|Volume 29 #6||May/June 2013|
|Dancing and Dining with St. Patrick||March Madness, SCD Style|
|New SCD Branch Nametag||Scottish Dancers Perform at Square Dance|
|Portland Workshop and Ball, 2013||Dancing From Briefings|
|Portland 2013 Workshop and Ball||Non Verbal Communication|
|To Mountain View, California||Calendar of Events|
|Dancing and Dining with St. Patrick|
|by Liza Halpenny|
Well, faith and begorra March was a merry month for dancing! By Celtic connection to that famous Scot, St. Patrick, the SW Washington Scottish Country Dancers were booked for four St. Patrick’s Day-related performances. Here is a wee report on how it all went.
It began with a lovely and lively practice in the cozy garage-cum-dance-studio at Marge's house, followed by a delicious luncheon for the dancers. A few days later was a practice run by Rebecca, solidifying our confidence in the dances. It is a good plan – using the same dances for multiple performances. Each performance had a different roster of dancers, and there were some last minute illness-caused changes, so we all had good practice at being flexible.
An example of this was our first performance, or rather performance-that-wasn't. All dressed up and headed in various cars to Marquis Centennial Rehab in Gresham, we received a call that the facility was under quarantine and the performance was cancelled. U-turn. Unexpected free morning. Not to be denied a dancing opportunity however, a sub-group continued on to Janice Taylor's brand new home in Fairview and christened it with a dedicatory strathspey. This was followed by shopping at Goodwill and lunch at McMenamins Edgefield. We make our own fun around here.
|Vancouver Mall Demonstration|
So, the first actual performance was at Rose Valley Assisted Living in Scappoose, OR. Carpooling and Google Maps brought us all safely to the facility, where we performed in the lobby. Marge provided interesting historical details to the audience as we caught our breath between dances. Our proximity to the front door added entertainment value, as we tripped the electronic eye with each lead down the middle, causing the doors to swoosh open. Afterward, our lunch plans were somewhat altered by a car battery that needed jumping. So some headed straight home, and others enjoyed a yummy Mexican meal at nearby Ixtapa restaurant.
The next day found our stalwart dancers at Van Mall Retirement for our yearly St. Patrick's Day gig. Rebecca provided energetic, cheery leadership, with clear briefings for each of the dances. No electric doors this time, just large pillars to avoid. We were well-received, as always, though this time we were treated to cookies and cupcakes afterward instead of corned beef and cabbage.
The following Saturday we hit the road again, this time to Arbor Oaks Terrace Memory Care in Newberg, OR. Dance Scottish – see the world. Today's challenge: how to orient ourselves to best serve audience placed on opposite sides with us in the middle. Under the capable leadership of Marge and Geri we performed admirably, and of course enjoyed ourselves in the process. Previous commitments took some dancers straight home afterward. Others sought out a nearby Jack in the Box for the obligatory calorie-fest.
So, you see, if you sign up for performances, you have all kinds of fun. I highly recommend this method of bringing SCD to the world, while supporting our Branch and enjoying friendships (and food). The dancers who were involved in these escapades were Linda Mae Dennis, Patrick Hogan, Sarah Harriman, Janice Taylor, Cathy and Caitlin Jones, Norma Rice, Marge van Nus, Geri Stuart, Rebecca and Kathlleen Mintz, Kate Prouty, John and Susan Shaw, Sally Bledsoe, Jim Sybor, Martin MacKenzie, Van Meter Hord, and Tom and Liza Halpenny.
|New SCD Branch Nametag|
|by Tom Halpenny|
Our SCD Branch began distributing new laminated nametags to members last fall. Liza Halpenny designed the layout which identifies the Scottish Country Dancer's name and affiliation with the RSCDS SW Washington State Branch. The nametag idea is borrowed from the Square Dance world in which club members wear permanent badges to dance events and classes.
