Hints and Tips for SCD - Running a dance
See also the section on putting together a programme for the dance.
Before the dance
- Before deciding on a date, try to find out what else is happening around the time of the dance
so you don't clash. If you clash with another similar event both events are likely to suffer.
- Book your band and hall well in advance - I tend to reckon about a year in advance here in Edinburgh.
It can be done in less time, but be prepared for a large phone bill.
- When booking the hall, remember the band will need about an hour to set up at the start
and half-an-hour to an hour to pack away at the end.
- The band needs to know the programme a couple of months in advance so they can prepare sets for
the dances, look up the music for dances they don't know and so on.
- When telling the band the programme, be sure to tell them how long and what tempo each dance
is (eg 4x32 reel), and if there is anything unusual about it - for instance two chords at the start.
Check also that they can provide a microphone for the MC.
- This means you really need to start thinking about a programme a couple of months before that.
- It is standard to have the programme organised with a couple of fast dances (reel and jig)
followed by a strathspey (or occasionally a medley including a strathspey), then a couple more fast dances and another strathspey,
and so on.
- An evening of 20-or-so dances with an interval of about an hour tends to be good for a 4 hour event.
- It is better to slightly underestimate the number of dances you can get through and put in extras
than to over-run and have to cut dances.
- Try to have have a light dance as the first dance or immediately after restarting (eg after dinner),
unless you are prepared for strained muscles and people disappearing to study their meal again.
A light dance gives people time to warm up gently, doesn't have too much setting and doesn't have everybody
moving all the time.
- A couple of weeks before the dance, get in touch with the band to see whether they have any
last-minute queries (and just make sure they have remembered your event).
On the night
Recapping the dance
If you don't provide crib sheets (sheets summarising the instructions for each dance), you will
probably want to remind people how each dance goes. Here are some recommendations one Branch put
- Prepare beforehand! Be sure you know how the dance goes.
- If you want to dance yourself, find a partner in good time.
- Stand upright, don't slouch.
- Speak loudly, clearly, slowly, looking up towards the dancers and not
down onto a sheet of paper.
- When announcing the dance:
- Give the name of the dance, and say whether it is a jig, reel, etc
and how many bars.
- If the dance is a complex one, suitable for experienced dancers only
mention this. (eg Gothenburg's Welcome.)
- Say how many couples are needed to form a set; specify if the set is
eg square or round the room.
- The first man in each set / each line should count off the couples,
to ensure the sets are complete.
- When recapping the dance:
- It is better to read the description well than to ad lib it badly.
- Give the dance title etc again, and say how many couples dance - eg "Highland Fair is a 32 bar jig for two couples".
- If eg 3rd & 4th couples start the dance on opposite sides, say so and whether or not the music has two chords. (The music used for Lord Huntly's Cave does not.)
- If the cribs are clear, most dances can be "read" almost directly from them (*). If not, write the dance out in your own words beforehand. (* Exceptions to this include dances like JB Milne, which is clearer if the last 16 bars are given first for the dancing couple and then for the supporting couples.)
- Use pauses and intonation to indicate phrasing.
- Where appropriate, add at the end "Repeat from second place" or "Start again with a new top couple".
- Be brief! Give clear and precise instructions, but avoid unnecessary detail. People should know the dance; the recap is just a reminder. In formations where confusion frequently occurs, a little extra detail can be given - eg for a full Strathspey poussette, "starting from the sidelines".
- Get it right the first time - once through only, don't recap the recap. At the end, a very brief reminder of how the dance starts can, however, be helpful.
See also the other hints and tips sections:
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