[SCA-Dance] Fwd: My Beginner's Class from KWDS VIII

David Learmonth david.a.learmonth at gmail.com
Thu Jul 28 06:31:42 EDT 2011

Ok, as expected, my message was too long for this list.  So here it is
again, broken into 2 parts.  This message is the "Intro", and the second
message gets into the list of dances I taught.


---------- Forwarded message ----------

Hi!  At KWDS this year I ran a class called the Beginner's Ball, which had
the goal of trying to take a potential group of absolute beginners (though
we had quite a few ringers at KWDS) through as many dances as feasible in an
hour timeslot, going through varying styles, and giving them the basic
tools to be able to have some fun on the dance floor, while keeping it light
and fun.

At the time though, I unfortunately did not have a notes handout.  So
hopefully this email will give the info people are looking for, and for
those interested in running a similar class.  (I had one wonderful comment
that the class had a good flow / progression to the dances, which is
something I've always tried to focus on when teaching to beginners).  So
here are some notes, and the list of dances I covered, plus a few others I
had in mind but didn't get to.

Introduction to Steps Required (for the first 5 minutes or so):   - Sorry
for the long winded discussion here, I just figured I'd be thorough, for
those who are interested.  Though I certainly wouldn't worry about trying to
memorize what I am saying here, just do what works for you.
 - and if you want, you may want to skip down to the dances below.
 (assuming this all fits in 1 email on this list)
Starting in a circle, I introduced the basic concepts of taking a Single
Left and Single Right, followed by a Double Left and Double Right.  You can
briefly introduce the idea / word "close" in using these steps.  This also
gives a chance to introduce the idea that we are  often walking to basic
counts of the beat.  (2 beats for a Single, 4 beats for a Double).
Once we had that, we could then do a Single forward and back, and then a
Double forward and back. (I like this method, so that people have the idea
of how many steps are in a double forward)
One other note here is that sometimes you'll do multiple Doubles forward in
a row.  In this case, you'll put some sort of pause on the 4th beat.  This
could be a small kick, or hop, or raise of foot, or small close. This tends
to vary from dance to dance, and depending on how the music strikes you.
Set and Turn is then a good step to introduce.  I like to count it out as I
go, so that they can see the 8 beats.
I also like to let them know to turn whichever way is most comfortable,
though I tend to find that walking forward over my Left shoulder tends to
feel most natural to me, based on which foot is free.
Oh, and sometimes people will alternate their Set and Turn directions, if
they have to do 2 of them in a dance (i.e. the second one starting to the
Right instead).
>From here, there are only a few other steps I introduce at this point.
 Salterelli (or Salterello singular), is a natural extension of the walking
doubles from earlier.  (or maybe I would do these at the same time). I would
aim to have everyone walk around the circle doing these, so they can get the
idea / get practice, and I can look to see that it is working out.  Counting
out beats is a good idea, and stating the Feet I think helps too, to
reinforce the idea of the pause, and the changing of feet.  (i.e. Left,
Right, Left, Hop; Right, Left, Right, Hop)
Though again, I do like to mention that many dances don't matter too
critically which foot you start on, as long as you don't "draw blood" from
your partners / neighbours.  :)
Final step I like to introduce is a Piva.  I do find that this can be
difficult for new people, so I say that it can take some practice, and not
to worry about getting it perfect, but that your feet will learn the steps
in time.  For those who are trying to figure it out as you go around the
circle with them, I'll offer a few versions.  When first showing it, I do a
slowed down Step, Cut, Step, and then followed by another one starting
with the opposite foot.  But I explain it can sometimes be harder to do
slow, than quicker, where it is almost like skipping.  (or like a cha-cha
step, or a fencer shuffle)

Ok, now onto the dances:  .....

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