Van Meter Hord has printed stick-on nametags for previous dance events, decorated with fun graphical dance themes. We are trying an experiment for the May 4, 2013 Dinner Dance. We will present the SCD Branch laminated nametag to all participants who do not already have a nametag.
The goals are: - Present a quality gift of friendship to Scottish dance friends. - Dancers might wear the nametag to other dance events and advertise our SCD Branch.
If you already have your laminated nametag, please wear it to the Dinner Dance. We will have a full house, with lots of names to learn.
|Portland Workshop and Ball, 2013|
|by The Editor|
Folks, I just had to post this to a comment by Darrick Wong on facebook ® from my memory of the Portland Ball this year:
Myself: "I have engraved in my memory, during "Australian Ladies" while waiting for our turn to be "up", the absolute look of rapture on Holly Gibson's face as she was listening to the music as played by Lisa Scott and Deby Benton Grosjean. Hmmm, fodder for a newsletter article, perhaps?"
Holly's Gibson's reply: "What music? Oh, you mean that heavenly sound rolling over the entire dance floor? I think you just want filler for the newsletter."
|Portland 2013 Workshop and Ball|
|by Holly Gibson|
|From Another Era|
It seems like yesterday that we were attending the 2012 workshop and ball and yet it's now been over a year ago, and the 2013 ball has also come and gone. This year's ball lacked the excitement of last year's (although panic might be a better word considering both teachers at one point or another in their travels to Portland experienced weather delays and were unsure as to whether or not they would arrive in time). That experience provided a valuable lesson: it's best to have at least one of the teachers within driving distance, just in case. This year, Jim and Lea Maiolo, along with their adorable daughter Jasmine, made the trip from Seattle to teach at the workshop. Jim started the morning with the intermediate dancers and Lea taught the newer dancers. The usual routine is for each teacher to teach one level in the first session and then the other level in the second session, followed by a combined class with both groups and both teachers. However, Jim became ill in the early afternoon and was unable to continue so Lea took over for the last class of the day. The dancers enjoyed both the teachers and the trickier dances they brought with them. A couple of the dances became even more challenging when danced in a seven-couple set, which is always a good recipe for hilarity.
The location for this year’s event was Christ Episcopal Church in Lake Oswego. After lunch (deliciously provided by a local chapter of the Daughters of the British Empire) most people wandered out to the lovely garden at the back entrance of the church and enjoyed the gorgeous weather and the smell of blooming daphne. Being inside on such a lovely Saturday was made easier with the excellent music we were fortunate to have for the entire day.
Having live music (as opposed to live musicians) for the workshop added another layer of fun. Lisa Scott and Deby Benton Grosjean teamed up for the intermediate sessions while Cynthia Soohoo provided the music for the newer dancers as well as the afternoon combined class. After the last class, everyone scurried away for a few hours to recover and get ready for the ball.
Because of an agreement with the neighborhood in which it’s located, music being played at the church has to finish by 10:00 p.m. or a little after. To accommodate that, the ball started at 7:00, but if it hadn't been for that schedule, a number of the dances would have been repeated. The music was wonderful and it was quite difficult to keep still while waiting to be one of the active couples in the set. Between Australian Ladies, The Reel of the 51st Division, and Seann Truibhas Willichan, there were many happy dancers on the floor. After an event like a ball there's always a bit of a coach-turned-back-to-a-pumpkin feel the next day. But one of the best things about Scottish country dancing is there's always another event just around the corner to look forward to.
|To Mountain View, California|
|by The Editor|
This editor spent the week of April 15th through the 19th in Newark/Harward area of central California, sometimes known as the South Bay for business. As I was very fortunate to have access to a rental vehicle, I made contact with Alan Thwigg who dances and teaches at the Mountain View Class which is a local outlet of the San Francisco Branch. In concert with Jewel Murphy, the class manager, I navigated my way there Wednesday night.
