It was great to have so many visitors on Monday. We marked St Patrick’s day by having a touch of green (thanks to those who did wear some), some lovely Irish warm up music and a couple of Irish Dances.
We danced Findlay’s Jig to warm up and recap our 3 couple Allemande, then danced two Irish dances:
The Wild Geese
The website “My Strathspey” says that “The Wild Geese” is a term used as a reference to Irish soldiers who fought in the service of various foreign kings. The legend is that when they died abroad, their souls were transformed into geese so that they could fly back to Ireland.
To dance The Wild Geese we practiced our Pas de Basque and learned how to advance and retire using the Jete in the step; and
City of Belfast
This is a more challenging dance so the more experienced dancers did this one. It has an Espagnole which we covered quickly. A scary name for a fairly easy formation. In the dance it is the 1st and 3rd couples who dance as follows:
Ladies lead across to the men’s side of the dance with right hands joined. 1st lady crosses 3rd lady over in front of her. The men dance across to ladies side of the dance passing around the ladies.
Repeat with men crossing and ladies dancing around the men.
3rd couple turn right hand once around as 1st couple turn left hand.
We then went on to learn the Grand Chain – Key points are that hands are held and released at shoulder height and the phrasing for the hands is “right for one, left for one, and right for 2…. bars. Left for 1, right for 1 and left for 2…. bars. This allows us to dance in an oval shape for 6 people using 8 bars of music.
We danced the Grand Chain in quick time in Hedwig’s Reel (the 2nd and 3rd grand chains in the video have good timing, not so much the first) and in strathspey timing in Lady Lucy Ramsay which also included a 1/2 rights and left.
We also looked at set and dance half right hands across and danced the ever popular De’il amang the Tailors using that.
It was a busy evening but all the new dancers are picking things up super quick which makes it a joy for the teacher!
It was a pleasure to teach you all on Monday. My first teaching date for the year and what a responsive bunch you are!
We started the night off with a dance Skip Change Only to recap some of what we have learned. As the name suggested, this dance only has Skip Change of Step in it.
After that we moved on to learning the most difficult step to master Pas de Basque. Below are some notes about this step and a video can be found at Pas de Basque
It was great to see you all keeping a nice even rhythm when trying this step.
Pas de Basque
- This step is used for setting and sometimes travelling over small distances
- The movement is spring beat, beat and….takes one bar of music
- Starting to the right: you spring onto the right foot, bring the left foot into third position in front, transfer your weight to the left front foot then to the right back foot while lifting the front left foot into a Jete (front toe pointed down and slightly above the floor)
- To “set” two bars of music are used. Setting is one pas de basque on the right foot and one on the left.
We danced Espie McNabb to try out our Pas de Basque in a dance.
We then had a look at leading down the middle for 3 steps and back. A bit trickier coming back with the left foot and danced the strathspey Sally’s Fancy with this movement in it.
To give the club members who have danced a bit more of a challenge we danced Mrs Stewart’s Jig.
We then looked at the 3 couple Allemande. This is similar to the 2 couple Allemande we have danced earlier but the first couple only has two steps to dance around the top so the ditti to remember this is:
“Out-and-pivot, pivot-face-down, down-the-dance, down-the-dance, into-line, in-and-under, retire and retire”
It is really important that the 1st man is pivoting and not moving up too far or the other couples following don’t have time to get around.
We danced Tap the Barrel to put our 3 couple Allemande into practice. See Allemande
Our final formation for the night was Back to Back again notes on this are below and a video can be found at: Back to back
Back to Back
This is danced in 4 bars of music with 4 steps. (We used skip change of step)
We danced back to back with your partner. This starts on the sidelines facing your partner.
- The 1st step (right foot starting) is used to advance toward your partner and pass by the right shoulder.
- On the 2nd step you move sideways to the right (passing back to back with your partner). Your left foot crossing over the right to achieve this.
- On the 3rd and 4th step you us skip change of step backwards to retire to the sidelines
Our final dance for the night was Joie de Vivre (Joy of Life) a great dance that is popular on dance programs. This was a little trickier but used most of what we had learnt over the night and you managed fantastically. Here is video a Joie de Vivre
Great to see everyone on Monday night. We had quite a few apologies from Club members who weren’t able to come, however with our new people we had nearly 3 sets. We welcomed to new dancers. They were on the catchup track as all the dances we did were either dances we had done in the last 4 weeks or had the formation we had covered. Well done to all our Beginner Class “graduates” who danced very well.
We looked at a new step – strathspey travelling – (dip, close, step and through) and used the same step in a circle. Unlike slip step which we use in the faster tempo dances , we start with the right foot so need to cross our right leg in front.
The dances we did were:
A lot of the dances are available on You Tube. Most are of people dancing but these are animations in some cases.
As I mentioned, dancers from the Wellington region participated in a series of videos to demonstrate steps and formations. They can be found here: https://www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com/scd-miscellany.html Look for instructional videos
The Scottish Country Dance Dictionary is also a valuable resource. You can look at information on steps, formations etc and it has links to you tube videos and instructions. https://www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com/https://www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com/
Phew…that is a lot of information. There is no compulsion to watch any of this as we will cover formations and steps at clubs, but I know some people find it useful for revision.
I have been in touch with Elaine from McPhees with the shoe sizes and she will send a selection to Ann who in turn will bring them to club for people to try on and confirms sizes and styles.
Ann and I share the tutoring for the Club and she will be taking the classes for the next couple of months. I am away for a couple of weeks but will see you all after that.
Beginners classes are starting soon, commencing 4 February 2019, from 7.30pm to 9.00pm. They are especially for people who have never danced before, or who danced a long time ago and need a refresher. You don’t need to be Scottish to enjoy Scottish Country Dancing!
The cost for the four lessons is just $25.
As dancing gets you moving, you will warm up quickly, so wear cool clothing. To start with you can wear soft soled shoes – the thinner the better.
A regular dance partner is not required for Scottish Country Dancing as it is customary to dance with a different partner for each dance, making it a very social form of dancing. Dances are usually danced in a set of eight people – 4 men and 4 women arranged either in two lines (men facing women) or in a square, and they work together to dance a sequence of formations.
There are several basic steps and about a dozen figures which will get you through quite a number of dances. There is also more emphasis on “steps” than in, say, ceilidh dancing, but the basic technique can be learned through a couple of months’ worth of practice evenings once a week at Club nights.
Club nights, schools, balls and social dances are held in places all over New Zealand and the world. Once you know the basics, you can join in anywhere in New Zealand or around the world.