Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Couple of Links

Dance music is hard to get right. Before our balls my sister and I have a lot of work to do. The music needs to be the right speed for each dance, provide a solid beat, give the right mood, and let the dancers get through the dance several times. Here's a few useful doo-dads.

I usually splice and loop the songs using GoldWave Editor. Sometimes I get carried away and make them too long, and sometimes I go crazy listening to the same phrase over and over again, trying to cut it in the right spot.

Beats-per-minute counter This thing could be real useful if you want to tack metronome beats on to the beginning of a song (if it doesn't have an introduction) or just to give you an idea of speed.

A definite recommendation of this CD. The songs are at nice dancing speeds and the beat is always laid down nicely. Some of the songs are a bit short, but that's what I use GoldWave for.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Cavalier

According to a 19th century dance manual, a gentleman ought not play cavalier to two ladies. Don't worry, the guys don't ask two girls to dance, but a lot of the figures involve one gentleman and his partner and friend.

Oh, and the swings go by fast. Just enough time to get around once. This'll keep you on your toes.

A duple minor improper contra

1-8: 1st gent (and two ladies) perform a Dunstable Round.
9-16: Second gentleman (and both ladies) circle perform a Dunstable Round

17-24: Right allemande your partner (it will be appropriate to keep your arms closer to your side, rather than at eye level as is often practiced in the Virginia Reel)
25-32: Left allemande your partner

33-36: 1st gentleman swing friend once around
37-40: 1st gentleman swing partner once
41-44: 2nd gentleman swing friend
45-48: 2nd gentleman swing partner

49-56: 1st gentleman (and both ladies) in a Cavalier's Promenade
57-60: 2nd gentleman (and both ladies) in a Cavalier's Promenade
61-64: 2s arch and 1s join hands and go under.

Terms for the dance

Dunstable Round-- circle--8 counts-- A circle with 3 people, one gentleman and both ladies in a duple minor set. To the left unless otherwise specified.

Allemande-- a turn--8 counts-- In traditional contra dancing, a right allemande would be performed by two people joining right hands and walking around each other in eight counts (a left allemande would be to join left hands, obviously). If the allemande is a move performed by a lady and a gent, a shake-hand hold may be used.

Swing-- A turn-- 4 counts (often twice in 8 counts)-- Two dancers stand side by side facing in opposite directions, they then hold each other while moving forwards; the result is that they move together in a tight circle. Stand beside your partner right shoulder to right shoulder, take half a step back, and then put your right feet in so the feet are adjacent. To swing you simply walk round keeping each foot on its circle, taking your weight on the inner foot, and using the outer foot to push you round like working a scooter. Remember to pick the inside foot up to move it round the circle. The standard hold is a Ballroom hold: the man puts his right hand in the middle of her back (and this arm does all the work; she rests her left hand on his right shoulder, and they hold the other hands loosely out to the side.

Cavelier's Promenade--Floor movement--8 counts-- One gent joins his right hand to his partner's left, and his left to his friend's right. They go down the set for four counts, facing the other gent in the set and walk back up for four counts in the same manner.

Arch-- partner/friend move-- 4 counts-- Simply join hands with your partner or friend to form an arch that other couples can pass under.

All terms used should be found here.