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Regarding Dance Technique and Etiquette

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  • ...

    Thomas G. Mungall, III June 9, 2006, 4:27 p.m. (Message 45482)

    Regarding dance technique and etiquette -- I attend both Scottish Country
    dance classes and vintage dance classes and I have been presented with a
    problem...what to do when people want to turn using the so called "thumb
    hold". I was always taught that this turn is incorrect and in most Scottish
    classes people use the correct handshake hold for turns. However in the
    vintage classes (which dance a pretty good number of Scottish Country
    dances) have what I call an American influence and while not all use the
    thumb hold, a good many do. My arguement is it can cause injury. Well that
    was what I was always told. My wife says that I should do in Rome as the
    Romans. My arguement is that they are wrong and I will dance correctly in
    order to avoid injury and I wish to avoid "bad habits" carrying over into
    Scottish dancing. I am however at a loss to explain what sorts of injury the
    thumb hold can cause. Can someone please throw some light on this practice.
    Any suggestions on how to approach this issue as not to cause offense?
    
    Another irritant is the propensity of the vintage class to want to dance the
    "Postie's Jig" using the Tulloch turn rather than the usual turns by the
    right and left giving the handshake hold.
    
    Thoughts? Suggestions?
    
    Yours aye,
    
    Tom Mungall
  • ...

    Martin June 9, 2006, 4:50 p.m. (Message 45483, in reply to message 45482)

    Thomas G. Mungall, III wrote:
    > ... to turn using the so called "thumb hold". 
    
    What can that be?
    
    The Bretons hold on to each other by linking little fingers while they 
    dance.
    That's uncomfortable enough already!
    
    Martin
    at the other end of France.
  • ...

    Thomas G. Mungall, III June 9, 2006, 5:46 p.m. (Message 45485, in reply to message 45483)

    Martin,
    
    This is where when couples are turning, the hands are offered vertically,
    palms to palms and the thumbs linked and elbows pointing down.
    
    Tom
  • ...

    Ian Brockbank June 9, 2006, 5:56 p.m. (Message 45487, in reply to message 45485)

    HI Tom,
    
    > This is where when couples are turning, the hands are offered vertically,
    > palms to palms and the thumbs linked and elbows pointing down.
    
    Yes, that sounds exactly what I saw from other dancing traditions.  If
    you're
    not doing SCD, you can't expect SCD norms.
    
    Cheers,
    
    Ian Brockbank
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    xxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    http://www.scottishdance.net/
  • ...

    Martin June 9, 2006, 7:43 p.m. (Message 45492, in reply to message 45485)

    Thomas G. Mungall, III wrote:
    > 
    > This is where when couples are turning, the hands are offered 
    > vertically, palms to palms and the thumbs linked and elbows pointing 
    > down.
    
    The hand position, sounds like what every did on Irish dance (40 years
    ago! don't know what they do now), and I always found it convenient and
    comfortable. I never encountered any awkwardness concerning the thumbs,
    in fact I still can't quite see how thumbs can be linked. It was palm
    to palm, each person looking at the back of the other person's hand, and
    felt firm and comfortable.
    
    The same grip is commonly used among French traditional dancers, and 
    although I
    insist on handshake hold on country dancing, I still like the
    palm-to-palm style in celidh dancing, as it is firm for a
    good fast turn than tha handshake hold.
    If this were not true, why do (some) SCDers turn their orthodox
    handshake into a kind of knot, twisting their wrists in order to get a
    firm grip in 2-bar turns?
    That is something I am not at all keen on.
    
    Martin
  • ...

    Jan E Rudge June 12, 2006, 4:56 p.m. (Message 45526, in reply to message 45492)

    Martin wrote:
    < why do (some) SCDers turn their orthodox handshake into a kind
    of knot, twisting their wrists in order to get a firm grip in
    2-bar turns? That is something I am not at all keen on. >
    
    Actually I was taught to turn that way some 40 years ago (a children's
    class with an RSCDS teacher).  We used to practice the different
    holds by doing slower turns and faster turns so that at any time we
    could take either hold, or change from one hold to the other, smoothly
    and easily.
    
    It's only recently I've realised that the RSCDS don't seems to advocate
    the closer hold any more...  When did this change slip in?
    
    Regards,
    
    Jan
    
    Beaconsfield, UK
    RSCDS London Branch
  • ...

