strathspey Archive: Airborne

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Airborne

Message 8882 · DMGilliam · 11 Sep 1997 06:49:47 · Top

Fellow Dancers,

I think that it is an exhilarating feeling to go airborne on the skip change
of step, but I only do it when I'm feeling special exuberance and think that
a brief abandonment of control is tolerable. I have heard "closing in
mid-air" called a fault, and I certainly think that anything more than the
slightest liftoff is too much.

I would like to get an authoritative opinion on the subject. Could someone
get an RSCDS Examiner to give us an opinion?

Thanks,

David Gilliam
SCDS of Washington, D.C.

Authoritative opinions (was Airborne)

Message 8886 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 11 Sep 1997 11:38:42 · Top

David Gilliam asks:

>I would like to get an authoritative opinion on the subject. Could someone
>get an RSCDS Examiner to give us an opinion?

Well, David, with two short sentences you have managed to dismiss all of
the excellent discussion on skip-change airborne closes in the Strathspey
mailgroup.

To me, an opinion is only an opinion, no matter who gives it. What gives an
opinion authority is the clarity of thought and persuasiveness of its
justification, not the title of the person giving it. I think it would be
great for an RSCDS Examiner to offer his/her perspectives and opinions to
this group. But the time has long passed when I would blindly accept the
pronouncement of someone in the RSCDS hierarchy.

Our discussion here contained more that just opinions. There have been
analysis, observation, philosophy, artistic musings and terminology
suggestions reported as well. I don't know if the discussion has yet
reached its conclusion, but it is very doubtful to me that an opinion
expressed by an RSCDS Examiner would be more definitive than many of the
excellent ideas that have already been expressed.

It is my feeling that most of the thoughts presented in Strathspey are
well-considered and worth listening to. I don't agree with everything that
is said, but even when I disagree, I learn something about other peoples
perspectives in the SCD world.

Thanks everybody for the most welcome enrichment!

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

Authoritative opinions (was Airborne)

Message 8889 · Alex Tweedly · 11 Sep 1997 12:06:24 · Top

> [ ...description of why an RSCDS Examiner should not be considered
> authoritative on this topic ... ]

> Our discussion here contained more that just opinions. There have been
> analysis, observation, philosophy, artistic musings and terminology
> suggestions reported as well. I don't know if the discussion has yet
> reached its conclusion, but it is very doubtful to me that an opinion
> expressed by an RSCDS Examiner would be more definitive than many of the
> excellent ideas that have already been expressed.
>
> It is my feeling that most of the thoughts presented in Strathspey are
> well-considered and worth listening to. I don't agree with everything that
> is said, but even when I disagree, I learn something about other peoples
> perspectives in the SCD world.

So - isn't it time for a technological solution to our discussion ?

There must be someone out there who has
- good RSCDS video showing a "good" skip-change step
(I foresee a good discussion about which ones show "good"
steps)
- a frame-grabber
- ability to post images to a Web site where many of us could view
them.

If they could use technology to finally decide the question of
airborne-ness for racehorses, we can surely do it for Scottish Dancers
:-)

And that raises the question of videos (I don't think I've seen this
topic discussed on S'pey - though I have missed a few short periods).

Anyone got recommendations for good videos (or ones to avoid) ?
If you like one - why ?
What is it good for
- initial teaching,
- learning in remote areas where no teacher is available
- teaching finer points of step technique and figures
- to make it obvious how much fun it can all be ?

-- Alex Tweedly, San Francisco.

Authoritative opinions (was Airborne)

Message 8902 · RSCDSSD · 11 Sep 1997 19:58:26 · Top

Alex,

I would image the locally produced Red Thistle video would be a good source
for viewing. Surely Kathy Bertics' skip change (whether done walking, or at
speed) has to be one of the most graceful, and "accurate" demonstrations one
could ask for. (Apologies for the "in" comment about someone most of you
won't know. But if you see the video Kathy's the dancer demonstrating skip
change slowly. No, it isn't full speed slowed down electronically, and no,
she has no one supporting her. It's all her own skill and strength).

