Club Night Monday 26 April 2021

Tutor’s Notes
There was a good turn out on Monday given it was a public holiday (7+ couples). We didn’t learn any new formations but put the ones we do know to good use trying out some different dances.

We first warmed up to a selection of Sousa military marches. We then danced:

Turkey Trot (J)
This has a variation of hands across. 1st couple from 2nd place dancing 3 hands across. 1st woman up with 2nd couple and man down with 3rd. 1st couple then swapping ends to dance left hands across at the other end. (1st woman with 3s and 1st man with 2s.) This formation is colloquially known as tea-pots – but the spare arm should definitely not be in the teapot handle position!

Will Star (J)T
To practice our ladies chains (this dance was devised by Rod Downey who teaches at Johnsonville club). Will was a Scottish solo accordionist who, at the age of two, attempted to play his first tune “Poor Old Joe” on a melodeon belonging to his father. His family recognised the musical potential in young William and encouraged him to continue playing the melodeon. Later he progressed from the melodeon to the chromatic button accordion which he played for the remainder of his life.

You can hear a YouTube of his music here

Hope Little’s Strathspey (S)
(Which some people read from the whiteboard as “Hope Little’s Strawberries”). This dance has a Grand Chain.

The Black Swans of Narrabeen (J)
A five couple variation of Wild Geese which proved to be positionally challenging.

The Paisley Weavers (S)
A repeat from the previous week and involving both a grand chain and ladies chain

The Deil Amang the Tailors (R)
An easy dance with great music.

Club night Monday 15 March 2021

Tutor’s Notes
After an Irish warm up (to mark the fact that it is St Patrick’s day this week), while still in a circle, we recapped slip step.

I demonstrated the foot positions, first position with heels together (every time) and 2nd position. Both these positions require good turn out from the hips. I also re-emphasised the fact that the circle’s momentum is slowed by the last step in either direction being 7 and close (rather than a full 8th step). After having practiced the slip step it was great to see the circles during the evening looking very tidy.

We moved on from 2 couple allemandes and promenades, to 3 couple ones. Both the 3 couple allemande and the 3 couple promenade start in the same way. Starting from the centre, the first step for the 1st couple is out to the right and pivot, the second across the top to face down the man’s side. On bar 3 and 4 the 1st couple dance down the side, allowing the 2s and 3s to come into a line behind them facing down the dance.

We danced the 3 couple allemande in The Findlay’s Jig and the 3 couple allemande in Ayr Promenade both of which the newer dancers managed with ease.

We then introduced the new dancers to Pas de Basque, setting step in quick time.

We focused on the 3 even beats and clapped the rhythm to help us feel the beat. Everyone picked up the rhythm well so we moved on to foot positions. Here is a great video to practice with Pas de Basque. We danced Espie McNabb to practice our Pas de Basque.

Everyone then danced two more challenging dances, ones that do appear on dance programmes. These were Joie de Vivre and 12 Coates Crescent, the latter being the address of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Societies headquarters in Edinburgh. Joie de Vivre is one of my favourites, we will repeat that next week to give it a little more polish.

The two dances we did for more advanced dancers were. The Minister on the Loch and Pelorus Jack. Pelorus Jack is a NZ devised dance. The tandem, alternating reels depicting dolphins playing and the name referring to a Risso’s dolphin famous for escorting ships through the Cook Straight in 1888 – 1912.

Club night Monday 8 March 2021

Tutor’s Notes
It was nice to be teaching you all again and it was great to see our newer dancers getting to grips with 2 couple allemandes and strathspey travelling.
We spent some time recapping and adding extra polish to the steps and formations Philippa has been teaching over the last few weeks.

We looked at our skip change of step, how the skip helps us move forward rather than up and how we can shorten the step but still keep the shape of it, maintaining the turn out from the hips and the third position. We then used those small steps to advance and retire and dance back to back in the dance Jig to the Music.

After that we recapped the 2 couple Allemande and focused on keeping the top of the Allemande flat (no “muffin tops”). Again short steps are needed, especially by the man to achieve this. We danced Lady Catherine Bruce’s Reel.

We then learnt the 2 couple promenade, very similar to the 2 couple allemande. The promenade is not a progression however, so on bar 5 the first couple dances up the centre, on bar 6 the second couple following the 1s dance up, on bar 7 both couples continue up and on bar 8 everyone dances diagonally out to their original places.

There is no video of the dances we did with this formation (A Sunday Stroll and There Cam’ a Young Man (both Jigs)), but you can see the promenade danced in this video.

Apparently the title of this dance, There Cam’ A Young Man, comes from The Brisk Young Lad song published in 1776.

There cam’ a young man to my daddie’s door.
My daddie’s door, my daddie’s door;
There cam’ a young man to my daddie’s door,
Cam’ seeking me to woo.

The song is about a brave young lad who came to woo, but was unsuccessful as he had far too much to drink!

The dances we did for those more experienced were Flowers of Edinburgh and Mairi’s Wedding, both well known favourites.

Beginner class 15 February 2021

Tutor’s Notes

Our step practice for the evening was advance and retire in skip change. It is more challenging going backwards – the rhythm is still the same -hop right close right, hop left close left. Extend your leading leg behind as straight as possible on the retire. We concentrated on perfecting rights and lefts. Remember that it is the woman in 2nd place and the man in 1st place who turn into place. This is the only position that there is a “twiddle”.

We also looked at figures of 8 across the dance. Another 8 bar formation r – 2 to cross, 2 to dance up or down the side, 2 to cross and 2 to dance up or down the side to original places. You did well with this as you need to be confident in which couple you are – 1s are crossing down to begin and 2s are crossing up. The figure of 8 is a basis for several formations that we will cover as we build up our knowledge.

We danced the following;

Through the Garden Gate
This was to practice courtesy or polite turns that we do in right and lefts. Not quite the same in the formation but gave you the feeling of the half turn required for 2 of the 4 dancers

The Highland Fair
Casting off behind the lines and back, a new progression using lead down the middle and back. This time 1s lead and the twos dance up for 1 bar and then follow them down for 3 steps, 2s lead back and finish in 1st place, with 1s in 2nd place, and our formation for the evening – rights and lefts.

The Atholl Reel
Introduction of advance and retire. 1st man and 2nd woman began (4 bars) followed by 1st woman and 2nd man. Again it is important to remember what number person you are. Then formations you are familiar with – leading down the middle and back and rights and lefts

The Oban Reel
Introduction of figures of 8 across the dance.
The rest of the formations were repeats. 1st couple followed by 2nd couple who dance up the side lead down the middle, 2s lead back and the dance finished with rights and lefts.

Another good week. I hope the building up of formations is helpful, as are the repeats of those you have already learnt.

See you next Monday.