|Volume 37 #6||May/June 2021|
Well, it is beginning to look like things may be (maybe) sort of heading towards a point where somewhere in the not too distant future we might be able to dance again. Together, I mean. At least, I've heard rumors to that effect. So, along with getting my Hope out of the closet and dusting it off, I'm sprucing up my ghillies, too!
We are nearing the end of the class year, and dance year, and membership year. As many of you know well, this past year our teachers have done a wide variety of things to engage their classes physically and intellectually, and very often, humorously. The Zoom "class" sessions we have attended have featured dance walk-thrus as well as home dancing, quizes of our knowledge of things Scottish, longest word challenges, arithmetic puzzles, and jokes and riddles. And some teachers have hosted "field trips" and hikes, exploring in socially distanced groups the local sights. And it was all free!
This month (May 15th), the Branch will host its Annual General Meeting, via Zoom, of course. We hope to see you all there! There will be brief reports about what was or was not done this year, as well as discussions about how we all feel about when and how to open up our classes again. Also, this is a great time to renew your membership. There will be an email soon with the details.
Rather than put off last year's Dinner Dance for yet another year, we are holding the dance (on May 22nd) as a Zoom event, without "Dinner". Instead of the Dinner, this year, attendees will be encouraged (challenged?) to show off a "Legendary" dessert during a break in the dance program. And sweetening the whole event will be the music, provided by the "lengendary" team of Cynthia Soohoo and Nathaniel Soohoo-Hui.
Soon, I'll see you on the Dance Floor!
The Harvey Mudd College Alumni Association hosted a
Virtual Donut Run
event during April 2021 with the goal to complete 8.5 miles, the distance to
The Donut Man
from Harvey Mudd College – one way.
Liza and I have been leading online dancing meetings for three folk dance groups
during the past year of COVID-19 lockdown (Scottish country dancing, square dancing, international folk dancing) with collections of dances and music. I explored the goal to dance the distance in our dining room.
I generated a playlist of 22 dances and music for each folk dance form and danced over 9.5 miles, 20,600 pedometer steps, during sessions I danced consecutively on 18 April.
Each dancing session was designed to travel around
6,000 pedometer steps in 60 minutes, knowing that continuous walking equals 125 steps/minute and one mile equals 2,160 steps. The Scottish dancing format measured 95 steps/minute with playing music four times each dance without any recaps. I selected most dances that I already knew with a few memory lapses. I danced three-couple dances in a four-couple set as 1st couple, 1st couple,
3rd couple, 2nd couple, having optimal movement.
The square dancing session was a collection of square dancing for one couple, plus some line dances selected from international folk dances. The called square dance movements remind the dancer what's coming next. The international folk dancing session's music stimulates automatic muscle memory movement.
Scottish dancing is promoted as Fun, Fitness, Friendship. The Fitness benefit might be more accurately portrayed as Health and Well-being. I have measured Scottish dance classes averaging around 40 steps/minute with less movement while teaching every dance compared with practising learned dances. Zumba dancing has a greater fitness benefit with continuous movement measuring over 100 steps/minute. It would be intriguing to design a Scottish dancing format with greater movement that comes closer to the theoretical maximum 95 steps/minute for marketing a high-intensity Fitness program.
With effortless motivation ... Move to the Music!
Teach + Practise Scottish Dancing = Greater Movement
[This article is reprinted with minor edits from the Nov/Dec 2007 issue of The Scottish Country Dancer. Ah, remember when...? ~Ed.]
This year was my first experience with the Bend Workshop & Ball.
As some of you may know, two intrepid dancers [Tom Halpenny and I] headed down to Bend, Oregon recently, and ladies, we did have more than two words to rub together! Tom and I began a leisurely journey at about 10:30am Friday and headed down Highway 26 over Mt. Hood and south through the Warm Springs Indian reservation with a stop and a short hike at a bridge over the Rogue river canyon/abyss and leisurely travel through many miles of grass farms, ranches, and small towns like Madras, towards the Bend - Redmond boomtowns.