Does anyone else remember seeing a film (must be more than 20 years ago that
I saw) of Bob Blackie and Mary Murray demonstrating steps? Oh my, it was
beautiful to watch - their dancing was effortless. Not sure what happened to
it but it would still be worth viewing.

And Martin, I add my vote to the use of the word "displace" rather than
"kick" for the transfer of weight from the back foot to the leading foot in a
skip change or slip step. I know many teachers use the word "kiss" but,
frankly, I have trouble with that. The class wants to giggle, and it lends
itself to just the sorts of musings you enjoyed. I'd rather enjoy those
musings outside of the classroom.

I'm probably going to catch hell for this one, but as for the authoritative
opinion of examiners - they are human and have their own idiosyncrasies. I
watched an examiner demonstrating skip change in a class (and, yes, I have it
on video). He lifted his leading foot two feet off the ground while hopping
on the supporting leg. I was flabbergasted and couldn't believe this was the
"lift" we were to emulate. Then again, the class was told to "widen the
set, widen the set". By the time we were done we were about 8 feet apart,
and then were chastised because some didn't make it fully across the set for
the half reel in the last 8 bars of "Follow Me Home".

Thanks for the quote "talking about dancing is like dancing about
architecture". I enjoy these discussions but my eyes glaze over when it
takes more than three lines to discuss a movement I make in the blink of an
eye.

Marjorie McLaughlin
RSCDS SD@aol.com
San Diego, CA

Authoritative opinions (was Airborne)

Message 8906 · Ken McFarland · 11 Sep 1997 21:24:26 · Top

Marjorie wrote:
>And Martin, I add my vote to the use of the word "displace" rather than
>"kick" for the transfer of weight from the back foot to the leading foot in a
>skip change or slip step. I know many teachers use the word "kiss" but,
>frankly, I have trouble with that. The class wants to giggle, and it lends
>itself to just the sorts of musings you enjoyed. I'd rather enjoy those
>musings outside of the classroom.

We agree on a lot of things, but on this I only partially agree with you. I
think it *is* important to bring humor to the classroom, and a few giggles
can be healthy, especially if the class is one of those tedious sessions
where, as you put it, "eye's glaze over". Yes, there are times when using
displace is better suited then "kiss", but the *occasional* use is not so
bad IMO. By the way, my teacher, Stewart Smith, used the phrase concurrently
with Mary Brandon and others in the early '70's, and that is where I first
learned it. I wonder if he got it from his teacher, Miss Allie Anderson?
Does anyone know if she used the phrase?

I don't know if humor was mentioned in the "what young dancers like" thread,
but when I was a younger dancer in my late teens and early twenties, I
enjoyed classes that included humor and a "fun loving" spirit that allowed
people to smile as much as they danced. If an occasional reference to a kiss
brought a few gigles to our lips, it was not such a bad thing. I think it's
a good thing for teachers to be creative in their phraseology, if the
meaning is clear and the phrase adds to the enjoyment of the class, and the
performance of technique, rather then the opposite. The old phrase about "a
spoonful of sugar make the medicine go down" comes to mind here....

Ken McFarland
Fairbanks Alaska
farlands@polarnet.com

Authoritative opinions (was Airborne)

Message 8922 · DMGilliam · 12 Sep 1997 06:42:06 · Top

In a message dated 97-09-11 05:13:20 EDT, Alex Tweedy wrote:

> So - isn't it time for a technological solution to our discussion ?
>
> There must be someone out there who has
> - good RSCDS video showing a "good" skip-change step
> (I foresee a good discussion about which ones show "good"
> steps)
> - a frame-grabber
> - ability to post images to a Web site where many of us could view
> them.
>
> If they could use technology to finally decide the question of
> airborne-ness for racehorses, we can surely do it for Scottish Dancers
> :-)

I think that Alex has a good idea here. I agree that it should be possible
to agree on good examples of videos of skip change and to see what the degree
of lift-off occurs in these good examples. I am curious to know the answer.
As with race horses, I think it may be difficult to know without stop-motion
photography. It certainly is impossible to be sure of what one's own feet
are doing without some sort of help. All this may not be very important to
dancing or teaching, but I'd like to know the answer.

