to mishaps;
- dancers should consider the rest of the set;
- if little embellishments are accepted in one dance, then why not
others too;
- some think variations can be more fun or "better", some disagree.

Ok. Good points.

Personally, I always preferred the right-shoulders version of the
Mairi's Wedding reels - and we used to believe that that was, in
fact, the _original_ (though unpublished) way. Then I heard, via Ron
Mackey's quote of the letter in The Reel, that James Cosh
specifically wanted people to pass left shoulders. Frankly, for me
that has put a damper on a dance which I used to think of as a
"last-on-the-programme-and-just-let-your-hair-down-and-have-fun" one.
Passing left shoulders is a bit restrained (and can be awkward if
either person dances the loops a bit wide), and passing right
shoulders is going against the clear wish of the deviser.

Do we really need to make such an issue of this particular variation
in this particular dance? After all -
- it directly affects only you and your partner;
- beginners could in any case potentially be confused by the reels,
as there are some dances in which the dancing couple _should_ pass
right shoulders;
- we do make minor adaptations to other dances, such as all joining
in for a final circle when it should only be three couples;
- some dances have been revised since their initial publication, and
a modified version later republished; and
- there are other dances in which regional variations are recognised
(eg The Robertson Rant).

To add one more date: James Cosh died in October 1995.

Irene van Maarseveen
Pretoria, South Africa
ivmaarse@csir.co.za

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8360 · Martin.Sheffield · 31 Jul 1997 02:56:00 · Top

Irene wrote:

>- it directly affects only you and your partner;

That's the best thing anyone has said so far , IM(H)O, of course.

Do what you like, as long as you know what your partner feels about it.

And let's not get too stuffy about these things, please.

Yours,
Martin,
Grenoble, France.
------------ http://perso.wanadoo.fr/scots.in.france/ --------

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8364 · ERBRUNKEN · 31 Jul 1997 06:54:19 · Top

In a message dated 97-07-30 18:57:50 EDT, you write:

<< Irene wrote:

>- it directly affects only you and your partner;

That's the best thing anyone has said so far , IM(H)O, of course.

Do what you like, as long as you know what your partner feels about it.

And let's not get too stuffy about these things, please. >>

I beg to differ... It affects the whole set.....eye contact, covering and
the feeling of dancing together is often affected. by twirls etc. the
shoulder passed in the middle of MW affects the entrance into the next 1/2
reel. This is a 'team sport' Not an individual one... I always remember
the 'divine Miss M' saying "if any one dancer is 'noticed' as standing
out.....thay are not exhibiting good teamwork, and that is NOT good dancing!
"

HHHMMMM!!!! we could all learn from that ...don't you think!?

Elaine....again!

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8367 · Susanna Mayr · 31 Jul 1997 11:57:30 · Top

Irene van Maarseveen wrote:
>
>(...)
> To add one more date: James Cosh died in October 1995.
>
I am unsure what to make of this. Is it just a comment ? Or does it mean
that his intention in writing the dance as published can now be
disregarded ?
I have always danced Mairi's Wedding passing left shoulders. Phrasing
the loops to just pass in the middle between the two half reels, not
forgetting eye contact !, is what I think S.C.D. is about ...

Susi
Vienna (Austria)
susi@redrose.co.at (home)
susi.mayr@beasys.de (work)

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8369 · colin garrett · 31 Jul 1997 12:05:18 · Top

Jan wrote:

"Again I guess it gets back to one of my favourite "hobbyhorses" and that
is
that teachers really do need to set a reasonably good example."

I couldn't agree more!

Colin

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8370 · colin garrett · 31 Jul 1997 12:05:28 · Top

I entirely agree that dances should be taught as published even if they are
frequently danced in a slightly different version. I have been dancing
Mairi's Wedding since about 1960 and most often the set has wished to do a
right shoulder pass. I hope that , when teaching, I have always pointed
out the variations that may commonly occur. Whichever way you do it, it is
still one of the most popular dances!

Oberdan asks for the main points of doing dances as written. The joy of
SCD is that one can dance anywhere from New Haven to New Plymouth and know
that a given dance will be danced (almost) the same wherever one is. It
is very uncomfortable to find that a "local" variation has been introduced
in a dance that one is sure one knows!

Colin Garrett

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8375 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 31 Jul 1997 13:16:12 · Top

Suzanna Mayr queries:

>Irene van Maarseveen wrote:
>> To add one more date: James Cosh died in October 1995.
>>
>I am unsure what to make of this. Is it just a comment ? Or does it mean
>that his intention in writing the dance as published can now be
>disregarded ?

Interesting... I took it to mean that we can no longer ask James B. Cosh
what he thinks about Mairi's Wedding. But this is yet another example that
the artist does not have to be present for his artwork to inspire.

Cheers, Oberdan.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Marigold

Message 8376 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 31 Jul 1997 13:16:22 · Top

Hi all,

Last night we were working on Gothenberg's Welcome and getting that neat
12-bar figure to work. Of course several of us recognized it as nearly
identical to the figure that James B. Cosh devised for his dance, Marigold,
in 22+2. The characteristics of the figure are so distinctive that it is
hard to believe that it was independently devised. But even if it were, it
would seem that the dance publication should have acknowledge the
similarity between Gothenberg's figure and the original Marigold figure
(which traces out the petals of the Marigold flower). It seems unlikely
that the venerable members of the publications committee would be
unfamiliar with Marigold. Does anybody know how such an oversight was
sustained?