    Gary Lindsey June 9, 2006, 9:44 p.m. (Message 45494, in reply to message 45485)

    Just think of the grip used in arm wrestling.  One slip and you can very
    easily end up with a dislocated or broken thumb.
    
    
    Gary Lindsey
    Flying Ghillies SCD
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    www.rscdscincinnati.org
  • ...

    Thomas G. Mungall, III June 9, 2006, 10:17 p.m. (Message 45497, in reply to message 45494)

    Regarding the thumb hold for turning, I am wondering if anyone has witnessed
    or knows of someone who utilized this hold and got their thumbs injured?
    
    Tom Mungall
    Baton Rouge, La, USA
  • ...

    Jim Healy June 10, 2006, 11:14 p.m. (Message 45504, in reply to message 45497)

    Greetings!
    
    Tom Mungall asks:
    >Regarding the thumb hold for turning, I am wondering if anyone has
    >witnessed or knows of someone who utilized this hold and got their
    >thumbs injured?
    Yes, and that's the safety problem with it. If the hold is taken properly 
    there is little risk of the hand slipping and it is perfectly adequate to 
    hold a partner who has lost his/her footing. The problem comes in taking the 
    hold, when in order to take it properly when dancing at a reasonable jig or 
    reel speed, you either have to slap the hands together (inelegant, at best) 
    or you risk catching your thumb on a finger or the other thumb with a fair 
    risk of a 'stave' (whatever that is in other versions of English) or, in the 
    case I refrerred to at the beginning, a broken thumb.
    
    When I was dancing in Scotland outside the RSCDS in my youth, however, it 
    was probably the third most common hold after linked arms, followed by the 
    'cleek' as mentioned by Robin Lambie. The 'handshake' hold was only used by 
    what seemed then to be the overly genteel.
    
    Jim Healy
    Perth and Monaco
  • ...

    Pia Walker June 11, 2006, 10:43 p.m. (Message 45509, in reply to message 45504)

    I think Jim it all comes down to experience - all ways of dancing are safe
    for the initiated.
    
    I agree that the thumb hold is safe at slower pace.
    
    I would advocate that all ways of turning are taught, rather than
    experienced, and I would argue that most ways are turning are ignored by
    dance instructors.
    
    How often do you encounter that 'turning ' is a self taught 'formation'
    instead of a movement which has to be deciphered?  I would say that
    'turning' in many dance styles are a most important point which can 'make' a
    dance, rather than a way of getting to a point.
    
    Pia
  • ...

    Martin June 12, 2006, 9:05 a.m. (Message 45520, in reply to message 45494)

    Gary Lindsey wrote:
    > Just think of the grip used in arm wrestling.  
    
    I understand now.
    Something quite different from the hald hold we used to use.
    I did not realize that dancers  could turn into wrestlers.
    
    Martin
  • ...

    John Chambers June 9, 2006, 11:57 p.m. (Message 45499, in reply to message 45485)

    Martin wrote:
    |
    | The same grip is commonly used among French traditional dancers, and
    | although I
    | insist on handshake hold on country dancing, I still like the
    | palm-to-palm style in celidh dancing, as it is firm for a
    | good fast turn than tha handshake hold.
    | If this were not true, why do (some) SCDers turn their orthodox
    | handshake into a kind of knot, twisting their wrists in order to get a
    | firm grip in 2-bar turns?
    | That is something I am not at all keen on.
    
    An explanation I've heard from some SCD teachers, usually along  with
    a  demo,  is that the "handshake" hold is the most versatile.  If you
    have fingers in contact, and your arms straight, you can  do  a  very
    slow,  wide  turn  that takes several bars.  Or, by moving closer and
    wrapping your wrists around the others', you can do  a  fast,  flying
    turn.  And you can adjust to any speed in between without a change of
    grip, just changing how much your arms twine around each other.
    
    Maybe this is why the grip developed.  Or maybe the explanation  came
    after  the fact, as people discovered this versatility of a grip that
    was originally done for some other reason (or no reason at all).
    
    OTOH, there's something to be said for  adopting  whatever  grip  the
    rest of the dancers are using.
    
    
    --
       _,
       O   John Chambers
     <:#/> <xx@xxxxxxxx.xxx.xxx>
       +   <xxxxxx@xxxxx.xxx>
      /#\  in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA, Earth
      | |
      ' `
  • ...

