F 1 D 0 - 2004 06 20 at 0300 Colin Hume Weekend so far. This has been a world class weekend. Thanks to Karen Millyard for her vision in getting this done. She's done a lot of things which I suggested were over management, but look at the perfect weekend. I should tell her I take the mean words back. She found a pothole by surprise, and wrecked her foot. So she ended up missing the very weekend she laboured for. Les, another dancer among us, from Hamilton, got hurt during the London ECD weekend, missing a lot of it. London's dance floor was linoleum covering concrete, and this isn't good for dances where we jump and bounce a lot. Oh, I can hear you all insisting that English Dance is all sedate and calm. Well, lose that notion! Most dances include even the very basic "Set and Turn single." Setting? That alone requires a nice bouncy wooden floor. So our floor at St Barnabus is good. But the Thursday before the dance-- One Day before the dance!, Les falls and breaks his elbow. It looked like he might end up missing another ECD weekend. But that isn't what happened. He danced with his arm in a cast and sling. So now, how can I convey what we experienced at this event? I'll start with the bits I'm least excited about, and work towards the good stuff. We had a caller's workshop. I didn't get too much from it. We spent a long time on going around the circle introducing ourselves, and very little practical work, practical dance, or practical information got conveyed. Some, yes. Colin has been calling for some time, and he believes that dancing is slowly losing its high quality, getting simpler and less interesting. That's because many of the dancers don't come out for learning, but are eager to simply dance. Not a class, but all just social. So under these circumstances, how do we pick programs, teach dancers, and more? He recommends that the best callers are primarily entertainers. Short bits of instruction don't pollute a night of dancing. Saturday workshops at an English Dance weekend are usually like this: First one: introduction to English (for the benefit of new dancers who were compelled to join us). Second one: introduction to the Ball's dances (so we don't have to deal with many details later). Ball: after the dinner break, everyone comes back in full dress, ready to dance. Many are in period costume, but since we're not historical, most of us are just wearing the best things we have. I saw a few people in long tails, lots of women in bright evening gowns (two in Taylor Red, one in orange, many metalic). Sunday after the ball: an advanced English dance. This is an opportunity for the dancers present to do things too hard to attempt at the local dance, where there are new ones. Our weekend was arranged something like this, but not identically. The "beginner's" was entitled "English dance for Non-English dancers". I called it "English dance for those who HATE English dancing". This made Karen weep just a little. Title or not, almost all of the people present in the morning session were already competant English Country Dancers. So Colin simply called familiar dances to get everyone moving. Nothing too hard, nothing too easy. Our band for the English Dance was Bare Necessities, or at least 3/4 of them. Remarkable musicians able to freely improvise. They're *good*. They've produced many recordings with the popular dance music, and helped to put ECD onto the map. After lunch, the "workshop" was essentially just more dancing, but these dances weren't familiar at all. This program was made of some of the dances we could expect in the evening, but was really just a dance party of its own. The session was broken up by a visit of the Toronto Morris Men. White shirts and pants, with a big black "X" suspender thing. They had big sleighbells on their calves, and were very organized. Their dances involved not just the familiar English figures, but seemed much older. They did one dance where each had a big stick. They'd strike their sticks together in time with the music. In fact, their whole performance was a form of percussion to the solo fiddle. The evening ball was magnificent. All of us were dressed fine. Even me. I wore a black tuxedo, with a silk black shirt. Most of the dances we did were repeated twice. The first time he'd call out each instruction. Then he'd stop the musicians, and advise everyone that they were capable of dancing this without him drowning out the music. Everyone paid attention, and did fine, without further admonishment. I've neglected to explain what Karen put together for Friday. Just to show the local dancers not to be afraid of the Wacky English Dancers, the Friday dance wasn't English, but was a Contradance (which is American). Colin was a sharp caller. He had a good collection of busy contra dances, and he also called a few square dances he'd written. One guest from USA was surprised by Colin's skill. He managed the crowds well, and was a crisp caller. The band on Friday could have been Bare Necessities, but it wasn't. It was the world class contradance band "Flapjack". So our weekend had the world's best band for English, one of the best bands for Contra, and a renown caller for both of them. All of the dancing on Friday was very good. The dancers were alert, lively and on time for each submove. (at our dances, the quality of the dance is reduced significantly if someone is held up or just doesn't meet the right person at the right time. This contra was so perfect). I've been alert from all of this all night long... until now. Only at this point am I starting to feel fatigued about staying up much later. I'll post this. It isn't entirely accurate, as I'm sure I embellish things I consider noteworthy, but it's close enough. This was a perfect dance weekend. If you are at all curious about what we do, I hope you'll contact me for information, or just join us for event sometime soon. That's all I know.