Thanks, Oberdan Otto.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8377 · Angus Henry · 31 Jul 1997 13:22:43 · Top

>The very first Social I attended had Mairi's Wedding on the programme. I
>was apprehensive about venturing out and had, I hoped, learnt most of the
>dances on the programme. My friend (also a new dancer) and I decided that
>we knew Mairi's Wedding well enough to take our place on the floor.
>Imagine our horror when we found the first couple dancing reels which were
>certainly NOT the reels we had learnt - it very nearly put me off SCD
>forever. It is also worth noting that of the 8 people in that particular
>set FOUR of them were certificated teachers! And all of them knew that we
>were very new dancers!
>
>Again I guess it gets back to one of my favourite "hobbyhorses" and that is
>that teachers really do need to set a reasonably good example.
>
>Now that I am teaching I do tell dancers what they are likely to experience
>BUT I much prefer my own class to dance dances as they are written (I must
>admit that I do have some renegades!)
>
>Jan Wilson
>Sydney, Australia

Hear Hear! If you want to dance SCD, why not dance Mairi's Wedding? It IS
a dance written by Jimmy Cosh. If you want to turn somersaults, swing on
a trapeze, spin like a top or do the splits etc, why not join a circus or
take up gymnastics? (:-^).

Vive la difference!

(I once danced Mairi's Wedding with a (big!) partner who knew the correct
way, but chose without warning to charge into a right shoulder pass in the
half reels. She thought it was funny - I said nothing, but behaved
politely. A few days later I partnered her in General Stuart's Reel; after
turning 2nd corners left hand, I danced a right shoulder pass (following
the same principle). She did not think it was funny - I said nothing but
behaved politely.)

Angus

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Angus & Puka Henry:- 4 Eagle Court, WULAGI, NT 0812, AUSTRALIA
PHONE: (International) + 61 8 8927 9203 (Australia) (08) 8927 9203
FAX: as phone; (but phone first for contact)
E-mail: ahenry@taunet.net.au

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8380 · Irene Van Maarseveen · 31 Jul 1997 16:41:29 · Top

I hadn't intended replying publicly to this, but as both Susi Mayr
and Oberdan have now seen something different in my remark

> To add one more date: James Cosh died in October 1995

let me say that it was purely and simply a comment, linking back to
the "Dating and Dancing" that started this discussion (remember...?).

Irene van Maarseveen
Pretoria, South Africa
ivmaarse@csir.co.za

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8385 · Martin.Sheffield · 31 Jul 1997 20:40:51 · Top

>
> (personal improvization) directly affects only you and your partner;
>
> That's the best thing anyone has said so far , IM(H)O, of course.
>
> Do what you like, as long as you know what your partner feels about it.
>
> And let's not get too stuffy about these things, please. >>
>
>I beg to differ... It affects the whole set.....

Right. I'll beg, too:

>eye contact,
You don't have to be in the prescribed position to look at someone. Au
contraire, eye contact helps enormously in hinting imminent variants of a
figure, and taking up the cue and acting accordingly.

>covering,
I was thinking about dancing not demonstrating.

>the shoulder passed in the middle of MW affects the entrance into the next 1/2
>reel.
Hardly! In any case, the "wrong" shoulder gives plenty of time for second
corner to see you coming, whereas the L shoulder passing brings you up very
close to 2nd cn in the 4th bar.

>This is a 'team sport' Not an individual one...
I should have said it was a couple sport.
The new dances do indeed require more team work and correct relative
positioning, speed, balance, compared with the older ones where you dance
mainly with your partner, or as a couple with one other couple.

>I always remember
>the 'divine Miss M' saying "if any one dancer is 'noticed' as standing
>out.....thay are not exhibiting good teamwork,
I'll even disagree with Miss M: who is on exhibition? I thought we were
there to enjoy ourselves.
On the dance floor, is every dancer identical in style, manner,
personality...? some are bound to stand out.
In fact, going back in time a little, when formal dances were the one place
where polite society allowed a little mild flirting, many dancers were
there just to show off and attract a partner, so we could say that fancy
stepwork, turns, twiddles and handstands are all part of the tradtion.
Don't we want to keep tradition alive?

Yours,
Martin,
Grenoble, France.
------------ http://perso.wanadoo.fr/scots.in.france/ --------

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8386 · Richard L. Walker · 31 Jul 1997 20:55:53 · Top

Yep. Of course standardization is also a major part of our
tradition. Chopping anothers comments to shreads isn't -- unless it
is a new tradition.

> ...there just to show off and attract a partner, so we could say
> that fancy stepwork, turns, twiddles and handstands are all part of
> the tradtion.. Don't we want to keep tradition alive?
Richard L. Walker
Pensacola FL (City of Five Flags) USA
rlwalker@granis.net

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8387 · Jon Kay · 31 Jul 1997 20:59:06 · Top

Jennifer_Sawin@pcmailgw.ml.com sez:
> No wonder many folks (Peter Price - you listening?)
> have given up contras as too risky! Hate to see that happen to SCD!

Despite this, in many places it is far easier to convince beginners to
return to Scottish than contra dancing, because beginners are more
likely to enjoy themselves and see people having fun around them. Ahem.

I think the problem here is really that Mairi's Wedding and
Montgomeries' Rant are danced so frequently that people forget
they are actually complicated. I doubt that would have happened, say,
with Black Mountain Reel.

Jon

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8388 · Jon Kay · 31 Jul 1997 21:01:58 · Top

ERBRUNKEN@aol.com wrote:
> I always remember
> the 'divine Miss M' saying "if any one dancer is 'noticed' as standing
> out...thay are not exhibiting good teamwork, and that is NOT good dancing!"

So if a set is threatening to fall apart, one should not stand out by
setting an example to keep the set together. Urm.

You must believe Miss Milligan herself stood out somehow in a positive
manner to be quoting her thus.

Jon

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8394 · Todd Pierce · 31 Jul 1997 22:21:32 · Top

The Mairi's Wedding thread has me thinking...a previous message said

>The joy ofSCD is that one can dance anywhere from New Haven to New Plymouth and know
>that a given dance will be danced (almost) the same wherever one is. It
>is very uncomfortable to find that a "local" variation has been introduced
>in a dance that one is sure one knows!

One of the reasons I enjoy SCD is precisely because of the local differences. Doing a dance exactly the same way everywhere would get rather boring - imagine if every restaurant you ate in cooked food the same way! Thankfully, we have regional cuisines and ethnic dishes. Why not have regional dancing? Just as you find a good recipe from another part of the world, you can bring home an interesting dance variation and try it in your own dance group. (I'm thinking of 'Wilder Geese' as I write this!) If everyone danced the same way, or did the same dances on each programme, there would be little reason to travel to other cities to dance.

