Off the Beaten Path for Upper Elementary

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* Off the Beaten Path for Upper Elementary *  – Nov. 9 & 10, 2018
Friday 12:30 pm, Saturday 1:00 pm

Accretian Reel – The instructions for the dance are in the online notes.
MUSIC: any jig or reel.
A better way to describe A1 is:
Balance Forward saying “Hello”
Step back saying “Goodbye, turn away from your group of four and start walking around the room by yourself.
This is a great dance for teaching the A1, A2, B1, B2 phrasing of the music.  In order for this dance to succeed the dancers need to be able to individually recognize when each of the sections of music starts.  You can use this dance to evaluate each of your student’s comprehension of the phrasing of the music.  You might start by having the children sit on the floor and clap once at the beginning of each section of music, and then have them do the dance with just their hands.

Quartz Mountain Man in the Middle Instructions for this dance are in the online notes.
MUSIC: Any reel; I like using lively French Canadian reels.
We start every circle mixer by having couples promenade counterclockwise and defining the names for the inside (gent, “peanut butter”) partner and the outside (lady, “jelly”) partner. The main teaching point of the dance is how to do the clap/jump.   I start by demonstrating and then teaching the “wind up, clap-jump”; then the “clap, wind up, clap-jump” and finally the “clap, clap wind-up, clap-jump”. Then you teach the two different claps on the 2nd half of A1: only the gents/peanut butter partner goes forward.  Then all do their respective “clap, clap wind up, clap-jump” as described in the dance directions. I love how, in this dance, all dancers are in the air at the same moment, and when they land they, surprise, they are facing their new partners.

Tuesday Instructions for this dance are in the online notes.
MUSIC: We used “Slow G” from the New England Dancing Masters (NEDM) “Sashay the Donut” album.
This is based on the traditional English country dance “Durham Reel” which is in our New England Dancing Masters collection.  There is no progression in the Durham Reel, the same head couple leads the dancing each time through the dance.  I added a progression by having the lead couple make an arch at the bottom at the bottom of the 2nd “Coach & Horses” figure and the 2nd couple is the first couple through the arch, becoming the new lead couple. I like using “King & Queen” language for this dance. If all couples are facing the top of the set, the “King” is on the left and the “Queen” is on the right.  I start by putting the music (“Slow G” from “Sashay the Donut” CD) on to set the mood, and teach them their royal posture.  I might even dub each child “King” or “Queen” before the dance starts.
The two main teaching points:
1) The beautiful choreographical moment of having the dancers prepare the Queen’s Arch figure while finishing the 2nd Coach & Horses takes some practice, but it is so beautiful when the top King can finish the 2nd “Coach & Horses” figure and just keep walking right under the Queen’s arch.
2) For the Queen’s (& KIng’s) arch: The #1 Queen keeps her feet planted and never turns.  The last person to go under the arch is the 2nd Queen, who turns under the arch made by her own hand and the #1 Queen’s hand.  That 2nd Queen changes her grip as she goes under her own and the #1 Queen’s arch.

Sellinger’s Round Instructions for this dance are in the online notes.
Here is Brad Foster teaching this dance, from John Playford’s 1661 “The English Dancing Masters”.  They do a different kind of siding than I taught.  Here is the version of siding that I taught.

Willow Tree (adapted) not in the notes
A traditional English country dance.  We include the original version of this in NEDM’s “Chimes of Dunkirk“.  My adapted version leaves out the “strip the willow” figure.  Here is my adapted version of the Willow Tree:
Formation: 8 or 10 couples (it also works with 9 or 11, but not quite as well). Let’s say it is 10 couples:
Top five couples are the ‘Ups’ and bottom five couples are the ‘Downs’.
Music: any jig or reel.
Al: Top couple sashay to bottom. Top gent leave partner at bottom and sashay back up with bottom lady.
A2: Bottom couple (original bottom gent and top lady) sashay up the middle. When they reach the top the original bottom gent takes his original bottom lady partner back and sashays to the bottom.  All dancers are now in original positions.
B1/B2: Top and bottom couples sashay to the middle of the set WHILE the remaining couples “face”; “Ups” cast down and “Downs” cast up.  Back to the active couples who, when they reach the middle, make a ‘House’ of four arches: two side arches and two head arches. Back to the “casting off” dancers” who meet someone at the side, take their hand and go with them under the side arch. Then, inside the “house”, take partner’s hand and go out the appropriate ‘Up’ or ‘Down’ arch and back to place.
To repeat the dance, the Arching couples drop their hands and step back to their new places in the middle of hte set. The new top and bottom couples lead the next time through the dance.  If there is time left over when dancers arrive home they can do a two hand turn with partner, around and around, until the end of B2 music.
Here is the original version of the Willow Tree that includes the “strip the willow” figure.

Nancy & Arthur Instructions for this dance are in the online notes.
Nancy & Arthur is named after our son Sam’s and his wife Beth’s two children who, fittingly, live in London. I composed it for the purpose of having a dance in the style of an historic English country dance that could be done by children.
Here is a page that has both the instructions and the music.  Here is an mp3 of the music.  If you cannot download these from the links, send me an email <amidonpeter@gmail.com> and I will email you the pdf of the instructions & written music, and an mp3 of the recording I used.
TEACHING POINTS: The trickiest moment is the poussette into the opening circle right, so I teach that first.  Have everyone take hands in groups of four from the top.  Identify the 1st and 2nd couples in each group of four.  Then practice the poussette where the first & second couple trade places (#1 gent push, #2 gent pull) immediately into the #1 couple “open like a book” facing down and #2 couple “open like a book” facing up flowing right into the opening circle right; everyone keeps moving the whole time.
The 2nd most important teaching point is making sure, at the end of the two hand turn, that all the dancers pull in on the last two beats of B1 and all simultaneously push back on the first beat of B2.