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041129 the netherfield ball
Why does a good caller make us feel so very good?
I would like to introduce Tom Roby of San Francisco.
I didn't read his Bio until preparing this dance report tonight. It lists all of the things he's done, and I'm sure he's done them.
But what makes us feel so happy, so confident, when we get a good caller? Tom was such a caller.
He knows his stuff. He has a light airy attitude towards the teaching and the general deportment of the dancers. He knows the music perfectly. And he truly enjoys what he's doing.
The dance started at 530pm, with everyone making a stop at the church's kitchen in the basement. This is where we all had to put last minute touches on our food contribution for the evening.
At some point we all found ourselves upstairs, with many in some kind of costume. Tom called for the dancers to take partners, and the evening began, just like that!
I should have made notes. I can write to Karen or the musicians, and get the program for the evening, I suppose!
The first dance was Cockleshells, a lively duple minor dance, which was supposed to be a period dance from the Jane Austen period. (Duple Minor: that means the dancers are made of couples, but each of us forms a ring of four people or two dancers, and most of the moves involve just those people; only those in The Minor Set rather than everyone in the whole line).
None of the dances were entirely befuddling. Oh, we danced Mr Beveridge's Maggot (a maggot is a favourite helper, a do-it-all guy; in dances a maggot is A Favourite). That dance had some complicated timing, but was fine.
Tom let the dances run long enough to give everyone a chance to be an Active couple. So often we don't get to the top! He made sure everyone got a chance to practice the dance with music, and to finally experience it at full speed.
For those of you who want some dance names, we danced Grimstock, Scotch Morris, Yellow Stocking, and perhaps five others. I'll amend this page with details if I get that information.
All of these dances, with the exception of the final dance, were very energetic dances. The closing dance was a modern waltz.
I was very pleased with the program Tom chose tonight.
Our audience was special too! We had a few newcomers, and enough experienced dancers to help them get through it all smoothly. A number of dancers were regulars from the Glenview Scottish Dancers, and some of the others who joined us were Scottish dancers from Kingston, who came to Toronto for the St Andrew's Ball.
A lot of the steps and circles were done in the Scottish Style: Slipping circles, rant steps, skip change steps, Pas de Basque steps. Everything felt quite right.
Tom's teaching style was to cue the phrase, and sing it gently. Sometimes the band was asked to play the melody for us, but as a rule, it was just fine for him to sing the tune as we danced. (that's because if he sees us faulter, he'll adjust his tempo accordingly, and then ask us to try it once again).
The band was our own Steve Fuller, Vicky Obedkoff, and Cathy Campbell. Steve's a remarkable fiddler, with perfect intonaton and a natural sense of timing. Vicky has been playing piano on and off with Steve for a long time, and has learned how to stay with him as he cues changes. Cathy is new to working with this couple, but is not new to music. She's been involved in music since -- forever! She played silver flute, recorder and clarinet.
These musicians aren't flamboyant, aren't egotistical. They're calm, confident, experienced and professional.
The church (or hall) is often overlooked when it's done a perfect job. The Russian Orthodox Hall is a wooden floor, ideal for dancing. It is the home for our weekly Tuesday night dance, and many other dances too. Nobody complained about the hard floor, or anything like that.
Writing news that's only got good things to say is hard.
Our dance with Tom Roby was such a dance. If I'm ever in the (San Francisco) Bay Area, I'll make sure I attend these dances.
Our Netherfield Ball was a great success. Thanks to Karen for local arrangements, and to Christine Robb for discovering Tom and making sure we didn't let this opportunity get lost. (You see, Tom was here in Toronto on other business, and we just made sure we could have him at our dance during this time)
That's all I know.
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