As for twiddles in dances...I teach my group the way a dance is written, then point out the variations they may find (such as twiddles, or right hand passes in Mairi's Wedding, or 'flippy turns' in Duke of Perth, or having 1st and 2nd couples dancing Petronella). I encourage beginners to refrain from doing the 'extras' until they know the 'correct' dance version. From there, it's up to the individual dancer and the collective dancers in the set to decide if now is the time and place for extras, or if it should best be held off for this dance. We're all adults here, and my group doesn't need me constantly supervising them.

It seems to work well that we have one or two dances where we can all cut loose, such as Mairi's Wedding, after doing all the other dances properly.

Todd Pierce
tpierce@terrabase.com
Scottish Country Dancers of Caledonian Society of Baton Rouge, LA
(not an RSCDS-affiliated group or branch, if anyone wondered - and I'm not trying to make any statements
by pointing this out to you - just might help explain our local attitudes a little better)

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8397 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 31 Jul 1997 23:51:07 · Top

On Thu, 31 Jul 1997, M Sheffield wrote:

> >eye contact,

> You don't have to be in the prescribed position to look at someone. Au
> contraire, eye contact helps enormously in hinting imminent variants of a
> figure, and taking up the cue and acting accordingly.

I "see" the dancers behind me and the dancers in all the sets. How many of
you will reach this level of dancing if you are continually dancing with
just your partner and can't expand your horizons to include even your own
set? Bruce Hamilton now has a series of classes aimed at helping dances
achieve this attribute among others.

> >covering,
> I was thinking about dancing not demonstrating.

Here I go again: We use the word "covering" as though all we are is a
team of demonstrators. In fact if you are dancing socially you are
dancing together with the whole and you can look (or feel) other sets
"covering" My, how I hate that word! But then shouting "Togetherness" at
a class of Scottish dancers wouldn't achieve the right results either.

> In fact, going back in time a little, when formal dances were the one place
> where polite society allowed a little mild flirting, many dancers were
> there just to show off and attract a partner, so we could say that fancy
> stepwork, turns, twiddles and handstands are all part of the tradtion.
> Don't we want to keep tradition alive?

I believe that there were more rules about does and don't then there are now.
The tiniest movements were considered flirtaceous and good footwork and
displaying knowledge of how to dance were a compliments to one's partner.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Covering/Phrasing (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8399 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 1 Aug 1997 01:25:53 · Top

Hi All,

Priscilla Burrage responded...
>> >covering,
>> I was thinking about dancing not demonstrating.
>
>Here I go again: We use the word "covering" as though all we are is a
>team of demonstrators. In fact if you are dancing socially you are
>dancing together with the whole and you can look (or feel) other sets
>"covering" My, how I hate that word! But then shouting "Togetherness" at
>a class of Scottish dancers wouldn't achieve the right results either.

Yes, "covering" is one of my hot buttons. This time however, I have
something new to say about it. But first a quick recap of my point-of-view
on the utility of the notion of covering:

COVERING is the alignment of dancers with respect to each other. It may be
something that occurs for only an instant (such as crossing together in the
middle of a figure of 8) or it may be extended in time (such as couples
turning together). Good covering shows only that the dancers are together.
It does not show that they are phrasing correctly--they could all be ahead
(this is the usual case) or behind of where they should be. Poor covering
shows that SOMEBODY is off, but it does not identify who the somebody is.
Overuse of watching for covering will draw a dancer's attention away from
the person with whom s/he is dancing. On the other hand, dancers who phrase
well, will automatically be covered!

It turns out that there is a common situation where covering CAN show you
if you are phrasing well. The idea here is based on the presumption that
stationary dancers are in the right place. I find this is usually the
case--there are very few clueless dancers who do not know how to line up
with the rest of the set when they are standing. Suppose 1st couple is
casting around corners into 2nd place, with 2nd and 3rd couples standing in
the normal corner positions. Next suppose all 3 couples are supposed to
turn their partners. What often happens is that 1st couple's turn is
noticeably ahead of the other couples' turns, because 1st couple arrives in
2nd place too soon. 2nd and 3rd couples are in the right place, and (if
they are alert as usual) they will start their turns at the right time. So
it is high probability that 2nd and 3rd couples' turns begin correctly
phrased. If 1st couple's turn does not begin aligned (covered) with 2nd and
3rd couples' turns, then 1st couple's phrasing is off (Hah! Caught in the
act of phrasing poorly! GoDirectlyToJail, DoNotPassGo,
DoNotCollect200Dollars). 1st couple must be sensitive to the fact that 3
couples are turning together. The couples can continue to watch their
covering throughout the turn, but unfortunately, that will not guarantee
that the whole turn is phrased well!

I believe that good phrasing by all dancers is a desirable objective in the
social ballroom (not just demonstrations) because the dances work better
and are more enjoyable when phrased well.

Cheers, Oberdan Otto.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Covering/Phrasing (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8406 · cnordj · 1 Aug 1997 11:08:29 · Top

Right on, Oberdan! Phrasing rightly is a pleasure to do, and also to see.
Cheers, Carol
======================================
Carol N. Johnson, Manhattan Beach, CA
cnordj@sprynet.com
======================================

Covering/Phrasing (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8408 · Ian Brockbank 05-Jan-1995 0951 · 1 Aug 1997 11:55:49 · Top

Oberdan <ootto@tvt.com> writes

> Yes, "covering" is one of my hot buttons.

Mine too. May I borrow your soapbox?

[ Paraphrase: covering is just making sure everyone is in alignment - it
doesn't mean that everyone is right, often just that everyone is wrong
together.]

There was an instance recently where the "covering" school of thought won
out over the "phrasing" to the detriment of the performance. We were
giving a performance with 4 sets in two lines of two sets, men back to
back. At the end of the performance we were to bow/curtsey and then march
off. In the practice we all (in lieu of a directive) waited for 4 bars
after the bow and then marched off together. Afterwards a definitive
decision was asked of the dem leader as to when we should march off. The
initial decision was "after 4 bars" but the covering lobby got this changed
to "the women in 1st place decide". So what eventually happened was that
our set started marching off after 2-3 bars (depending on our reaction
times), and the other sets started at anything from 1-4 bars. It was a
shambles.

