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RSCDS London branch eUpdate 11 April 2020

Dear fellow dancers

The sun is shining (at least whilst I write this), the blossom is coming out on London's trees and, even if we cannot meet in person, the flow of joyful, inventive e-content from around the world has helped many of us to feel a little more connected.

A highlight of my week was definitely the RSCDS virtual class on Wednesday evening (see link below) and I am greatly looking forward to next week's opportunity to join in spirit with fellow dancers from so many different countries.

Elsewhere in this eUpdate we include the solution to last week's Word-Search puzzle, a Spot the Difference puzzle and a third set of Scottish dance videos from the archives.  

A silver lining of the current situation has been the access to new dances, music and humour as friends, colleagues and family share links to content they have discovered online.  Thanks to Jim Cook for this innovative approach to a warm up dance. Not strictly RSCDS but it made me smile! More orthodox content from the RSCDS podcast.

Please do let us know if you find something to share with fellow London dancers. Quizzes, favourite dance videos and memories of dancing in times past - all welcomed.  Tell us about your favourite dance - its history, music, how to dance it,  share your experiences of  Summer/Winter school or of dancing around the world!   

We miss you and we look forward to hearing from you

RSCDS Dance Scottish at Home. 
Wednesday this week saw the first RSCDS online class led by Angela Young with husband Graham on piano. The class quickly reached the 1000 login Zoom capacity and it was a wonderful lift to the spirits to see a steady stream of people, so many familiar names, logging in from all around the world.

Angela took us through a warm up and then concentrated on 3 different setting steps during the half hour class. It felt strange to be standing in my kitchen (having exchanged my bedroom slippers for dance shoes and being mindful of ornaments and light fittings) whilst stretching and setting - but it felt good!   Thank you to Angela, Graham and everyone at RSCDS who made this happen.

If you didn't manage to join the class this week, or if you would like to see it again, the link is here. Next week's class, with a different teacher, will be at 7pm on Wednesday and available via this link. More capacity has been added for next week so every good reason to join in, wherever you are.

For more information on this plus puzzles, podcasts, challenges and so much more - here is the Week 3 edition of Dance Scottish at Home.  (Previous editions available here Week 2Week 1)
Three of my favourite dances – a musician’s viewpoint
by Meryl Thomson
Last week Simon Wales told us about three of his favourite dances, The Dancing MasterAutumn in Appin and John of Bon Accord.  In this eUpdate, with thanks to Meryl Thomson,  we look at dances from a musician's perspective. 

What would YOUR choices be? Email to tell us about them.

Jig – The New Rigged Ship x48 bar jig – Book 9:7
I have always loved the tune for this dance. It’s a very happy tune, in the key of C major and fits well on the fiddle.
The tune is found in several old collections, including William Campbell’s 7th Collection  1792 and Hodsoll’s Collection of Country Dances for 1805 and Niel Gow’s Second Collection of Strathspey  Reels etc c.1788, here also given an alternative name -  Miss Findlay’s Delight. The dance instructions, where given in these collections, are varied and are only 32 bars. The New Rigged Ship doesn’t seem to be danced frequently nowadays, perhaps because it is 48 bars, although happily it is on the London Branch New Season dance programme this September.

Strathspey – The Rakes of Glasgow – x32 bar strathspey – Book 11:11
This is such an elegant tune which also works nicely on the fiddle. I have always enjoyed playing for the dance. The original tune appears in Thomas Preston’s 12 Country Dances for 1806, but here with a 24 bar dance.
A film from 1950  shows The Rakes of Glasgow being danced at fast tempo – around 145 bpm. The pianist creates an attractive drone-like sound on the piano in some sections. We have made a short recording of the tune from Preston using the original bass line to show how the original tune sounds in comparison

Reel – The Montgomeries’ Rant – x32 reel – Book 10:1
I have included this dance in my selection as it brings back happy memories of dancing at Irene Edgar’s Reigate class some 20 years ago. Such a fun class and for some reason the dance stuck in my head although not easy for a beginner! When we play this dance I am immediately transported back to the happy atmosphere and friendly people we met there.
The original dance was in the Castle Menzies manuscript of 1749 with no music. The original RSCDS published tune Lord Eglintoune has generally been abandoned for the more popular alternative of Lady Montgomery, perhaps easier under the fingers but also busy. This tune is a good match for the dance as you are always in constant motion, whether as a fiddler with your fingers and bow, or as a dancer!

Scottish Dance Videos

Our next presentation is a collection of three short films made around 1950 showing three RSCDS dances demonstrated by members of the Scottish Dance Society under the supervision of Miss Jean Milligan.
These films were part of a teaching series aimed at showing correct steps and SCD patterns and give explanations of the steps and formations plus a complete demonstration of each dance. The two piano accompaniment was provided by Daisy Badger and Hilda Stephenson. Do you recognise any of the dancers?
Film 1 - The River Cree (RSCDS Book 8:5) - a jig
Film 2 - The Rakes of Glasgow (RSCDS Book 11:11) - a strathspey
Film 3 - Mrs MacLeod (RSCDS Book 6:1) - a reel
Thanks again to Peter Knight and to Meryl and Ian Thomson for sourcing and making available these lovely films.
With thanks to Thelma-Jane Robb who,created the puzzle. This week she has provided a 'Spot the Difference' puzzle - scroll down and enjoy!. 
This was a Burns Ceilidh at Pont Street if I remember correctly. Thanks Thelma for a memory of a lovely evening.

I've managed to spot just three differences so far so am looking forward to seeking out the rest and then learning the answers next week.

NHS advice on keeping yourself well:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Government advice here:
RSCDS Blog here:

We look forward to dancing with you soon.
Copyright © 2020 RSCDS London Branch, All rights reserved.

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