strathspey Archive: Variable speed ?

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Variable speed ?

Message 9947 · Freeman/Pavey · 29 Dec 1997 15:35:10 · Top

Thank you for the information about variable speed machines.
What are your opinions as to their usefulness? Doesn't changing the
speed change the dancing especially if the music is slowed down alot?
Our teacher does not use a variable speed machine, we hear that they are
used extensively at lessons, is this common? Are they used at socials
too?
Thanks,
Susan Freeman, Maberly.
--
Eastern Ontario Scottish Country Dance Calendar
http://www.rideau.net/~tay/

Variable speed ?

Message 9959 · Keith Grant · 31 Dec 1997 19:42:47 · Top

------------------------
From: Freeman & Pavey <tay@rideau.net>
Subject: Variable speed ?
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 1997 09:38:12 -0500
To: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de

> What are your opinions as to their usefulness? Doesn't changing the
> speed change the dancing especially if the music is slowed down alot?

Susan's question brings to mind the essential observation made by Betty
Edwards in her book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". Edward's
revalation was that people err in drawing because they attempt to draw
something as a symbol rather than slowing down to process the details of the
positive and negative shapes before there eyes.

In a similar manner, when we perform a movement up to speed, we draw upon
our already established vocabularly of neuromuscular patterns. When we slow
down our movements below their normal speed, we can begin to become aware of
of the details or rough spots we normally speed through without awareness.
We can then start to consciously change our movements towards the desired
performance. Because the movements are performed within a field of gravity
that doesn't change to accomadate our desires, the character of the movement
also changes. Yet, when we speed back up, a new kinesthetic pattern is in
place.

A special case of such slow-down is no conscious movement at all. Dance
facilitators such as Lulu Sweigard ("Human Movement Potential -- It's
Ideokinetic Facilitation"), Irene Dowd ("Taking Roots to Fly"), and Eric
Franklin ("Dynamic Alignment through Imagery", "Dance Imagery for Technique
and Performance") use mental imagery to avoid the habitual patterns
activated by consciously activated movements while providing sufficient
unconscious neuromuscular activation to establish new, more optimum,
movement patterns.

Sometimes the fastest way to get up to speed is by slowing down.

...Keith

+--------------------------------------+-----------------------------------+
I Keith Eric Grant I We must remember that everything I
I <keg@strathspey.llnl.gov> I is ordinary and extraordinary. It I
I--------------------------------------I is our minds that either open or I
I Over the hills, but not too far away I close. Details are not good or I
I from the San Francisco East Bay I bad. They are details. -- Natalie I
I I Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones I
+--------------------------------------+-----------------------------------+

Variable speed ?

Message 9974 · Ron Mackey · 2 Jan 1998 23:30:50 · Top

> Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 20:53:02 -0800
> From: Keith Eric Grant <keg@strathspey.llnl.gov>
> Subject: Re: Variable speed ?
> Reply-to: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
>

> Sometimes the fastest way to get up to speed is by slowing down.
>
> ...Keith
>
Hi, This seems similar to what my golf coach has been trying to drum
into my thick head, -'Slow down the swing and hit it further!'

Cheers
Ron Mackey London UK
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Variable speed ?

Message 10006 · Martin.Sheffield · 4 Jan 1998 16:51:36 · Top

>... about variable speed machines.
>What are your opinions as to their usefulness? Doesn't changing the
>speed change the dancing especially if the music is slowed down alot?

While in GB, I went to a dance with recorded music. The MC was very proud
of a newly acquired variable speed machine.

It was a *very* disappointing evening.

Most of the dances were slowed down too much for comfort (for my comfort,
anyway -- I find sloooow paddy bahs very tiring). I was not alone in
feeling this way, and, when an encore was announced, I asked if we could do
it just a littel faster.
"No, because the beginners wouldn't be able to do it."

Mmm !

I would have thought you have to be a VERY good dancer to manage slow stepwork.
And that evening, the footwork was very very poor. Cause and effect?