[ More paraphrasing: standing couples _are_ worth covering with since they
are likely to be in the right place. ]

Thank you. You've finally crystallised a feeling I've had. I knew there
were cases for covering as well as phrasing, but I could never put my
finger on what defined them. I think that's it.

> I believe that good phrasing by all dancers is a desirable objective in
the
> social ballroom (not just demonstrations) because the dances work better
> and are more enjoyable when phrased well.

Hmmm. You're talking connoisseur level here. At least that's what Caroline
and I have decided, based on the dances we attend. So many wonderful
dances which need to be phrased right for maximum enjoyment we hear people
poo-pooing because "they don't flow". Back to the Fireside and Joie de
Vivre are two examples which spring to mind. Joie de Vivre particularly is
nothing much until you phrase it right, but the feeling when everyone gets
the timing right is just wonderful.

I hope you have more connoiseurs over your way!

Okay, you can have your soapbox back now.

Cheers,

Ian

Ian.Brockbank@edo.mts.dec.com
Edinburgh, Scotland

Covering/Phrasing (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8418 · William Crawford · 1 Aug 1997 19:44:00 · Top

In message <01BC9E58.8BD8C080@IANB>
"Ian Brockbank, OpenVMS Engineering"
<brockbank@movies.enet.dec.com> writes:

snip...(well hack actually!)

> I hope you have more connoiseurs over your way!

Sorry to hear we aren't good enough for you Ian!!

:>

William

Covering/Phrasing (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8428 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 2 Aug 1997 21:35:31 · Top

Ian Brockbank paraphrases:

>[ Paraphrase: covering is just making sure everyone is in alignment - it
>doesn't mean that everyone is right, often just that everyone is wrong
>together.]
>[ More paraphrasing: standing couples _are_ worth covering with since they
>are likely to be in the right place. ]

YES! I wish I could have been as succinct!

>I hope you have more connoiseurs over your way!

Perhaps not in the way you mean it. But now you've got me thinking...

I think phrasing connoiseurs come in two varieties: (1) those who can
_recognize_ good phrasing; (2) those who can _do_ good phrasing (including
a broad range of ability to do good phrasing).

Variety (1) is a much larger group than Variety (2). I think even a lot of
non-dancers who watch SCD could be deemed competent at recognizing good
phrasing, i.e. we know it when we see it.

It occurs to me that developing/tuning skills for recognizing good phrasing
in dancers might help us produce more people of Variety (2) or improve the
phrasing skills of Variety (2) dancers. I wonder if anybody out there has
experience with exercises designed to help dancers understand good phrasing
by _watching_ others dance. Do such exercises help?

Cheers, Oberdan Otto.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Covering/Phrasing (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8430 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 3 Aug 1997 00:27:56 · Top

On Sat, 2 Aug 1997, Oberdan Otto wrote:

{snip a lot of good remarks}

> . . . . come in two varieties: (1) those who can
> _recognize_ good phrasing; (2) those who can _do_ good phrasing (including
> a broad range of ability to do good phrasing).
>
> Variety (1) is a much larger group than Variety (2). I think even a lot of
> non-dancers who watch SCD could be deemed competent at recognizing good
> phrasing, i.e. we know it when we see it.
>
> It occurs to me that developing/tuning skills for recognizing good phrasing
> in dancers might help us produce more people of Variety (2) or improve the
> phrasing skills of Variety (2) dancers. I wonder if anybody out there has
> experience with exercises designed to help dancers understand good phrasing
> by _watching_ others dance. Do such exercises help?

Certainly watching others and being told precisely what they are doing to
attain good phrasing could work, but I thinnk that the teacher has also
to encourage and coach the dancer in developing the dancing skills required
for good phrasing.

Let me give some examples: How many of you have been TAUGHT when to lift
your arms in making a circle? Or the sneaky little trick for shaping the
oval into a circle quickly? Or the way to end a circle so that all the
dancers feel the JOY of dancing together?

Or another example: How many of you, in step practise, have done an
exercise for increasing the length of each subsequent strathspey or skip
change of step? Or decreasing them? And the same exercise dancing
backwards? (With markers on the dance floor so you KNOW you're achieving
a continuously increasing or decreasing length of footwork.)

Or how many of you have done an exercise with mirror or parellel reels for
the purpose of improving your awareness of all five other dancers?

happy dancing,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Covering/Phrasing (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8445 · cnordj · 4 Aug 1997 10:00:47 · Top

Hm, Oberdan, you got me thinking too, when you wrote:

> I wonder if anybody out there has
>experience with exercises designed to help dancers understand good phrasing
>by _watching_ others dance. Do such exercises help?

When dancing, we have more concerns than proper phrasing; we are socially interacting
with partner and others who may not be phrasing well, and we want to fit in because we
want them to want to dnace with us again (usually, anyway ;-) ).

But when watching a dance, the visual aspect is what affects us, so the quality
of the phrasing is more noticeable.

So, I would like to see teachers encourage students to "perform" (put on a good show)
for any watchers in class, or rehease for being watched, so that this importance of the
visual is emphasized.

Cheers, Carol Johnson, Manhattan Beach, CA

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8407 · Ian Brockbank 05-Jan-1995 0951 · 1 Aug 1997 11:29:15 · Top

Jon Kay <jkay@cs.ucsd.edu> writes

> I think the problem here is really that Mairi's Wedding and
> Montgomeries' Rant are danced so frequently that people forget
> they are actually complicated. I doubt that would have happened, say,
> with Black Mountain Reel.

You forgot regional variation in repertoire, Jon. Among New Scotland when
I was starting to dance Black Mountain Reel fell into the same category as
Mairi's Wedding - good hooley in which to let one's hair down - and
Montgomeries' Rant didn't.

Just throwing in my twopenn'orth.

