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Resources for 8 week improvers' course in Euston


On this page we post information on a week by week basis about dances, steps and formations covered. Meanwhile check here to see what has been going on in our Autumn 2023 beginners' class.

Check out this link on the RSCDS website for videos and information about basic steps and formations.

For information about where to buy dance shoes - check the bottom of this page, below the week by week class summaries.
 

Week 1: 17 January 2024

Welcome back to all dancers!  Jenny Kendrick was our teacher this week with music from Ian Cutts. 

To get us started,  we warmed up with The Highland Fair  to remind ourselves of rights & lefts. 

We then had a quick revision session on skip-change and Pas de Basque before moving onto a recap of Sleepy Maggie, including set & turn corners into reels of 3.

After the break, we looked at Strathspey travelling and circling before tackling a number of different formations:  

  • 3 couple promenade,

  • cross, cast, ½ Fig 8, and

  • 2H 4 Bar turns

all  leading to The Birks of Invermay. 

 

We finished with a fast and fun Jig to the Music. 

Looking forward to seeing you next week.

Week 3: 31 January 2024

James was our class teacher this week, accompanied by Ian on  fiddle. 

 

Following Dave's intensive Strathspey session last week we revised The Lammermuir Hills with its important formations, the all round (Strathspey) poussette and the Knot (check last week's notes for details and videos).

 

James introduced the class to an RSCDS favourite, the jig  EH3 7AF (affectionately known as the postcode dance, EH3 7AF being the postcode of RSCDS HQ in Edinburgh). This included a slightly different formation whereby first couple pass right shouldered, turn their first corner right hand, pass right shoulder again and then turn second corner right hand.

Mary Erskine. introduced us to double triangles and also included mirror reels and a half figure of eight.

We finished the evening with an energetic Deil amang the Tailors.

James will be our teacher again next week - see you then.

Week 5: 21 February 2024

This week we began with some skip-change practice, then turning Right Hand 1.0 and 1.5 times and pas de basque turning on the spot. This all led into learning a new formation set and rotate which we then put into practice in The Westminster Reel, devised by a London Branch member, Jeremy Hill. The dance also includes rights and lefts, and a diagonal reel of four (which some class members had already encountered at the Winter Wednesday dance). 

 

The geography was a bit of a challenge initially but we got there in the end. James noted an important skill demonstrated  by everyone - the ability to find our way back in to the dance if we got lost at any stage! We danced it non-stop twice through in two-couple sets at the end.

We then looked at a dance with a square set. Johnny Walker is a medley, so it is danced first as a strathspey and then as a jig. It's a lively dance which includes a petronella, grand chain and allemande.

This link has videos of both strathspey and quick time petronellas,

We were able to dance it all the way through - Strathspey and Jig with some lively playing from Ian.

Finally, we revised a dance from 7 FebruaryHedwig's Reel.

Week 7: 6 March 2024

This week we  learned crown triangles and practised diagonal reels of 4 in the Baldovan Reel.

We then moved onto a jig, The Isle this included a reel of three, set to corners, a right hand turn in 1 1/2 bars and rights and lefts. 

Finally, we practised the all round (Strathspey) poussette.

Week 2: 24 January 2024

Dave Hall led the class this week and we welcomed Erica Banks to her first session as an RSCDS London class musician.

 

We covered an immense amount of ground during the class - congratulations to everyone who did so well. Dave began by focusing on strathspey travelling and setting steps. From there, he introduced the all round (Strathspey) poussette and the 2 couple Knot both of which occur in The Lammermuir Hills.

 

Moving into quick time, Dave then taught the QuickTime poussette before dancing the Linton Ploughman.

Check these links for videos of both quick time and Strathspey 

poussettes and of the 2 couple knot.

 

The class finished with the Deil amang the Tailors

Week 4: 7 February 2024

James was our teacher again this week, accompanied by Ian on fiddle.

 

We warmed up with Circassian Circle then revised EH3 7AF  which some had not done having been away last week. 

 

We then did Hedwig's Reel with its figures of eight on the side and its grand chain for six. 

 

The Lea Rig required all the strathspey skills developed so far this term and included a petronella  and a half poussette.

With just a few minutes of the class remaining we finished with the Deil amang the Tailors.

Week 6: 28 February 2024

James began the class with some light warm up then we plunged straight into some exercises for a strathspey, The Gentleman, beginning with  a complete two-hand turn in two bars. The dance also  involved half reels of three and and an all round (Strathspey) poussette, which we had learned with Dave earlier in the term at the end.  This was a complex dance and everyone worked hard to learn, finally dancing it through without stopping.

 

We then danced Major Ian Stewart which introduced hello-goodbye setting. the class picked this up quickly and every couple danced  all the way through the 32 bars without stopping.

Week 8: 13 March 2024

This week will be the least week of our Improvers' course - congratulations! 

For this final session James will teach Mrs Macpherson of Inveran and the The Sauchie Haugh, thus covering Inveran reels and the Rondel before we finish. If time permits, we will re-visit Major Ian Stewart

And then – what happens next?  Well, as most of you have already demonstrated, you are now much better able to tackle and enjoy dances at formal events. Your class fee for this term covers you also for the last 2 session of the general class this term. So, for 20 and 27, instead of going to the drama studio, go up the stairs, turn right and head for the end of the corridor where the General class and Simon Wales the teacher, will look forward to welcoming you – same time as usual.

 

We then have a break for Easter but the General class will resume on Wednesday 24 April. We have 5 weeks of lessons then the Summer Wednesday Dance on 29 May.  After that we have 3 Summer General Classes  on 5,12 and 19 June. These are same time, same place but with guest teachers and are a great chance to learn from different people.

About Shoes

Women wear Scottish country dance pumps. These look like plain black ballet shoes- but a bit more robust.

Men wear laced up ghillies – women sometimes wear these too as they prefer the laced up shoes

 

If you’re buying online, be sure to buy Scottish country dance shoes, not Highland dance shoes as they are different!

  1. For standard Scottish country dance shoes you can try Antonio Pacelli.

  2. Other online options are Thistle Shoes and James Senior Shoes – very helpful on the phone if you have specific queries.

  3. Split sole dance sneakers: some dancers prefer this type of shoe as it gives more support. I have heard good things about the Criss Cross shoe, which is made by Bloch, and Rumpf split sole sneakers have also been recommended. I understand that the sneakers can come up a little smaller than standard street shoes so worth considering sizing up.

  4. Specialist dance shops in London are Capezzio, Bloch and Dancia, all in Covent Garden. Mainly ballet – don’t have Scottish Dance on websites but might be worth popping in for a chat.

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