I find Keith remarks over optimistic:
>When we slow
>down our movements below their normal speed, we can begin to become aware of
>of the details (...)
>We can then start to consciously change our movements towards the desired
>performance. (...)
>Yet, when we speed back up, a new kinesthetic pattern is in place.

This may well be right for professional or very serious dancers, but for
most of the social dancing world, the standard tends to be no better than
whatever provides enjoyment. I don't think many people can carry over the
footwork they do in exercises (slow or not) into the figures and patterns
of a dance. The cooperative work involved in a figure could even be seen as
antithetical to the individual character of footwork, and striking a
balance is not easy. If one has to be sacrificed to the other, footwrk will
be the first to go, thanks to the very nature of social dancing.

I mentioned above a disappointing evening -- certainly not because it was
unfriendly, not because I didn't like the dances, but mainly because we
couldn't get airborne; good lively steps had to be sacrificed in the
interests of teamwork and harmony. It was more important to be within reach
of a partner who was not quite where he should have been, than to be in the
right place and hope the partner would get there too. It wouldn't have
improved anyone's evening, if I had been showing off my footwork and
putting myself out of sync with my various partners and corners.

As with the discussion about class levels, it is hard to reconcile theory
and reality.
Even SCD takes place in the real world of human strengths and weaknesses.

To come back to the original question:
I would certainly like to have a variable speed CD player in order be able
to use certain recordings such as Neil Barron's 'Duchess Tree' that sounds
nice, but goes on for over 9 minutes ! -- far too slow to dance to.
Or to slow down some of G Geddes' wild jigs and reels -- I haven't been
able to use his 'Let's meet again' record very much.

Martin,
Grenoble, France.
------------------ http://perso.wanadoo.fr/scots.in.france
This web site has been revised:
...in.france/scd.htm -- Scottish Country Dance items,
...in.france/cycle.htm -- cycling, and urban transport items (mainly links),
...in.france/dances.htm -- a sampler of new dances,
...in.france/books.htm -- list of SCD booklets,
...in.france/CDlist.htm -- a selection of SCD recordings,
...in.france/calendar.htm -- SCD events in France,
...in.france/groups.htm -- SCD clubs in France.

Variable speed & dances /dancing

Message 10057 · Ron Mackey · 5 Jan 1998 23:04:55 · Top

> Date: Sun, 4 Jan 1998 15:50:50 +0100
> From: martin.sheffield@wanadoo.fr (M Sheffield)
> Subject: Re: Variable speed ?

Hi,
Martin wrote:-

> Most of the dances were slowed down too much for comfort (for my comfort,
> anyway -- I find sloooow paddy bahs very tiring).

> I would have thought you have to be a VERY good dancer to manage slow stepwork.

A related thread is do you teach Dances or Dancing.
What are teachers trying to do?

I think that the question of 'fast' or 'slow' is a very individual
one. There are some dance recordings of certain tunes which are
very difficult to get right because the way they are recorded means
that if you don't slow them down enough they are too fast but just a
fraction slower and one is falling over with fatigue.
When I took over the main class that I teach they danced in a small
room with four sets crammed in, were used to dancing at a very brisk
speed and their footwork was virtually non-existant.
The reason was they didn't have time to do the steps properly or
travel the required distance in the time the music gave them. In fact
some said they had lost the technique they once had.
I started using my Karaoke and set about slowing down the tempo bit
by bit and introducing some basic step practise for a while until
they were dancing more precisely. Over a couple of years they now
dance very nicely without being overly academic about it, have
widened their sets to such an extent that they now dance in a large
hall without feeling overwhelmed and have told me they wouldn't go
back to the old way at any price.
The 'average' age of the class must be about 55 and
none of them complain of being tired because they dance too slowly.
Incidentally, I try to teach both dancing and dances. I have said
here before that I try to introduce one new dance a week, whether it
is ever repeated or not, as practise in learning dances.
I cannot envisage teaching the one without the other or
teach at any extreme of speed for to my mind to enjoy dancing (or
anything else) one must be physically comfortable.
-Although I sometimes use one of my 78rpm records - say The Duke
and Duchess of Edinburgh - just to demonstrate what fast is!

Cheers Ron :)

Ron Mackey London UK
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