Ian

BTW Just out of curiosity, where are you based? It didn't seem to show up
in your signature.

--
Ian.Brockbank@edo.mts.dec.com
Edinburgh, Scotland

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8423 · ERBRUNKEN · 2 Aug 1997 07:59:08 · Top

In a message dated 97-08-01 05:03:41 EDT, you write:

You must believe Miss Milligan herself stood out somehow in a positive
manner to be quoting her thus. >>

Yes she did......by example as a teacher!! Not by twirling and looping
through dances!

Elaine

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8427 · kerstin kuhn · 2 Aug 1997 21:25:41 · Top

>>> I have been reading the Maire's Wedding discussion with interest -
and some exasperation. It seems to me that opinions are becoming
needlessly polarised on this thing. <<<

Thank you very much, Monica - I was really starting to wonder whether SCD is the right form of dancing for me!
Well, not really after 18 years; but I have noticed before that quite a few Scottish Balls tend to be - let´s say, not
overly exuberant. Probably because everyone seems to be afraid that someone is going to stop the music if you
twirl (I have known this to happen, though not to me!).

And when I hear now that you´re not supposed to stand out it reminds me strongly of dreary East German
Communism - everything was the same grey over there.

I firmly believe that there is room for both - for standarizing, so dance groups do not completely drift apart, and
for variations, for twirls, for fun and exuberance - at the right place, in the right set. And it annoys and hurts me
when people try to tell me it´s wrong to find the JOY OF DANCING in exuberance; that you´re supposed to
have fun _exclusively_ in covering and phrasing and in "being good".

So, enjoy yourselves dancing - and let others do the same!

Kerstin Kuhn, Proitzer Muehle, Germany

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8436 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 3 Aug 1997 08:02:00 · Top

Kerstin Kuhn writes:

>And it annoys and hurts me when people try to tell me it¥s wrong
>to find the JOY OF DANCING in exuberance; that you¥re supposed to
>have fun _exclusively_ in covering and phrasing and in "being good".

For some reason, I am reminded of the great philosopher/singer/moonwalker,
Michael Jackson, who repeatedly exclaimed: "I'm bad, I'm bad, I'm bad",
meaning of course, that he was very good. I guess that means it is good to
be bad. :)

I like exuberance in a dancer. Also, like Kerstin and Monica, I dislike it
intensely when some dancers appoint themselves as judges of whether _other_
dancers are dancing suitably. I think such self appointments are way out of
line. I also think dancers should take personal responsibility and judge
for themselves if their own behavior is appropriate.

Now, regarding embellishments: Lets not confuse embellishments with
exuberance and fun. I think there is a place for embellishments and that
they can be fun when they are performed skillfully and are not at the
expense of other dancers. Embellishments can be very un-fun if somebody is
confused, battered or injured because of them.

Who said that passing left shoulders for a diagonal reel of 4 is not fun?
Who said that doing a dance or formation correctly is not fun? Who said
that phrasing well is not fun? Maybe it was somebody with a broken fun
meter.

SCD is a group activity. I submit that most of the fun we derive in a dance
owes to our interactions with the other dancers--not so much from the
specific formations and their sequence but from the opportunities they
provide to interact.

Some forms of embellishment such as twiddles (extra twirls) are either
socially neutral or anti-social (especially when poorly executed). A
well-executed twiddle adds nothing to the social feeling of the set. It is
fun for the twiddler because it allows the dancer to push his/her own
envelope of skill. If the twiddle is performed successfully, the rest of
the set can be impressed by the twiddler's prowess. But do not be deceived
that twiddles improve the sociability of the dance. A twirling dancer is
not interacting socially with the other dancers--a twiddle is danced
primarily for self gratification. I will be the first to admit that
self-gratification can be very healthy. But if you need large doses of it,
there are dance forms such as Highland dancing and Country Western line
dancing where individual prowess is really appreciated. For Scottish
Country Dancing, however, I can't imagine anything more boring or sterile
than a set of dancers trying to impress each other with their individual
prowess (Ho, Hum; big YAWN!).

[Speaking of individual prowess, I am reminded of Michael Flatley at the
end of Lord of the Dance, strutting around the stage, arms uplifted,
yelling YES! YES! YES! to the unending applause of the audience. After
about the fourth encore my 12-year-old son exclaimed, "Boy is that guy full
of himself or what!"]

Now, if you really want to impress the other dancers by doing twiddles in
the middle of diagonal reels of 4, be sure you do it with a LEFT shoulder
pass--it is much more demanding than with a lazy right shoulder pass!
(Ooops, I think I have admitted to some skill with a socially neutral
behavior...)

Cheers, Oberdan Otto.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Mairi's Wedding

Message 8437 · Lynn Messing · 3 Aug 1997 15:41:29 · Top

At 09:03 PM 8/2/97 -0700, Oberdan Otto wrote:

>Some forms of embellishment such as twiddles (extra twirls) are either
>socially neutral or anti-social (especially when poorly executed). A
>well-executed twiddle adds nothing to the social feeling of the set.

While this may be true most of the time, I would disagree about it being a
universal. An exception that comes to mind is in the track figure of
Flowers of Edinburgh. When the leader of the track is sufficiently far
ahead that their adding a twiddle won't throw the follower off, a
well placed twiddle can add tremendously to the flirtation of the figure.
It permits the two to make brief eye contact, and seems to say, "I *want*
to be caught, and I'm giving you a chance to catch up." Naturally, for
this to work without hurting the dance, the leader must compensate by
travelling farther on all of the other steps, thereby being in the
appropriate position at the end of bar six. And of course, it would not
be an appropriate thing to do if the follower (or, to a lesser extent,
anyone else in the set) is a beginner. But in the right circumstances,
that twiddle does indeed add a level of sociability to the dance.

cheers, Lynn Messing messing@asel.udel.edu Pennsylvania/Delaware, USA

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8443 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 3 Aug 1997 23:18:19 · Top

Lynn Messing notes:

>At 09:03 PM 8/2/97 -0700, Oberdan Otto wrote:
>
>>Some forms of embellishment such as twiddles (extra twirls) are either
>>socially neutral or anti-social (especially when poorly executed). A
>>well-executed twiddle adds nothing to the social feeling of the set.
>
>While this may be true most of the time, I would disagree about it being a
>universal. An exception that comes to mind is in the track figure of
>Flowers of Edinburgh. When the leader of the track is sufficiently far
>ahead that their adding a twiddle won't throw the follower off, a
>well placed twiddle can add tremendously to the flirtation of the figure...

