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Dancing for beginners - Term 2 of 2021 - class #1

Submitted by Elyna Delynor on May 13, 2021 - 11:33pm
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Dancing for beginners - Term 2 of 2021 - class #1

Date: 7th May 2021

This series of blog posts is to act as a reminder to those who were at the class. Further questions can be directed to Elyna. Instead of referring to genders I will be speaking of Partner-A and Partner-B. If a man and a woman are dancing together, the man will be Partner-A and the woman Partner-B.

We did some French dances called Bransles. Bransle is pronounced "brawl" and is sometimes spelled without an 's'.

Basic steps for bransles:

-        Single (sideways, starting either on the left or the right foot depending which way you’re going.) A single step, and then you close by bringing the other foot together. So a “single left” goes: step to the left, then bring your right foot towards your left foot, so you have moved a little to the left.

-        Double (sideways, starting either on the left or the right foot depending which way you’re going.) Very simplistically, two singles tied together. So a “double left” goes: step to the left, bring your right foot to close, step to the left again, and bring your right foot to close with the left again, so you have moved twice as far to the left.

Single Bransle, a.k.a. Knot Bransle.

-      This is a dance where we all hold hands in a circle, and you don’t need a partner.

-      The steps are: double to the left, single to the right. Repeat many many times.

-      If we are doing the ‘knot bransle’ version, then two people in the circle stop holding hands so that we’re in a line, and the person with their left hand free becomes the ‘leader’ and is in charge of winding around the room and tangling the line up as much as possible, as long as no one gets hurt and it stays fun.

-      If you want to practice at home, this youtube link is exactly the same version of the music I use in class: https://youtu.be/55B7qhAkWAw
There is a little drone at the beginning by way of intro, so you can be ready to start on the beat. It’s a very short tune so I lost count how many repeats there are, it goes for 2 minutes.

Double Bransle

-      This is a dance where we all hold hands in a circle, and you don’t need a partner.

-      The steps are: double to the left, double to the right. Repeat many many times.

-      It is customary to make the double to the left bigger than the double to the right, so that we gradually go round the circle.

-      Sometimes there will be swinging of hands also.

-      Energetic people will sometimes use the end of the phrase to add some kicks.

-      If you want to practice at home, this youtube link is the same version of the music I use in class: https://youtu.be/-NHbomRAyzk
Listen for the drumbeat intro and then charge in, again there are a billion repeats.

Washerwoman’s Bransle

-      For this dance you do need a partner.

-      We begin with everyone holding hands in a circle. Partner-A will stand on the left of Partner-B.

-      First part: 4 doubles, first to the left, then the right, then the left, then the right again.

-      Second part: Drop hands and face your partner.

-        Partner A immediately does a single to the left and then a single to the right, towards the middle of the circle and out again, whilst wagging their finger at their partner.

-        Partner B responds by a single to their left and then another to their right, so for them it’s to the outside of the circle and then back. They also mime telling off their partner.

-      Third part: Turn back to the middle of the circle but don’t hold hands

-        Everyone does a double left while clapping their hands in front of them four times, in time to the music. (The hands move alternately up and down while clapping, as if you were slapping dust from your palms.)

-        Double to the right with no claps

-        Double left with 4 claps again

-        Use the last double to turn around, to your left. Correctly, you use 3 kicks (left, right, left) and a little jump. If you’re out of breath, just move around in a circle and be ready to start again after four counts.

-         Start again! This time, in the second part, Partner B gets to start the telling off. Keep swapping who starts until we’ve all forgotten whose turn it is.

-         If you want to practice at home this youtube link is the same version of the music I use in class: https://youtu.be/NyB-U0gtdUY
Tiny little drone intro and then eight repeats.

We also did some English dances known collectively as the Old Measures.

Basic steps for the Old Measures:

-        Single (forwards or backwards, starting either on the left or the right foot) As described above, but moving forwards or backwards rather than to the side.

-        Double (forwards or backwards, starting either on the left or the right foot) Again similar to described above, but a double becomes three deliberate steps and a close, rather than ‘step, close, step, close’.

Earl of Essex Measure

-      In this dance you need a partner. Couples line up behind the lead couple with all the Partner-A’s on the left and all the Partner-B’s on the right. Each couple holds hands with each other.

-     First part:

-         Double forward starting on the left foot, then a single backwards on the right foot. (Forwards L, R, L, close the R, backwards R, close the left)

-         Repeat three more times, for a total of four phrases.

-     Second part:

-         Take a very slow step to the left

-         Take a very slow step to the right

-         Do one final repeat of the first bit: double forward on the left, single backwards on the right.

-      Start again!

-      If you want to practice at home this youtube link is the same version of the music I use in class: https://youtu.be/390ObLLzg4o
No introduction so be ready to take off on your left foot immediately. Five repeats and then a long chord at the end, during which you can reverence to your partner.

Lorrayne Almain

-      In this dance you need a partner. Couples line up behind the lead couple with all the Partner-A’s on the left and all the Partner-B’s on the right. Each couple holds hands with each other.

-      First part:

-         Do a total of four doubles forward, starting on the left foot, then the right, the left, and the right again. At the end of each double, do a little hop.

-      Second part:

-         Double forward on the left with no hop

-         Double backwards on the right with no hop

-         Double forward on the left again with no hop

-         Turn on the spot, away from your partner and then back to meet them in the middle facing forwards again. This is the only time you let go your partner’s hand during this dance, and you take hold of it again when you come back together. Partner-A will turn left, and Partner-B will turn right.

-         Depending on the version of the music, repeat the second part. The music we use in class has this first part once and the second part twice.

-      Start again!

-      If you want to practice at home this youtube link is the only music I could find: https://youtu.be/-cEkx2LSemQ
It is a lot slower than the music I use, so go into the youtube settings and crank the speed to 1.5. There are two bars of drum beats as an intro and then three repeats. This version repeats the second part, which is how we do it in class.

Other Notes: We discussed how it is polite to make a reverence to your partner when the dance finishes, and to show appreciation to the musicians by clapping towards them.

The Reverence takes slightly different forms depending on the time period, but put very simply, one pushes the left foot forward a little then immediately moves it slightly behind the right, and bends the knees to lower oneself, then straighten. There is no tilting over forwards, keep the back straight and head up, and simply let yourself sink a little.

 

~Elyna

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