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Mo the caller country dance question (48) RE: country dance question 24 Apr 19

Leenia, we cross-posted yesterday. I agree with Joanne about educating the caller, I think you could work together to educate each other.

Do they chose dances that they have danced themselves, or just pick things they like the look of, from a book. (Wonder which book - might be one I have. If you want to know about specific dances do pm me). I usually pick mine either because I've danced it and liked it, or because I have a recording and find the track so special that I have to know the dance that goes with it. The second method doesn't always last more than a couple of times at club, sometimes I can tell from reading that it won't suit our dancers.

Since most English clubs use recorded music I learnt my calling to practising tapes at home. At the time, although I'd played piano and recorder as a child I could hardly tell a jig from a reel, and spent a lot of time listening to tracks and tallying As & Bs to work out how long they were. Educating myself. Later I went to a band workshop to learn some of the tunes (as I was booked to call with the group and wanted a feel for what they played). This helped a lot. There's a lot to be said for callers playing and musicians dancing - even a bit.
It might help if you could listen to recordings of a particular dance, to give a feel and inform your choice of alternative.

Also ask the caller if there is any part of the dance that needs a particular phrasing. In Ceilidh dances I prefer a 2bar,2bar, 4bar shape for the forward and back and cross over in Galopede (to get beginners dancing to the music), and a long note at the end of the phrase in St Bernard Waltz for the stamps (some tunes have the wrong rhythm there). It's not quite as simple as number of bars, some tunes work better.

The other thing about tunes is that it's not the dots, it's what the musicians do with them. The old EFDSS recording makes Daphne sound pedestrian, I liked Heartsease much better as a tune though it has an awkward transition for dancers, Hit and Miss is a better dance. Then I found another recording of Daphne which sounded much better. Same with Mr Isaacs Maggot - I enjoy the wistful sound of newer recordings. But for some dances the EFDSS record is more to my taste than some of the fanciful renderings (e.g. Bare Necessities). Again it depends on dance /tune - I love Bare Necessities for Freeford Gardens.

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