Neat! I never thought of that one. But I wonder if that twiddle is any more
social than the inviting glance back over the shoulder (often with a slight
body turn) with which I am familiar. I guess I will have to try it to find
out!

Cheers, Oberdan Otto.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8622 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 23 Aug 1997 16:52:18 · Top

On Sun, 3 Aug 1997, Oberdan Otto wrote:

> Lynn Messing notes:
>
> >At 09:03 PM 8/2/97 -0700, Oberdan Otto wrote:
> >
> >>Some forms of embellishment such as twiddles (extra twirls) are either
> >>socially neutral or anti-social (especially when poorly executed). A
> >>well-executed twiddle adds nothing to the social feeling of the set.
> >
> >While this may be true most of the time, I would disagree about it being a
> >universal. An exception that comes to mind is in the track figure of
> >Flowers of Edinburgh. When the leader of the track is sufficiently far
> >ahead that their adding a twiddle won't throw the follower off, a
> >well placed twiddle can add tremendously to the flirtation of the figure...
>
> Neat! I never thought of that one. But I wonder if that twiddle is any more
> social than the inviting glance back over the shoulder (often with a slight
> body turn) with which I am familiar. I guess I will have to try it to find
> out!

An excellent dialog! Thank you for saying it on strathspey.

Re the Flowers of Edinburgh -- I still remember that once, during the 'she
chases him' figure, my partner, a charming gentleman, turned to face me
for a bar of music. Without sacrificing his footwork, without flourishes.
I considered it a compliment and others in the set smiled with approval
and understanding. Now if that happened in every dance, or if there
hadn't been a special something between us, would I remember it after
nearly forty years?

I'm trying to say that if you always twirl at the same place in the same
figure in the same dance, if you always pass right shoulder when the
dance is written left shoulder (or vice versa!), or if your reason for
embellishing a dance is always to show off your ability rather than to
bring a smile to the lips of others, then it is time you reach out to
learn more about the group activity called Scottish Country dancing.

happy dancing with others,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8623 · Peter Hastings · 23 Aug 1997 17:04:08 · Top

Dear Priscilla

On Sat, 23 Aug 1997, Priscilla M. Burrage wrote:

> ...or if your reason for embellishing a dance is always to show off
> your ability rather than to bring a smile to the lips of others,...

This is a forlorn hope - those who will smile are always outnumbered by
those who will frown at any deviation, irrespective of its cause. Those
who smile will be reminded (privately or publicly) that it is not right
to encourage such embellishments by smiling.

It would make you weep, it really would.

Peter Hastings
Royal Observatory
Edinburtgh
(:

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8625 · Don MacQueen · 24 Aug 1997 09:41:04 · Top

>Dear Priscilla
>
>On Sat, 23 Aug 1997, Priscilla M. Burrage wrote:
>
>> ...or if your reason for embellishing a dance is always to show off
>> your ability rather than to bring a smile to the lips of others,...
>
>This is a forlorn hope - those who will smile are always outnumbered by
>those who will frown at any deviation, irrespective of its cause.

Not around here...
And a lot depends on the circumstance. A social class. A technique class. A
formal ball. My own feeling for what is appropriate or acceptable varies
greatly among these.

>Those
>who smile will be reminded (privately or publicly) that it is not right
>to encourage such embellishments by smiling.

>
>It would make you weep, it really would.
>
>Peter Hastings
>Royal Observatory
>Edinburtgh
>(:
>
>--
>Peter Hastings <P.Hastings@roe.ac.uk>

-----------------
Don MacQueen
Livermore, California USA
macq@ccnet.com
-----------------

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8624 · Bryan McAlister · 24 Aug 1997 03:24:03 · Top

Another embelishment I have come across in Flower's of Edinburgh was
where the follower caught up with their partner and tapped them on the
shoulder, thus triggering the glance over the shoulder.
>
>Re the Flowers of Edinburgh -- I still remember that once, during the 'she
>chases him' figure, my partner, a charming gentleman, turned to face me
>for a bar of music. Without sacrificing his footwork, without flourishes.
>I considered it a compliment and others in the set smiled with approval
>and understanding. Now if that happened in every dance, or if there
>hadn't been a special something between us, would I remember it after
>nearly forty years?
>
>I'm trying to say that if you always twirl at the same place in the same
>figure in the same dance, if you always pass right shoulder when the
>dance is written left shoulder (or vice versa!), or if your reason for
>embellishing a dance is always to show off your ability rather than to
>bring a smile to the lips of others, then it is time you reach out to
>learn more about the group activity called Scottish Country dancing.
>
>happy dancing with others,
>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
>(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)
>
>

--

Bryan McAlister B. Arch RIBA ARIAS MaPS
Linlithgow , Scotland

You are cordially invited to visit my/our web page at
___
http://www.bryanmac.demon.co.uk /___\
IIIII_____IIIIII___________under construction
============================= but growing

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8626 · Richard L. Walker · 24 Aug 1997 10:28:18 · Top

Was that RIGHT shoulder or LEFT?

> Another embelishment I have come across in Flower's of Edinburgh
> was where the follower caught up with their partner and tapped them
> on the shoulder, thus triggering the glance over the shoulder..
Richard L. Walker
Pensacola FL (City of Five Flags) USA
rlwalker@granis.net

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8627 · Martin.Sheffield · 24 Aug 1997 16:59:25 · Top

Priscilla wrote:

> if you always twirl at the same place in the same
>figure in the same dance
>(...)

Yes indeed, embellishments that are merely automatic are as uninteresting
as "dance-by-the-book" orthodoxy.

