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Dance: Nomencature and help therewith

Mr Red 15 Mar 17 - 06:12 AM
Mo the caller 15 Mar 17 - 03:51 PM
GUEST, 16 Mar 17 - 04:26 AM
Mr Red 16 Mar 17 - 04:44 AM
Mo the caller 16 Mar 17 - 01:44 PM
CupOfTea 18 Mar 17 - 12:46 PM
Mr Red 19 Mar 17 - 06:21 AM
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Subject: Dance: Nomencature and help therewith
From: Mr Red
Date: 15 Mar 17 - 06:12 AM

Anyone who is used to a particular genre of dance picks up the language eventually. But while the genre is new, and even when the dance is new, it helps to get a pithy description.

In Irish Set (social square dancing not Riverdance) there are moves that have good descriptions like "wheelbarrow" - very visual.
But some get shortened for the cognoscenti, and confuse.
My problem is that a good mnemonic may be discarded because of association, when it would help newbies to visualise. They help me anyway.
A move in the dance "Moate" they liken to St Brigid's Cross" - which is helpful (for women) if you know St Brigid*. But men start differently, the first part being more like a swastika, and most people know what that is. Hence the reluctance to give newbie men a valuable visual clue.
In the dance "Carrowbeg" there is a version of "strip the willow square" which I dub "Pythagorian" because the sequence is: "1)adjacent, 2)opposite and 3)a longer swing (hypotenuse) thence to the remaining couple". But Math(s) is difficult innit! Not IMHO.
I always explain a normal "Strip the Willow" for newbies as:
"think double helix", and the French call it "tire-bouchon" - corkscrew. How visual are those?

* famed for turning water into beer!
YouTube, Moate - Figure 4 @ 5 minutes
Youtube, Carrowbeg Figure 4

Those familiar with English/Scottish Ceilidh, Contra, Playford and Barn Dancing where we repeat 5/6 times - Irish Set changes subtly each set, and not always logically!

I guess there are linear peeps, and visual peeps and I am the latter.

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Subject: RE: Dance: Nomencature and help therewith
From: Mo the caller
Date: 15 Mar 17 - 03:51 PM

Irish Set dance has some great names for figures.
And they vary from dance to dance / place to place

Of course it can be confusing for people at a club that includes dances from various traditions (e.g. clubs I go to dance Playford, American, Barn dances and a few borrowed from the Scots). The same figure has different names, or the same name means slightly different things.
Straight hey = reel; circular hey = square through = grand chain,(=?) right and left through; star = hands across. And the change over my lifetime in things like where you finish a swing, or if a ladies chain / right & left through goes there and back.
A new member said that it's like learning a new language.

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Subject: RE: Dance: Nomencature and help therewith
From: GUEST,
Date: 16 Mar 17 - 04:26 AM

I thought I knew what I was doing until I read Mr Red's descriptions - now my brain aches.

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Subject: RE: Dance: Nomencature and help therewith
From: Mr Red
Date: 16 Mar 17 - 04:44 AM

I usually refer to the "language learning" with reference to the memory progression as: letter, word, sentence and paragraph. Then there is the problem of having to be bi-lingual.

Irish Set is more difficult because there are many moves that get shortened. House around, half house, house inside, and house corners all get called during the dance (if the dance is called!) with "house". All while the mind is still processing the last "set figure".

My message to callers is to find the phrase that best sums the move, which may sum for the caller but does it for the dancers?
And the order of the words is important, during the dance we have less time to process the message.
eg "ladies chain" tells the ladies to be alert, and then what to do. That is ideal.
Whereas "head couple" may mean the active couple or those temporarily at the head, "working couple" might be more pertinent.

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Subject: RE: Dance: Nomencature and help therewith
From: Mo the caller
Date: 16 Mar 17 - 01:44 PM

Yes. I think in the walk though it is important to give all the details that any of your group might need e.g. "first couple (now in the middle) swing and finish facing down with the lady on the right", but for the prompt during the dance there is no time to process that amount of words - "1s swing"
In a longways dance you shouldn't need to KEEP saying "2s move up" after "1s cast" but ....

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Subject: RE: Dance: Nomencature and help therewith
From: CupOfTea
Date: 18 Mar 17 - 12:46 PM

Yikes. I thought English Country Dance terms were quite numerous here in the US. Contra is much simpler, yet I know in Square Dance Clubs they have all sorts of fancy terms for combination of moves, but I swear that's because they don't want outsiders to dance with 'em.

The times I've learned set dances, (in Chicago at the cultural center & Augusta Heritage Irish Week, Cleveland East IAC, all back in the 80s) I found the terms close to contra/square/English Country dance I was familiar with & had no problem following them. Flummoxed the man teaching us High Caul Cap who said "how do you know this dance so well, when you've never done it before?" when I got to the right place every time. Adding footwork took more attention than attending to where to go/ who do go with. "House around" was the only completely new term then.

In decades of dancing to callers, and watching callers as part of the band, a good caller tailors their calling to the crowd & it's a very different thing with novices than an experienced crowd. Having a mix, you've got the advantage of having dancers to demonstrate a particular move. Also, having your dances ordered so that you build on each one; teaching ONE new or complicated thing each dance, not trying to add several at once makes it easier to get to the complex.

Fascinating to hear how Mr Red thinks about naming moves. (No clue what half of what he mentions are.) I think of what we call "meanwhile" moves, where you can't possibly call EVERYthing when different couples are doing different interlocking moves. Finding a term that works for this, and sticking to it in other dances that call for the same set of moves helps the dancers. Being aware of regional variations in nomenclature is great for a caller who travels, and checking to see if you have such a conflict is a benefit to them. You sound a thoughtful caller, and if you've got your own idiosyncratic move names, eventually it could be what you're known for! (hey, I've known it to happen!)

merry dancing to ya.
Joanne in Cleveland, now sadly only able to be part of the band.

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Subject: RE: Dance: Nomencature and help therewith
From: Mr Red
Date: 19 Mar 17 - 06:21 AM

Yes, we had a prime example last night at Stroud French Dance
the Bourrée tournante de Gran Pouterie where the "tutor" hated the so visual description as the "Ice Cream Bourrée".
It consists of a succesion of "V" shaped moves and then a epicyclic move around each other ie cornet and whipped ice cream. I even told 3 newbie people quietly and they thanked me afterwards.

Actually it is a lovely little dance so we could (I am putting my coat on as we speak) call it:

Bourréed Treasure

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