Candidate Class: The Tricky Parts

As mentioned in my previous post, I have twelve Scottish Country Dances I need to memorize before May. This is not just memorizing the choreography so much as perfecting it, knowing every single piece of technique, where the hands go, where the feet go, exactly how far to turn. Expect me to talk about those dances quite a bit in the near future.

One thing our dance instructor has asked is for those of us in the class go through our 12 dances and identify what we think the tricky bits are, things that need special focus or practice. I think it would be interesting to come back to this post around the time of my exam and see if I have the same opinions.

I have done my best to link the dances from The Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary, which seems a *wonderful* resource. My versions may be very slightly different/updated from the website, I took all of them from the most recent version of the Unit 2 book of dances. This is official RSCDS stuff here!

Without further ado, tricky bits:

General Stuart's Reel: Fairly straightforward, trickiest parts look to be the transitions, remembering to turn the second corner by the right, and remembering to pull shoulders back correctly after the hello goodbye setting.

The Gates of Edinburgh: The last manuver of the double crossover mirror reels, where the ones move to top and bottom positions in the middle of the set. Getting the turns properly covered --obviously on the first part, the ones are turning more and aren't going to be quite in sync, but the twos and threes should be spot on for all of it.

Duke of Perth: This is all very straightforward to me, hardest part is remembering not to do extra turns on the set to and turn corners.

The Westminster Reel: Getting everyone back to original places on bar 16, everything else is pretty straightforward.

Miss Gibson's Strathspey: Seems straightforward enough, I would just watch out for keeping track of right vs left.

Mrs. Hamilton of Wishaw: Getting the correct timing on that meanwhile, remembering to DANCE up and then cast down. The weird reel from bars 9-16. The rest is fairly simple, but grand chains can be a challenge to get the timing right.

Alltshellach: TOURNEE! Really, everything about this dance is a wondrous challenge (it is so uncompromising and beautiful, it may be my new favourite). The transition from bars 16-17 (starting the reel) and the transition from bars 24-25 (starting the tournee) are both tough. Remembering all the fiddly bits of the tournee and being able to do them from any role or position.

Village Reel: This is really quite elegant and simple, I find. Having good strong arms for the pousette is important, flowing well from the pousette to the figure 8 promenade.

Woo'd and Married and A': Transition from promenade to pousette can be tricky. Remembering to end the pousette correctly, with the W between the 2s and M between the 3s. Getting from the circle to the promenade is tricky.

Miss Hadden's Reel: The final casting figure is unusual, and can be tricky for that. The rest of it is fairly straightforward.

The Starry Eyed Lassie: Lots of quick precise choreography, but nothing overwhelmingly difficult, until you get to the last eight bars and have to remember to bring the circle ALL the way around. That is killer.

Mrs. Stewart's Jig: Having the nice precise timing for the grand chain and ladie's chain is a must. Making the solo figure at the beginning look nice can also be a challenge --practice good covering!

Candidate Class: Overview

I have been doing Scottish Country Dance for almost 7 years now --my anniversary is the Monday after Thanksgiving. This means I've been doing it for over a quarter of my life, which is a whole different pile of awesome.

Part of dancing SCD has involved my gradual improvement, and invitation into more challenging or technically driven forms of the dance. There are advanced classes, there is the demonstration team, and there is reaching the point where one is encouraged to stop being a mere participant and become a teacher of the dance. I've reached that point, and for the last two months, have begun my Candidate Class.

An overview, for the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society is a creature comprised of red tape and buracracy: To become a fully certified teacher in the RSCDS, one must complete 5 units (comprising two levels). Level one is unit one, a written exam, unit two, proof of performance and technical accuracy, and unit three, proof of teaching skill. Level two doesn't start until a year after your level one certificate, and is comprised of unit four, a portfolio of lesson plans, and unit five, a more technically involved proof of teaching skill. It is all very official and impressive.

The upside of having all this is that the RSCDS can verify that its teachers really do know their stuff, and are committed to the goals of the Society. This is, first and foremost, a cultural preservation --Scottish Country Dance has roots as far back as the early 18th century, and being able to carry on this dance tradition is one of the core ideals of the Society.

The downside is that I'm giving up five hours of my life, every other Saturday, until early May in order to get my level one certificate. My unit one exam was two weeks ago (more about that in a separate post), which means for the next six months, I will live and breathe the twelve official dances I need to know for unit two, and the precise wording and pedagogy required for unit three.

I'm wonderfully happy with the situation.