Furthermore, I would still like to hear from any examiners that communicate
directly or indirectly with this forum, because it was precisely the issue of
preparing candidates for examinations that prompted my question in the first
place. I certainly did not intend to dismiss anyone's artististic opinion on
the subject.

Kind regards,

David Gilliam

Authoritative opinions (was Airborne)

Message 8910 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 11 Sep 1997 22:45:20 · Top

Marjorie writes:

>And Martin, I add my vote to the use of the word "displace" rather than
>"kick" for the transfer of weight from the back foot to the leading foot in a
>skip change or slip step. I know many teachers use the word "kiss" but,
>frankly, I have trouble with that. The class wants to giggle, and it lends
>itself to just the sorts of musings you enjoyed. I'd rather enjoy those
>musings outside of the classroom.

All right you guys. Now you have done it. I will never again be able to use
the word "kiss" to describe the close in third (or in first for slip step).
I now have this ludicrous image of dancers bending over to smooch the backs
of their ghillies....

Originally, I wanted to reply to Martin with the suggestion of "displace",
but I rejected it on the same grounds as Ellie's complaint that, to me, it
implied a transfer of energy/momentum from the closing foot to the leading
foot, much like in-line billiard balls. Regardless of the words, that
picture is totally inaccurate. The leading leg derives its momentum from
muscular control at the hip, not from a rear-end collision into the leading
foot by the trailing foot (ouch!).

This may sound like heresy, but the close is not a functional necessity for
the flow of the skip change. Rather, it is an artistic embellishment that
makes the step look and feel good. Many of our dancers are perfectly happy
doing a skip change without closing in third. It usually takes a lot of
encouragement to get the close to happen, so we are looking for magic words
(displace, touch, kiss, etc) that will convey the correct image for the
dancers.

I just saw Maghi King's note about the "replacement" idea. I think that is
a very good description if you allow for the fact that the dancer is moving
forward: The spot on the floor where the trailing foot "replaces" the
leading foot is beyond the spot where the leading foot took weight. As
Malcolm suggested, basic physics (or nature if you will) will have its way,
regardless of claims to the contrary.

The consequence of body movement on the placement of the feet as they take
weight is something that happens naturally to the dancer because of the
need to maintain balance. It is not a matter of choice or dictate. The
dancer must feel his/her support coming from directly below his/her center
of mass. Any attempt to make the dancer do otherwise will put the dancer at
risk (of slipping and falling). Gravity is a very effective teacher.

That doesn't mean that dancers naturally do the steps correctly! We get
into trouble for a lot of reasons, including: poor posture--pitching the
body away from vertical; poor timing--transferring weight too soon or too
late; poor control--the weight-bearing foot is not prepared to support the
body through the required action.

Sorry folks, I got a little carried away. But its all Marjorie's fault--she
won't kiss my ghillies (or her own for that matter).

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

Authoritative opinions (was Airborne)

Message 8912 · Martin.Sheffield · 12 Sep 1997 00:05:08 · Top

Alex wrote:

>And that raises the question of videos
>
>Anyone got recommendations for good videos (or ones to avoid) ?

A few years agone of our members brought back from St Andrews a video of
the new dances, and we were all keen to watch.

Alex: >If you like one - why ?

-- we liked seeing the patterns as filmed from directly overhead; very pretty.

>What is it good for
> - initial teaching,

-- well ...

> - learning in remote areas where no teacher is available

-- mm ...

> - teaching finer points of step technique and figures

-- no.

> - to make it obvious how much fun it can all be ?

-- a resounding unanimous NO !

Fun? the demonstrators had obviously never heard of the word. I have never
seen anything so cold and lifeless. Not a smile, not a wink. Mechanical
hand-giving; puppets would have done as well.

Attract new dancers with this?

-- NO !

So I have not made any attempt to acquire any other offical videos.

(Please don't interpet this as criticism of any of the dancers taking part
int hemaking olf the video; I'm sure they were merely doing what they had
been told to do by authoritative opinions !

