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.