strathspey Archive: Web notes for obscure dances

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Web notes for obscure dances

Message 9718 · Martin.Sheffield · 25 Nov 1997 21:54:24 · Top

Some time ago, Eric Ferguson wrote:

>Would it be possible for one of us
>to create a website to conserve information
[about interpretation of dance instructions and other useful notes]?
>It would need a page for each dance discussed, on which any
>queries and the replies could be collected.
(...)
> a spot to exchange information.
(...)
> advice on details of phrasing or variations
> from the published texts (whether heresy or no). If we share this
> information we will all profit.

and Anselm replied:

>I think this is a good idea in general. (...)
>I would be happy to host such a collection of notes on the Strathspey
>server
(...)
> Watch this space.

Did this idea get any further?

I thought about it again after sending my interpretation of "Munro Rant"
recently.

Taking this as an example, if writing up such an interpretation could
encourage others to try a dance whose original description they found
discouraging, then having such notes readily available could be a way of
giving new life to neglected dances.

The best way to learn a dance is to take part when someone knowledgeable is
teaching, but some of us would miss a lot of interesting dances, if we had
to wait for that to happen.

Written decsriptions can be dry and dull and not give the feeling of a
dance at all.
I remember reading through "Earl of Mansefield", thinking it an odd
compilation that couldn't make up its mind whether it was a 2-couple, a
3-couple, or a 4-couple dance, and giving it ,no further thought. Not until
last summer did I learn it in class and discover that it fitted together
quite nicely in a way that was not at all apparent from the written
description.
Perhaps, if I had come across web notes from someone that knew the dance
and mentioned that the figures flowed one into another in a satsifying
manner, I might have worked on it and added the dance to my repertoire a
little earlier.
I don't know; just an example.

Another example: some months ago, I wrote that my dancers liked "Mrs
Stewart Linnell" on the list, and immediately got enquiries for info about
the dance. Presumably (can't confirm it) my brief but enthusiastic mention
was enough for the dance to tried where it would not have been otherwise.

In the last few days, several people have written about "Mrs Milne of
Kinneff". I doubt whether the discussion of the pronunciation of the said
lady's name will incite anyone to try the dance. So I should like to add
that I found it a very satisfying flowing dance. Interesting but easy to
memorize.

So ... come on then, get to the point ! ... I think it would be intersting
and useful to have your interpretations and appreciations of the dances you
learn, teach or discover.
eg: This has become one of our favorite dances because each dancer gets to
shake hands with every other member of the set.
or: The transition from figure one to figure two is made smoother if the
man turns his partner left hand rather than right.
or: We found "Ladies of Dingwall" turned out better when we alternated
crossing over by left and right shoulders, rather than R sh each time.

In fact, wording would have to be more detailed than this, which is just to
give an idea of the kind of comments I would like to see.

Will there be room for contributions on the server's hard disc, Anselm?

Martin in Grenoble.
------------------ http://perso.wanadoo.fr/scots.in.france/
latest up-date: 23 Nov 97 (minor changes)

Web notes for obscure dances

Message 9720 · Malcolm and Helen Brown · 25 Nov 1997 22:36:12 · Top

Martin Sheffield wrote

>
> I thought about it again after sending my interpretation of "Munro Rant"
> recently.
>
> Taking this as an example, if writing up such an interpretation could
> encourage others to try a dance whose original description they found
> discouraging, then having such notes readily available could be a way of
> giving new life to neglected dances.

> So ... come on then, get to the point ! ... I think it would be intersting
> and useful to have your interpretations and appreciations of the dances you
> learn, teach or discover.
> eg: This has become one of our favorite dances because each dancer gets to
> shake hands with every other member of the set.
> or: The transition from figure one to figure two is made smoother if the
> man turns his partner left hand rather than right.
> or: We found "Ladies of Dingwall" turned out better when we alternated
> crossing over by left and right shoulders, rather than R sh each time.

I would feel most upset if a dance that I had devised was changed because
someone felt that it could be improved in the ways suggested. Most dances
are written and published after a great deal of thought and correction after
being danced through. If someone wants a dance to be right shoulders
throughout for a particular reason and they publish it with this
instruction, who are we to change it just because we find it a problem?

Helen Brown, York UK

--
_ _
|_|_ |_| Malcolm & Helen Brown - m.brown@netcomuk.co.uk (NETCOM Internet Dial-Up)
_ |_|_
|_| _|_| Connecting via NETCOM Internet Ltd
|_|

Web notes for obscure dances

Message 9721 · Mike Briggs · 26 Nov 1997 00:29:51 · Top

Helen Brown wrote:
"Most dances are written and published after a great deal of thought and
correction after being danced through. If someone wants a dance to be
right shoulders throughout for a particular reason and they publish it
with this instruction, who are we to change it just because we find it a
problem?"

Who are we? We are the dancers. It may well be true of recently
devised dances that there is some moral imperative to dance them exactly
as written, but this is certainly not true of many of the early RSCDS
dances derived from 18th and 19th century sources. English country
dancers have long known that the old dance books present multiple
problems of interpretation. The RSCDS interpretations from the 1920s,
1930s and 1940s are not necessarily the gospel truth (see, for instance,
the recent discussion on this server about Red House).