We killed a bit of time upon arriving early with a first visit at Starbucks for Tom in Redmond, and wandering around Drake Park in Bend where there was an example of early logging equipment which had the look of an extra large cannon carriage until one looked a bit closer.
We were hosted for the weekend at Michael Andrakin & Judy Thompson's house in Bend. They were extremely hospitable folks who made absolutely sure we did not feel neglected. Tom and I took them to Anthony's, a very popular seafood restaurant in Bend as a hospitality gift.
The next day, we went back to the Redmond Grange for the workshop and, being a little late after a pleasant breakfast at Michael and Judy's house, we had the opportunity to watch a very erudite Chuck Ryer put the dancers through their paces from the benches whilst we kitted ourselves up for the day's activities, looked through the various sign-ups, and noted familiar faces. Once we were ready, we were swept up into the day's activities. This began with the advanced class where I learned, among other things, that I probably hadn't been doing a very good job leading my partner(s) through the Allemande figure. Chuck also reviewed how to properly shorten one's turning radius for quicker turns with decreased effort and admonished us to use all of the music. He also drilled us on regulating our steps to arrive at the right place at the right time which resulted in a bit of amusement and competition between the participants. Through all, his teaching style was very clear, concise and pleasant with smooth demonstrations throughout.
After a pleasant deli style lunch in which I had to exercise great restraint, we began the afternoon's enjoyment of social dancing which was a fun way to while away the afternoon learning more of the above-the-waist interactions between people during dances that make the experience more enjoyable for all. After that, Susie Allely, with humor and showmanship, lead us adroitly through the ball dance program.
For those who hadn't had enough yet, we had a too-brief period of waltz instruction by Sara Gratiot who is from Asilomar on the Monterey Peninsula in central California. She taught me I had much to learn about that dance form which I proceeded to demonstrate with Lea Martin, one of the Bend area dancers and an excellent waltz dancer. How embarrassing! Fortunately, she wasn't harmed. I wish there had been more time for this. Waltz is to Scottish dance in the dance world as jazz is to classical in the world of music: you have to know the various elements well enough to do them in your sleep and be able to switch between them seamlessly on impulse or need in order to make the dance flow smoothly. Waltz does not have the readily apparent structure of Scottish dance.
We then had a couple of hours to wind down, "ibuprofen" up, and get dressed up in our Scottish garb and invade Madaline's Grill en mass for dinner. Since they had Thai offerings, I picked a Thai wrap with lots o' salad. We sat across from Mark Welsh and through our conversations together, we were reminded again of just how geeky and intelligent Scottish dancers are!
Afterwards, we sashayed our way back to the Grange and began the activities of the Ball. It began with a grand march but with a bit of a random twist. Each dancer started out without a partner and ended up with a randomly selected partner in a dance set for the first dance. The Ball had the feel of lower intensity version of Fort Worden's ball with lots of pageantry, fun, mistakes, and triumphs throughout the evening. It actually went a little longer than I'm used to but, you know that couldn't stop me! After cleaning up the Grange facility we were using, we headed up to Mark Welsh's house for an afterglow of socializing, and "The Chair."
The next morning, we departed Michael Andrakin & Judy Thompson's home with our thanks and headed up to Sisters for brunch and a bit of English Country dancing afterwards. This gave us a little more time to get to know folks such as Sarah Gratiot and Tom & Hazel Ryan, over more food than we could or should have eaten. We also learned that English dancing is not always as slow paced as one might think, that it requires thinking and listening skills as much as Scottish dancing, and that Judy Johnson, despite her reluctance to do Scottish dance because of a past injury, has a quick mind for picking up something that she had never attempted before.
Many other enjoyable experiences were part of this weekend, but I don't want to hog the newsletter space and I know y'all will want to come with us next year and find out what you might learn and enjoy for yourselves!
Calendar of Events