    Sophie Rickebusch June 9, 2006, 5:42 p.m. (Message 45484, in reply to message 45482)

    I would tend to agree with you and not let pass something which is potentially
    dangerous. Most of the dancers in my class came to SCD through american
    barn-dancing or international folk dancing and they do have a tendency to use the
    thumb hold. Most of them quickly get the point when I explain why I do not want
    to see that in the SCD class. It may not be of much consequence in sedate,
    march-type dances, but in reels or jigs, where there is a risk that someone might
    slip while doing a fast turn, it's a different matter. If you take shake-hand
    hold and the other person stops supporting their own hand, you find yourself
    holding it up by the hand itself, which is fairly solid. Do the same with a thumb
    hold and you're left holding their thumb... just imagine what that would give if
    they slipped at full speed and you tried to hold them back! The other option
    being of course to drop hands if they slip, on the assumption that the fall will
    be less damaging than ripping out their thumb, but that wouldn't be very
    gentlemanly and my guess is they wouldn't thank you for it!
    
    Maybe a diplomatic way to approach this could be that you wouldn't like to risk
    causing THEM an injury - then demonstrate the point as explained above.
    
    Can't comment on the Postie's jig issue, as I've never come across people doing
    it with Tulloch turns.
    
    Cheers,
    Sophie 
    
    Sophie Rickebusch
    CH - Wettswil a. A.
    
    On Ven Juin 9 9:27 , 'Thomas G. Mungall, III' sent:
    
        Regarding dance technique and etiquette -- I attend both Scottish Country
        dance classes and vintage dance classes and I have been presented with a
        problem...what to do when people want to turn using the so called "thumb
        hold". I was always taught that this turn is incorrect and in most Scottish
        classes people use the correct handshake hold for turns. However in the
        vintage classes (which dance a pretty good number of Scottish Country
        dances) have what I call an American influence and while not all use the
        thumb hold, a good many do. My arguement is it can cause injury. Well that
        was what I was always told. My wife says that I should do in Rome as the
        Romans. My arguement is that they are wrong and I will dance correctly in
        order to avoid injury and I wish to avoid "bad habits" carrying over into
        Scottish dancing. I am however at a loss to explain what sorts of injury the
        thumb hold can cause. Can someone please throw some light on this practice.
        Any suggestions on how to approach this issue as not to cause offense?
    
        Another irritant is the propensity of the vintage class to want to dance the
        "Postie's Jig" using the Tulloch turn rather than the usual turns by the
        right and left giving the handshake hold.
    
        Thoughts? Suggestions?
    
        Yours aye,
    
        Tom Mungall
  • ...

    Thomas G. Mungall, III June 9, 2006, 5:59 p.m. (Message 45488, in reply to message 45484)

    Sophie, this is an excellent explanation. I have been doing some more
    research since I posted and noted that it is in particularly American Contra
    and Australian Bush dance tradition that will utilize the thumb turn while
    both English and Scottish Country traditions utilize the hand shake hold. I
    think since our vintage class attempts dances from other traditions such as
    Scottish, English and French, they should utilize the correct traditions
    that originate from those dance styles. I think your point is well taken
    regarding the use of a thumb hold in a march type of dance, such as the
    "Lancer's Quadrille", as being inconsequential but in reels and jigs it is a
    matter of safety.
    
    Tom
  • ...

    Ian Brockbank June 9, 2006, 5:52 p.m. (Message 45486, in reply to message 45482)

    Hi Tom,
    
    > Regarding dance technique and etiquette -- I attend both Scottish Country
    > dance classes and vintage dance classes and I have been presented with a
    > problem...what to do when people want to turn using the so called "thumb
    > hold". I was always taught that this turn is incorrect and in most
    Scottish
    > classes people use the correct handshake hold for turns. 
    > However in thevintage classes (which dance a pretty good number of
    Scottish Country
    > dances) have what I call an American influence and while not all use the
    > thumb hold, a good many do.
    