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

Authoritative opinions (was Airborne)

Message 8931 · Bryan McAlister · 12 Sep 1997 19:18:03 · Top

In article <v03110702b03dcc73eb59@[192.0.0.6]>, Oberdan Otto
<ootto@tvt.com> writes
>Marjorie writes:
>
>>And Martin, I add my vote to the use of the word "displace" rather than
>>"kick" for the transfer of weight from the back foot to the leading foot in a
>>skip change or slip step. I know many teachers use the word "kiss" but,
>>frankly, I have trouble with that. The class wants to giggle, and it lends
>>itself to just the sorts of musings you enjoyed. I'd rather enjoy those
>>musings outside of the classroom.
>
>All right you guys. Now you have done it. I will never again be able to use
>the word "kiss" to describe the close in third (or in first for slip step).
>I now have this ludicrous image of dancers bending over to smooch the backs
>of their ghillies....
>
>
>Sorry folks, I got a little carried away. But its all Marjorie's fault--she
>won't kiss my ghillies (or her own for that matter).
>
>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
>
>Age and Dancing

Have you noticed how Babies can put their feet in their mouths with
ease.
At what age do Country Dancers lose the Art?
Is there a potential Injury problem?
Did Miss Milligan have point of view on it?
Do you keep your feet in the air or on the ground?
Have the RSCDS Executive discussed it?
Do Clog Dancers suffer deformity or Step Dancers lose their teeth?
Is there an exercise for it?
Is that why you like the taste of slip stop?
I'm sure I must have something better to do.. oh yes....

--
Bryan McAlister B. Arch RIBA ARIAS MaPS, Linlithgow,Scotland
Web page http://www.bryanmac.demon.co.uk
/\
___ / \
/ \ ____/____\
__IIIII_____IIIIII_________

Authoritative opinions (was Airborne)

Message 8932 · RSCDSSD · 12 Sep 1997 19:56:16 · Top

In a message dated 97-09-12 11:20:25 EDT, Bryan writes:

> Have you noticed how Babies can put their feet in their mouths with
> ease.
> At what age do Country Dancers lose the Art?
> Is there a potential Injury problem?
> Did Miss Milligan have point of view on it?
> Do you keep your feet in the air or on the ground?
> Have the RSCDS Executive discussed it?
> Do Clog Dancers suffer deformity or Step Dancers lose their teeth?
> Is there an exercise for it?
> Is that why you like the taste of slip stop?
> I'm sure I must have something better to do.. oh yes....
>

Thank you Bryan. A good dose of humor always helps to restore a degree of
normalcy. And despite how my aversion to the use of "kiss" was interpreted,
I really didn't mean to suggest that humor and fun should be absent in the
classroom or for that matter anywhere we dance. I am also fully aware that
the respondent knew me better than that.

Marjorie McLaughlin
RSCDS SD@aol.com
San Diego, CA

Airborne

Message 8888 · Courtney Cartwright · 11 Sep 1997 12:02:04 · Top

At 10:49 PM 9/10/97 -0400, David Gilliam wrote:
>I think that it is an exhilarating feeling to go airborne on the skip change
>of step, but I only do it when I'm feeling special exuberance and think that
>a brief abandonment of control is tolerable. I have heard "closing in
>mid-air" called a fault, and I certainly think that anything more than the
>slightest liftoff is too much.
>
>I would like to get an authoritative opinion on the subject. Could someone
>get an RSCDS Examiner to give us an opinion?
>

I can, but it's been a number of years since the observation was made (would
that I still had this problem).

My tutor for both my exams had a video camera and he taped us in all our
glory, going through our paces. This was excellent study material, as we
all were able
to see the faults and come up with corrections. My fault was that when
filled with exuberance I close in third position but both feet were in the
air - perhaps 4 - 5 inches in the air. More like a demi-cabriole without
the extention. I feel that the real issue boils down to degree of altitude
-- a slice of daylight will do fine for me.

Courtney Cartwright
Tucson, Arizona USA
ccartwri@primenet.com

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