Thanks Alan, Rich, Mac, and Jim!
> and have a couple slightly more challenging ones -
with progression, etc
- up your sleeve but without any emotional investment in
"without emotional investment in using them" is very well-put, and I think
it describes my philosophy overall for this dance "series"
Definitely agree on the "without any emotional
Long-term, do you have an ambition for these events to evolve
dances, or would you be happy as a clam to keep having events where
facility at ending a swing side-by-side with the _____ on the left and the
_____ on the right is not an important skill, so long as you have a room
full of smiling dancers?
I haven't emotionally invested in an outcome :) I don't live there, so I
can realistically only hold dances when I visit my parents. I think I'd *feel
glad *if I was able to help sow seeds of an eventual dance community. But
since I'm not present to spearhead growth, it seems like the best seed I
can sow is "have a room full of smiling dancers every once in a while."
Give people good memories of connecting with family and friends through
music and dance.
I have a few comments and questions about your notes:
The notes say "beginner's lesson (circle,
Lark Raven, ...)" but the dance
descriptions use "ladles" and
"gentlespoons". What terms did you actually
use? If you used "Larks" and "Ravens", did you say anything at all
their relation to traditional gender roles? In practice how much
correlation was there between what people looked like and which role they
That's a website feature---if you're logged in, you can choose a dialect to
print your program. So you (not logged in) saw gentlespoons, while I logged
in to print that program saw Larks & Ravens. When I print a program for
Childgrove open calling I print the roles as ladies & gents.
I picked Larks and Ravens for this dance, and introduced them like this:
"ask someone to dance, take their hand, and line up facing the band.
Somebody's on the left, lefts are Larks, raise your left hand. The other
person's on the right, rights are Ravens, raise your right hand. You can be
a lark one dance and a raven the next dance, the roles only matter so you
know when I'm talking to you."
As you notice only 2 dances really "had" roles, but this worked fine,
nobody seemed confused, and everybody danced with each other. The 'I can
dance with anyone" persisted from the beginners' lesson through the rest of
the dance too (you don't name them lark & raven or lady & gent to do
Virginia Reel, but you still find a partner. Men and women partnered, women
and women partnered, men and men partnered---which seems like the ideal
outcome for a twice-a-year dance? Who knows what ratio of people will come
in the door---my hope is to have people only have to sit out when they
choose to sit out.)
Leaving aside the waltz and the polka, it looks like
the only two dances
where the roles of Lark/Gentlespoon vs. Raven/Ladle were
the roll away dance and Mad Scatter.
I didn't say anything but 'find a partner for a waltz / polka' for the
couples dances. People did pair off more-or-less by gender for those; a
fair number of attendees were married couples.
Notes on the roll away dance say "succeeded at
walkthrough, weren't going
to make it through the dance." If you could
tell, did the confusion seem
to have to do with figuring out who was in what role, or was it mostly
about something else, such as getting from the star to the lines of four?
I think that the difficulty was that there were TWO roles to remember: a
person was a head OR a side, AND a raven OR a lark. That was too much
intricacy for people who don't know at least one of the roles on autopilot.
[Two side comments on that dance: (1) Notes say
"This variation is Wade
Pearson's, removing the right-left-through.
...", but the "original"
version you link to doesn't have a right and left through. It has a cross
trail. (2) Personally, I don't think it would be a great loss to drop this
dance from the repertoire, regardless of the role terminology or the manner
of setting up the lines of four. I could say more on both points but don't
want to go even further off topic.]
Agreed, I really wanted something with a rollaway since it's my favorite
move for "teaching giving weight," but it seems to require intricate
choreography to get people back to place. I hoped the square would do it,
but I overshot the audience. They were gracious when I had us switch, at
The other dance description that mentions the roles is
Mad Scatter. How
did that work out in practice? I note that it doesn't really
member of each pair goes into the center for an allemande or star and which
one orbits, provided nobody minds who they get for new partner. But I'm
curious about what actually happened.
Notes on Mad Scatter say "Avoid a mixer last even
though they voted for
it." Do you have reason to believe that people were
that? I certainly know of many dance series where people would bristle at
having a mixer as the "last" dance of the evening (even if followed by a
waltz as the really last dance), but I'm wondering whether you actually
sensed such bristling at your event. Note also Rich's comment on ending a
barn dance with a circle mixer.
This dance itself went smoothly, people retained their roles and knew what
to do. People sort of made larger and larger 'blobs' by the end of the
tune. I thought I sensed something like stress, though---in a scatter
mixer, it seemed like there were moments of "oh we're left out, there's no
new partner for us" and so sometimes people would have a
disappointed/stressed look on their face while looking for the 'lost and
found'. I had a broad age range, and it seemed like people who had lower
mobility were more-often the left-out, stressed ones.
Since those were the first non-smiles I saw all evening, I'd rather avoid
it next time, especially as the closing dance. I think a circle mixer would
be a great closer for this type of dance though, since you will meet
everyone to bid farewell, while always having a 'next partner'
Thanks for asking! I hope I've answered the spirit of all your
questions---if I've missed anything let me know,
Allison Jonjak, M.S., E.I.T.