I arrived a little bit early and encountered a number of British ex-pats, among them Lin Pettengill the advanced class teacher and a woman named Charlotte though her last name escapes me. I was warmly greeted and the process of setting up for class commenced.
They have access to a facility large enough that they can divide the room and hold both the advanced and beginner level classes concurrently. I was guided to the advanced class when they saw my gooped ghillies. The class was very well run and the dancers were all quite capable though friendly. We practiced four dances that will be at the Truckee Workshop & Ball coming up June 22, 2013 in Truckee, California. The dances we worked through were Laird of Milton's Daughter, Barbara's Strathspey, Land of the Sky, and for the last dance combining the beginning and advanced class, Catch the Wind. If anyone is interested in attending, point your browsers to https://sites.google.com/site/ssscdnv/truckee-workshop-ball Also, you can see information about the Mountain View Class including photos of some of the people here at http://www.mtview-rscds.org/index.html
Afterwards, it was late but because Paula Jacobson, who teaches the beginner level class, prevailed upon me and as I thought I probably wouldn't sleep well that night anyway, we all repaired with herself and four others to a small Italian restaurant in Mountain View along El Camino Real named "Frankie Johnnie & Luigi Too" for libations and socializing. Susie, Trudy, the aforementioned Paula, Chris, Sparky, Suzie, Alan (Twhigg), and myself gathered there and I learned several things. I learned about the friendship between Cynthia and Sparky, how long Paula has been teaching, the recent career success of one of her sons at Dolby ®, the troubles they've been having with the parking lot lighting of the facility where they meet, and the fact that they consider Debbie Dahlstrom whom some of us know to be "one of their own" though she lives in Reno, Nevada. They learned from myself a bit of trivia about the current state of Scottish Gàidhlig and a bit of how it sounds when used in conversation.
At the end, however, we all had to return to our homes. There were final greetings distributed to all and though they didn't know me from Adam, I was given three hugs by three different people upon our departure.
Yup, Scottish dance folks are good people and it is worthwhile to pay attention in class and, when opportunity presents itself, to toss one's ghillies in the suitcase.
|March Madness, SCD Style|
|by Marge MacLeod Van Nus|
Since the 1980's we Scottish Country Dancers have frequently been asked to "become Irish" even though we "Dance Scottish." March 2013 was no exception. Within two weeks we completed 3 demos celebrating St. Patrick. Many thanks to all who danced; some one time (Sally B., Rebecca, Kate, Kathleen), some two times (Norma, Jim, Martin), and those three time troupers (Liza, Susan, John, Tom, Geri, yours truly). As a result of your dedication we have donated substantially to the Branch treasury.
|Scottish Dancers Perform at Square Dance|
|by Tom Halpenny|
Ateam of Scottish Dance friends entertained the Happy Hoppers Square Dance club April 20, 2013, at the Clark County Square Dance Center. We can view the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLbEQv4SKsI
|Happy Hoppers Performance|
The team performed the strathspey "As You Wish", by Linda Mae Dennis, to demonstrate the slower graceful style of Scottish Dance, which might appeal to Round dancers who enjoy ballroom dancing like waltz and two step. The team then performed the high-energy reel "Shiftin Bobbins" that Square dancers would enjoy. Liza promoted the upcoming Fifth Tuesday introductory Scottish Dance event on April 30, 2013, and the beginning of the May-June Scottish Dance class sessions. We showed Scottish dancers what a Happy Hoppers square dance looks like, and enjoyed introducing our Scottish Dance and Square Dance friends to each other.
Performance dancers were Martin MacKenzie, Liza Halpenny, Sally Palmer, John Shaw, Kate Prouty, Susan Shaw, Tom Halpenny, Linda Mae Dennis, Holly Gibson. Visiting the Happy Hoppers was definitely our pleasure! We can access the Happy Hoppers website at http://www.happy-hoppers.com/
|Dancing From Briefings|
|by Marge MacLeod Van Nus|
No matter what our individual learning mode; visual, auditory or kinetic, when it comes to listening to a briefing we all need to hone our auditory (and minds eye) skills. A briefing recalls dances we know, or have done, and should take only 20-25 seconds. Listed below are suggestions for understanding briefings to enhance our dancing pleasure.