    Is the handshake grasp correct in this instance?  When you say "vintage"
    class,
    what does that mean?  I have noticed when dancing at the Inter-Varsity Folk
    Dance
    Festival (of IVFDF to its friends) that dancers from some traditions give
    hands
    for turns and wheels at about eye level giving an effect like a maypole.  
    Conversely, the SCD dancers were the only ones to give hands at shoulder
    height
    in circles - most others had straight arms pointing down with the two arms
    of the adjacent dancers making a 'V' shape.  Now clearly taken in an SCD
    context
    both of these are not the expected grasp, but equally clearly it's what they
    have been taught in their dance style.  I'm afraid I'm inclined to agree
    with
    your wife here - do what the teacher asks or (if there isn't a teacher)
    what's common, and don't assume that SCD convention is correct for another
    dance
    form.
    
    > Another irritant is the propensity of the vintage class to want to dance
    the
    > "Postie's Jig" using the Tulloch turn rather than the usual turns by the
    > right and left giving the handshake hold.
    
    That's common enough among SCDers around here!  Some dancers seem to see it
    as a challenge for the number of spins they can do in the available time.
    If they're not endangering the set (too much), what does it matter?
    
    > Thoughts? Suggestions?
    
    Relax?  We've got enough of an image as boring and stuffy as it is
    (certainly
    here in Scotland).
    
    Cheers,
    
    Ian Brockbank
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    xxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    http://www.scottishdance.net/
  • ...

    Thomas G. Mungall, III June 9, 2006, 6:19 p.m. (Message 45489, in reply to message 45486)

    Ian,
    
    Actually the class does all sorts of dance traditions (American, French,
    English, Irish and Scottish) from the late 18th through the 19th Centuries.
    In addition to regularly scheduled period style balls, the group also
    performs at area antebellum homes, living history events and nursing homes.
    
    The actual dance in question was a Scottish Country Dance. Indeed, I have
    also witnessed different dance traditions where hands are given at different
    heights. I believe the English tradition of the early 19th Century was to
    use a low hand hold. My main concern was the safety issue.
    
    I do get your point about the teacher and the traditions of the group, etc.
    which is a very valid point. That was why I was wondering how to discuss the
    safety issue with them.
    
    I find it interesting that the Tulloch turn variation in Posties is common
    with SCDers in Scotland!
    
    Cheers aye!
    Tom
  • ...

    Pia Walker June 9, 2006, 7:22 p.m. (Message 45490, in reply to message 45489)

    Why not hold a 'turning survival class' - where various styles and
    techniques in turns are taught and also how best to survive them.
    
    This way styles, techniques and safety can be incorporated for all kinds of
    dances and everyone will have become a little more wise.
    
    Pia
  • ...

    Ron Mackey June 10, 2006, 12:36 a.m. (Message 45501, in reply to message 45489)

    Well, I have seen people get a slight sprain on occasion 
    when one slips on a polished floor.  No matter how ready one is for 
    such an event the very act of slipping causes the grip to tense up.
    	I have also seen a thumb dfislocated in the worst case. 
    	To mitigate all this, though, it all took place long ago when 
    the speed of the music was half as fast again then what is common 
    today.  The dislocation was caused when dancing on an ex-lawn 
    which had overgrown and had been cut the week before in very 
    good (hot, dry) weather.  The result was like dancing on ice!
    
    	One solution, if you are nervous about damage, is to cup the 
    other dancers elbow with your other hand.(i.e when turning right 
    hands, cup your left hand under the other dancers right elbow)  It is 
    quite comfortable,  produces a good close turn and helps prevent 
    any likely slips.  That used to be common practise on slippery floors 
    in the past in this area.
  • ...

    Bryan McAlister June 12, 2006, 12:46 p.m. (Message 45524, in reply to message 45489)

    In message <002801c68be0$894c6c20$xxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "Thomas G. 
    Mungall, III" <xxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx> writes
    >I find it interesting that the Tulloch turn variation in Posties is 
    >common with SCDers in Scotland!
    
    Don't think I've seen a Tulloch turn in Postie's, double turns are 
    relatively common though.
    -- 
    Bryan McAlister
  • ...

    Andrew C Aitchison June 9, 2006, 7:36 p.m. (Message 45491, in reply to message 45482)

    On Fri, 9 Jun 2006, Thomas G. Mungall, III wrote:
    
    > Regarding dance technique and etiquette -- I attend both Scottish Country
    > dance classes and vintage dance classes and I have been presented with a
    > problem...what to do when people want to turn using the so called "thumb
    > hold". I was always taught that this turn is incorrect and in most Scottish
    > classes people use the correct handshake hold for turns. However in the
    > vintage classes (which dance a pretty good number of Scottish Country
    > dances) have what I call an American influence and while not all use the
    > thumb hold, a good many do. My arguement is it can cause injury.
    