>, if you always pass right shoulder when the
>dance is written left shoulder (or vice versa!)
>(...)

Dancing in southern England last week, I had the opportunity of inviting a
new face to dance Mairi's Wedding with me.
While waiting our turn to become 1st cp, I asked her "Are you a R-shoulder
or a L-shoulder person?"
"I don't mind at all, "she said, with a bright smile. "What do you prefer?"
"One of each," I replied, since we would of course be having two turns as
1st cp. "Left shoulder first time through."

Unfortunately, she imagined I meant 1st corner reel with L shoulder, 2nd
corner reel with R shoulder, which could well have led to a collision, had
either of us been less nimble. But NOBODY in the set made a sour face or
sharp comment.
(Nor did we all hug each other at the end of the dance, but that's another
matter)

Another partner later the same evening said she wasn't too sure about the
dance we were about to do and hoped I didn't mind. "Not at all," said I.
"I'll help you through."
"Thats what I like about the dances they organize here," she went on.
"Nobody makes you feel uncomfortable."

That's what it's all about.

Yours,
Martin,
Grenoble, France.
------------ http://perso.wanadoo.fr/scots.in.france/ --------

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8630 · Benjamin Stein · 24 Aug 1997 21:15:49 · Top

I have seen the same thing happen in Contra Dancing where a ladies chain is
"always" done with twirls on the womens part and most Contra Dancers put
twirls in a do-si-do, forever changing the figure so it is do longer a back
to back (a free translation of do-si-do). My library includes the old Beth
Tolman-Ralph Page Country Dance Book (some 50 years old) and it contained a
chapter called "Frills and Furbeloes" and that was what fancy steps,
twiddles and twirls were at that time-unusual events tossed in by skilled
dancers now and then to spice up a dance, NOT items done every time that
changed the figure, formation or character of thw whole dance.

I can smile at a well done variation such as an occassional "figure eight
and a wink" through the women on Waverly, when the dancers are moving fast
enough, even if Miss MIlligan banned such "roudiness" from the floor on
occassion (or the tap on the shoulder and smile in Flowers of Edinburgh),
but when it is done all the time, I frown instead of smiling, for it
forever after alters the basic pattern of the dance. I cringe when modern
contra dancers don't think I know what I am doing if I don't twirl on a
do-si-do or a ladies chain and don't feel the need of an assist on a cast,
mostly because they aren't even aware that all these things are modern
additions.

In Scottish Country dancing I hope (as others have expressed so well before
me) that we continue to teach what is the "correct" version, with the
understanding, and explanation, that occassional variations from the norm
can spice things up now and then, if the are done well and with the
knowledge on the part of the dancers, that they ARE variations!

Ben Stein
Burlington Vt USA
Dancers@ Compuserve.Com

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8718 · BioniCelt · 30 Aug 1997 05:12:58 · Top

Touché!

Was that RIGHT shoulder or LEFT?

> Another embelishment I have come across in Flower's of Edinburgh
> was where the follower caught up with their partner and tapped them
> on the shoulder, thus triggering the glance over the shoulder..
Richard L. Walker
Pensacola FL (City of Five Flags) USA
rlwalker@granis.net

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8733 · REBECCA SAGER · 31 Aug 1997 18:09:31 · Top

I really enjoyed this interchange of opinions and would like to submit
some quotes, specifically from Oberdan Otto, Lynn Messing, Priscilla
Burrage and Ben Stein to our newsletter editor, if these people don't
mind.
Personally I'm not a twiddler, except occasionally in chases, Red House
and the Balgeddie Reel more often than Flowers of Edinburgh, but I do
like to do Mairi's Wedding passing left shoulder first time through,
right shoulder second. Both reels give you a great moment of interaction
with your partner on the 4th bar, either the flirtatious glance over the
left shoulder as you come ever-so-close back-to-back, or the face-to-face
passing which the right shoulder gives you - I usually break into slip
step for this. In either case I'm meticulous about transferring my full
attention to the corner person on bar 5 so they have no confusion about
when to start dancing if they happen to be less experienced.
Happy Labor Day y'all, although my English-rooted family is stunned over
Princess Diana's untimely death.
Becky

twiddles & twirls (was Mairi's Wedding)

Message 8737 · Benjamin Stein · 1 Sep 1997 01:21:06 · Top

To Rebecca Sager

Can't speak for the others, but so far as my comments; Please feel free to
use them as you wish.

We too were stunned at Princess Diana's death. Even though I am a strong
supporter of the ACLU I wonder when "freedom of the press" becomes
harassment, stalking and loss of privacy!

To Sig:

The demonstration that our little group did last week at Quechee Vt was on
the grass, albeit under a tent. Can be managed if the grass is trimmed
properly and the ground is even. Better than on pavement!

Ben Stein Burlington, Vt. USA
Dancers @Compuserve/Com

twiddles & twirls

Message 8444 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 3 Aug 1997 23:18:25 · Top

Hi all,

The recent discussion of twirls has got me to thinking about their
mechanics. After all, if one is going to perform a twirl, it should be done
well. It is simply not a good idea to end up out of control, crashing into
somebody, falling down, or maybe just being disoriented and dizzy.

My wife and I do a lot of ballroom/latin dancing in which twirls are quite
common, expecially for the lady. Many tight twirls are also accompanied by
a foot action call a SPIRAL in which the trailing leg and foot wraps around
the leading leg, toe pointed down (being left behind, if you will) before
it steps forward to accept a weight transfer. The spiral action keeps the
feet neat and tidy and helps the dancer focus on control. The spiral
applies primarily to 360-degree twirls that momentarily interrupt the
forward motion. It is interesting that although the forward motion stops
during the twirl, the dancer does not feel a halt because the forward
motion becomes a rotating motion and then becomes a forward motion again.
In addition, many ballroom steps are characterized by being quick or slow
(e.g. quick, quick, slow for a rhumba and sometime foxtrot steps). The
twirl (especially if there is a spiral) usually occurs on the slow.