Mike Briggs

> Helen Brown, York UK
>
> --
> _ _
> |_|_ |_| Malcolm & Helen Brown - m.brown@netcomuk.co.uk (NETCOM Internet Dial-Up)
> _ |_|_
> |_| _|_| Connecting via NETCOM Internet Ltd
> |_|

--
*************************************************
Norma and Mike Briggs 1.608.2571600 (voice)
Briggs Law Office 1.608.2571611 (fax)
1914 Monroe St
Madison WI 53711-2057 USA brigglaw@execpc.com
-------------------------------------------------
A N E I G H B O R H O O D L A W O F F I C E
*************************************************

Web notes for obscure dances

Message 9722 · ferguson · 26 Nov 1997 00:47:08 · Top

Helen Brown <m.brown@netcomuk.co.uk> wrote:
> Date sent: Tue, 25 Nov 97 21:34:01 GMT
> Subject: Re: Web notes for obscure dances
> ....
> I would feel most upset if a dance that I had devised was changed
> because someone felt that it could be improved in the ways suggested.
> Most dances are written and published after a great deal of thought and
> correction after being danced through. If someone wants a dance to be
> right shoulders throughout for a particular reason and they publish it
> with this instruction, who are we to change it just because we find it a
> problem?

Many devisers will agree. That does not change the fact that often dances
ARE changed (vide: the Right Shoulder passing in Mairi's Wedding, in
violation of an explicit L.Sh prescribed by the deviser [as discussed on
this list last month]). Sometimes this is intentional, sometimes just a
"local variation" which can even have arisen by mistake. Sometimes the
changes are more subtle (link the two figures directly, or go to sidelines
first?), or the instructions are simply not clear (remember all the Notes
for Dancers in the Manual, and often more notes published elsewhere [eg.
by TAC]).

Just having a website where one can find such variations, opinions, and
discussions on each dance (including the deviser's opinion if he/she
wishes) will not solve differences of opinion or disagreements. It will,
however, give every teacher or dancer who seeks advice on points of
uncertainty much broader access to opinions of others, and so help him/her
to make good decisions. Teachers might also like to point out or comment
on "teaching points" relevant to that dance. And as Martin Sheffield says,
one could also contribute comments on how the dance is experienced.
Information on the origin / background of the dance could also be
interesting.

Eric

|Eric T. Ferguson, van Dormaalstraat 15, 5624 KH EINDHOVEN, Netherlands|
|e-mail: e.ferguson@antenna.nl. phone:+31-40-2432878; fax:+31-40-2467036|

Web notes for obscure dances

Message 9729 · Martin.Sheffield · 26 Nov 1997 19:10:10 · Top

Thank you, Mike, for pointing out that I was indeed referring to the
interpretation of *obscure* dances, not ones with clearly written
indstructions, but dances that may become neglected because we are all so
afraid of doing the "wrong" thing.

Are not a large number of RSCDS-published dances the interpretations of
the publications committees, the meaning of old manuscripts being even more
obscure than some more recent descriptions? And did not these same
committees not adapt dances that they found in the dusty corners of
someone's attic? We could say that we are merely following an old tradition
when we "adapt" a dance to our own tastes.

But this is not exactly what I was talking about in my previous message.

I was saying that I thought it could be interesting and useful to have a
repository of comments and suggestions about the strong or weak points of a
dance, and helpful hints about ways to perform dances where doubts may
arise about the exact meaning of written instructions.

My use of "Munro Rant" as an example was not to say "This is the best and
only way to do the dance." It was just an example. Take it to mean: "If you
have done dance XYZ and didn't like it much, you could try it another
way."
Or simply "Have you tried dance ZYX? It's a nice one."
A valid suggesion both for old forgotten dances and for new and
little-known ones.

Mind you, Helen was quite right in assuming that I am the opinionated sort
of person who thinks he is the sole possessor of the one Truth. I do indeed
think there are a whole lot of dances that could be improved, but that was
not my point.

I promise, if ever the web notes page comes into existence, I will not use
it to become the 21st centrury's Miss M.
Rather, I am very keen to know other people's opinions and suggestions, and
will consult far more than I will write.

But will there ever be a page to consult?

Martin in Grenoble.
------------------ http://perso.wanadoo.fr/scots.in.france
latest up-date: 23 Nov 97 (minor changes)

Web notes for obscure dances

Message 9732 · Anselm Lingnau · 27 Nov 1997 09:18:48 · Top

martin.sheffield@wanadoo.fr (M Sheffield) writes:

> But will there ever be a page to consult?

There is nothing in principle that prevents this. I have a couple of
ideas how this could work; what I don't have right now is the spare time
in which to implement and test the code.

Anselm
--
Anselm Lingnau ......................... lingnau@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
Technology is a gift of God. After the gift of life it is perhaps the greatest
of God's gifts. It is the mother of civilizations, of arts and of sciences.
--- Freeman Dyson, *Infinite in All Directions*

Web notes for obscure dances

Message 9733 · Murray Wilson · 27 Nov 1997 19:13:30 · Top

At 18:07 26/11/97 +0100, you wrote:
>
>Thank you, Mike, for pointing out that I was indeed referring to the
>interpretation of *obscure* dances, not ones with clearly written
>indstructions, but dances that may become neglected because we are all so
>afraid of doing the "wrong" thing.
>
>Are not a large number of RSCDS-published dances the interpretations of
>the publications committees, the meaning of old manuscripts being even more
>obscure than some more recent descriptions? And did not these same
>committees not adapt dances that they found in the dusty corners of
>someone's attic? We could say that we are merely following an old tradition
>when we "adapt" a dance to our own tastes.
>
Well said Martin,I believe this point is frequently overlooked,with the
pedantic attitude of some of the more mature teachers.You iconoclast,you.
Murray: murky@ix.net.nz>
>

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