    My understanding is that the thumb hold is very common in some 
    non-RCSDS Scottish Dancing Circles, to the point where it is expected.
    It isn't dangerous, even at speed, *provided that it is done right
    and every one uses it*, so *not* using it may be frowned upon and
    considered dangerous.
  • ...

    Mike Mudrey June 9, 2006, 7:38 p.m. (Message 45493, in reply to message 45491)

    At 6/9/2006  12:36 PM, you wrote:
    >On Fri, 9 Jun 2006, Thomas G. Mungall, III wrote:
    >
    > > Regarding dance technique and etiquette -- I attend both Scottish Country
    > > dance classes and vintage dance classes and I have been presented with a
    > > problem...what to do when people want to turn using the so called "thumb
    > > hold". I was always taught that this turn is incorrect and in most Scottish
    > > classes people use the correct handshake hold for turns. However in the
    > > vintage classes (which dance a pretty good number of Scottish Country
    > > dances) have what I call an American influence and while not all use the
    > > thumb hold, a good many do. My arguement is it can cause injury.
    
    Why not have the leader of the group reemphasize the appropriate 
    period style for the turn?
  • ...

    Robert Lambie June 9, 2006, 10:12 p.m. (Message 45496, in reply to message 45493)

    I am wondering which period SCD is to be put into, in the email by 
    M.G.Mudrey? It is 20th century in style, though earlier in its origins.
    The turn described by Martin (I think) is called a cleekit or a Scotch turn, 
    and is the one that Jean Milligan taught, though it seems to have been 
    Anglified by the RSCDS in later years.
  • ...

    Martin June 12, 2006, 9:12 a.m. (Message 45521, in reply to message 45496)

    Robert Lambie wrote:
    
    > The turn  is called a cleekit or a Scotch turn, 
    
    Now I have to ask for a description of this one.
    
    (when will someone invent a viseo-mailing list?)
    
    Martin
  • ...

    JOHN MARSHALL June 13, 2006, 8:17 p.m. (Message 45540, in reply to message 45482)

    
          
        
  • ...

    L. Friedman-Shedlov June 13, 2006, 8:59 p.m. (Message 45542, in reply to message 45540)

    I suspect the person who referred to a "Tulloch turn" meant what I would 
    call a "birling turn," i.e. sort of a spin.  In our area we do 
    this with by grasping our partner's elbow with one hand (the hand you are 
    "turning with") and clasping the other hands below.  I think of a Tulloch 
    turn as being a propelled pivot turn, done with the one hand around the 
    partner's elbow and the other in the air or holding a skirt.  Whereas a 
    Tulloch turn is actually rather slow, the birling turn is fast, and it's 
    also a lot of fun, so regardless of what Roy Clowes intended, I suspect 
    some won't be able to resist the lure of spinning 1 3/4 when the 
    opportunity arises.
    
    FYI, we don't do Postie's Jig with the spins here in the Twin Cities, but 
    I remember doing that way in Edinburgh with New Scotland.
    
    Lara Friedman-Shedlov
    Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
    
    ********************************
    Lara Friedman~Shedlov               "Librarians -- Like Google, but
    xxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx                       warm-blooded"
    ********************************
  • ...

    mlamontbrown June 14, 2006, 11:35 a.m. (Message 45548, in reply to message 45482)

    Jan wrote:
    > Actually I was taught to turn that way some 40 years ago (a children's
    > class with an RSCDS teacher).  We used to practice the different
    > holds by doing slower turns and faster turns so that at any time we
    > could take either hold, or change from one hold to the other, smoothly
    > and easily.
    
    I'm glad to read that this hold was more than a local aberration which I was
    eventually discouraged from using - some people said that it hurt their wrists - 
    
    Like Jan, I can remember smoothly changing my hold as we speeded up and slowed down;
    and I can even remember going in for a tight turn, both hands missed completely, but
    we turned quite safely because our wrists were still wrapped around each other -
    (well we didn't fall over, and being much younger at the time that meant that it met
    the criteria for being "safe").
    
    Malcolm 
    
    Malcolm L Brown
    York  (UK)

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