Another point of interest is that a well-executed spiral, although it
causes a hesitation in the dancer's flow, does NOT shorten the steps--the
same amount of ground would have been covered if the dancer had not
twirled. Of course that is only true for a controlled and skillfully
performed spiral. The potential for dizzyness can be avoided by leaving the
head facing forward for as long as possible and then snapping it around to
face forward again like ballet dancers do during their twirls. In addition
the potential for hitting somebody with flailing arms is minimized if the
arms are permitted to trail the turn, wrapping themselves against the body.

I think the mechanics of the 360-degree spiral described above apply well
to the twirl some SCDancers like to do. I think our twirling friends would
agree that the twirl occurs on the 3rd beat of the music:
step-close-STEP(&twirl)-skip (roughly quick, quick, slow), and that the
body rotation is AWAY from the foot taking the STEP (i.e if the third step
is the LEFT foot, the body turns to the RIGHT--it begins by OPENING toward
the trailing foot).

So, if you plan to do twirls on the social ballroom floor, I suggest you
practice doing them correctly and become competent with them before you
insert them in a dance. If you plan to do twirls, but are not competent
with them, you are not welcome in a set with me--nothing personal, I just
don't like being crashed into.

If you are really good, you can twirl on every skip change of step. Perhaps
you could use this test: if you can routinely do 4 skip changes in a row
(with twirls) without losing your bearings (left twirl, right twirl, left
twirl, right twirl), covering nearly the same distance as a person next to
you dancing a standard skip change, you probably have pretty good control.

So here are what I think are the basic components of a good twirl:
1. Performed on the 3rd beat (that's right, just one beat of music).
2. Turned in the correct direction (opening toward the trailing foot).
3. Trailing foot kept in a tidy spiral, ready to take the next step.
4. Head facing forward as long a possible.
5. Arms kept close to the body.
6. Does not greatly shorten the distance travelled.

Cheers, Oberdan Otto.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Sheet Music for St. Bernard's Waltz

Message 8466 · Hugh Goldie · 6 Aug 1997 21:39:06 · Top

I have heard a wonderful old-time waltz tune used for St. Bernard's Waltz,
with a little "tap-tap" on the wood block used when the dancers raise
their heels or tap their feet in the fourth bar. St. Bernard's Waltz is
not listed in my editions of the Ramsay Index or in Napier's Index.

Would someone please tell me where the music is printed? I will purchase
the publication, if it is available, but would also appreciate a FAX of
the sheet music for immediate use. We are now using a couple of waltz's
(Skye Boat Song and Westering Home), which we play with a little emphasis
on the fourth bar (fiddle bow bounces or percussion); however, I would
like to get the other tune I heard.

Incidently, does "westering home" refer to sailing home with a West wind?

Hugh Goldie, Saskatoon Scottish Country Dancers, Canada
goldie@duke.usask.ca

Sheet Music for St. Bernard's Waltz

Message 8473 · Anselm Lingnau · 7 Aug 1997 10:02:46 · Top

Hugh Goldie <goldie@duke.usask.ca> writes:

> I have heard a wonderful old-time waltz tune used for St. Bernard's Waltz,
> [...]
> Would someone please tell me where the music is printed?

I don't know if it's the tune you're thinking of, but Peter Barnes'
monster collection _A_Little_Couple_Dancemusic_ contains one that is
called St. Bernard's Waltz. You should be able to get it, e.g., through
Fiddler's Crossing (at least that's where I got mine); it's not exactly
cheap but IMHO still a bargain at the price.

Anselm
--
Anselm Lingnau ......................... lingnau@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
What we call 'Progress' is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.
--- Henry Havelock Ellis

Sheet Music for St. Bernard's Waltz

Message 8480 · SMiskoe · 8 Aug 1997 05:57:28 · Top

Years ago I learned St Barbard's Waltz and the record (those were days before
live music) had words. I dont' remember them exactly but here goes anyway:
Come let's dance tonight,
St Barnard's Waltz.
Let's go round dear,
Just like they did in the days of yesteryear
(This isn't quite correct.)
Dreams of yesterday,
That old time refrain,
I'm the hero so tall,
You're the the belle of the ball,
At St. Barnard's Waltz.
Cheers,
Sylvia Miskoe, Concord, NH

Sheet Music for St. Bernard's Waltz

Message 8520 · Courtney Cartwright · 14 Aug 1997 06:20:08 · Top

This is my favourite recording for this dance -- and the one I learned the dance
to, as well. If I recall, Sylvia's got most of it right, but I'll make an edit
or two...
>Years ago I learned St Bernard's Waltz and the record (those were days before
>live music) had words. I dont' remember them exactly but here goes anyway:

Come let's dance tonight,
St Bernard's Waltz.
Let's go round dear,
Just like they did in the old days that used to be
Dreams of yesterday,
That old time refrain,
I'm the hero so tall,
You're the the belle of the ball,
At St. Bernard's Waltz.

I've also heard a number of other recordings with the emphasis of the two stamps
built in to the music. For some reason, "The daring young men of the flying
trapeze" comes to mind, as does "My bonnie lies over the ocean". But the
best is the title tune, IMHO.

--
Courtney Cartwright
Tucson, Arizona
ccartwri@primenet.com

twiddles & twirls

Message 8554 · Malcolm and Helen Brown · 17 Aug 1997 21:03:34 · Top

Oberdan wrote at length about twirls.

I have really only encountered one established teacher at St Andrews who
teaches twirls as part of his skip change technique; his theory is that if
your weight is moving forward there should be no problem in executing the
twirl (he used to complain years ago that it was a pity that no-one had yet
written a dance containing this movement. I wonder if this is where the
twirls in half diagonal reels of four originated). Mind you we still had one
person in the class this year who managed to turn the other way.

I thought it might be easier and, considering the age of some of
the people in my class, safer, to teach the twirl in strathspey time - I had
a lot of people managing to turn the "wrong" way, but at least no-one fell
over.

Of course one must not confuse these twirls with the ones in "half a turn
and twirl" in such dances as Get Weaving by J Drewry (Bankhead 5)

Malcolm Brown (York)
--
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