1. Learn the names of formations and know them cold! 2. Understand how to hook formations together, i.e., a three couple circle to a promenade. 3. Know to step up or down even when not told. 4. Pay attention to the music and know when to step up or down, when to join in or stop, and when a new cycle of the dance begins. 5. Realize we cannot learn an unknown dance from a briefing.
Do not be overly concerned about memorizing dances (except for performances). In class, concentrate on learning more about dancing, keeping in mind the above suggestions.
Technology today offers more visual aids with YouTube demos, DancieMaetions, and on line crib notes - which, alas, can sometimes be flawed. All are very handy for reviewing an upcoming dance program.
The joy of a social evening of SCD is assured when everyone listens quietly to the briefing. We then are ready for the bow and curtsey to chosen partners as the music sweeps us up into "Ane Celestial Recreation" (quote from George Emmerson.)
|Non Verbal Communication|
|by Linda Mae Dennis|
There was a bit of a buzz on the Strathspey Server in December about communication on the dance floor. Many good points were made. The main one was that help given on the dance floor needs to be non-verbal. That certainly gave me something to think about, as I am very guilty of talking both to my partner and others in the set during dances. The audio channel should be reserved, most importantly for the music, and also for the teacher, coaching rhythmically as needed. And as needed is quite key.
It was noted that if help is given constantly, the people who need the help never learn to actually dance for themselves. One comment was, "This is what Hugh Foss called 'learning to dance the way a tennis ball learns to play tennis.'" It was suggested that even non-verbal help should be limited. In fact, I was talking with a dancer just last evening who learned Scottish Country Dancing as the only beginner in a group of experienced dancers. He told me he didn't really learn anything for a very long time, because people would show him or shove him constantly. He was never allowed to make the mental connections that lead to good dancing.
Bruce Hamilton said, "The reverse of obtrusive helping can create a virtuous circle. If help is given only when needed, and then lightly, the less experienced dancers watch more closely for the cues. That is, they pay careful attention to the faces and bodies of the people they're dancing with (who pay careful attention to them, trying to discern whether they need help). When that becomes commonplace, the cues can become even more subtle. The dancing gets more and more musical, the dancers pay exquisite attention to each other, the touching becomes as much 'listen' as 'talk' and the whole thing just takes off." I think this is a good goal to give only non-verbal cues and give those subtly and only when really necessary. So here are some suggestions for those who may need help and for those who wish to help:
Watch your partner very closely, particularly their eyes, hands, even their fingers. Keep in mind that you will almost always be either mirroring your partner or going the same way they are going, so even if you're facing out of the set, turn your head to see what your partner is doing. Keep an eye on the faces of other dancers in your set. If their eyes move in the same direction as a tilt of their head, that's probably the way you're supposed to go.
Try your best to learn the lingo and try to remember the dance in manageable chunks, for example, Cross and Cast and Half Figure of Eight (one chunk) is easier to remember than Cross with Right Hands. Cast off One Place and Dance a Half Figure of Eight (3 chunks, but exactly the same thing.)
Wish to Help:
Be sure you are remembering the dance correctly before offering help, and dance well, with good handing and phrasing. This is often more helpful than just getting the figures right. Watch your partner very closely, particularly their eyes. If the eyes say " I know what' s next!" then enjoy the music and the dancing and let your partner do the same. Try to give hands on the phrase (not before). Try to make any helping gestures more and more subtle as you progress through the dance.
We all need to keep in mind that making mistakes is part of dancing, and that a good mistake enhances the enjoyment of the dancing better than any amount of shouting or shoving or even loud talking and wild gestures ever will. Mum's the word!
Calendar of Events