Christmas Country Dance School

2008 Class Descriptions

Period I 9:00 – 10:00

  1. Contras with A Twist (A)
    These contras will thrill and challenge the most experienced contra dancer with wild geography, surprising figures, tricky transitions, and new time signatures.  Each day will feature a crooked contra, a chestnut, an almost impossible dance, and a miscellaneous dance you won’t likely see at home.  No-walkthrough dances will fill in when brains just can’t stand any more boggling.  Not for the faint of heart.
  2. Beginning Rapper Sword (B)
    Have fun learning a traditional linked-sword dance style.  Basic rapper sword stepping, figures, and styling will be covered.  Don’t worry, the swords aren’t sharp!
  3. Scandinavian Dance Basics(B)
    Looking for something new and different?  This class will introduce you to the richness and variety of the dance and music of Scandinavia.  All of the dances taught in class incorporate turning of some sort.  Key themes of the class include developing balance both alone and as part of a dancing couple and learning techniques for leading and following. In this class we will focus primarily on waltz, schottische, polka, mazurka and introduce some of the special regional dances from Norway and Sweden.  Hard soled, low heeled shoes recommended.
  4. Intermediate/Advanced Recorder(I/A)
    This class is for people who can read and play the full range on soprano and/or alto (preferably both).  Experience on tenor and bass is very welcome. The focus will be on dance music from various eras.
  5. Harmony Singing  (U)
    Singing in the Spirit, Spirituals and Gospel from the African American Tradition – Join us as we sing music from the African American folk music tradition.  From traditional Spirituals to rousing gospels, along with a touch of the blues, we will celebrate the songs and stories that have emerged and continue to influence and enhance today’s musical stories.
  6. Woodcarving (U)
    Use your artistic skills to carve pendants, pins, spoons, spatulas or spreaders. We will focus on basic carving principles and techniques as well as carving safety. Carving tools and other materials will be provided.
  7. Beginning Clogging (B)
    This class will cover the basics of traditional solo flatfoot freestyle dancing as well as several beginning step sequences from the more contemporary style. We will also learn to dance with a partner using several  hoedown figures and movement patterns with clogging footwork. This fun class is not to miss and will put you well on your way to being a great clogger and time keeper.

Period II 10:15 – 11:15

  1. Advanced English Country Dance  (A)
    Style, dance technique and figures for advanced dancers. The range of dances will include old Playford classics reconstructed by Cecil Sharp to new compositions by Gary Roodman, Fried Herman, Colin Hume and more, including complex challenges as well as old favorites. Several years dancing experience and familiarity with all standard figures is required.
  2. Intermediate English Country Dance (I)
    For those who knowbasic English Country Dance figures and are familiar with some of the standard dances.  We will build repertoire, stressing style and nuance, and will “Nail” some favorite “Chestnuts”!
  3. Beginning English Country Dance (B)
    This class will introduce dancers to English Dancing, stressing social pleasure, basic recurring figures and style. Through easy dances, we will progressively build a repertoire during the week. Basic waltz will also be taught.
  4. Advanced Morris  (I/A)
    The morris dance in 19th century Gloucestershire thrived in the vicinity of a handful of tourist attractions; Bledington, down the hill from popular Cotswold destination Stowe-on-the-Wold, is typical. After 30 years of research into the intricacies of the dances of Bledington (where the dancing ended almost 100 years ago), our instructor has finally agreed to divulge the results.
  5. New England Fiddle (I/A)
    “Repertoire and Techniques”
  6. Square Dance Calling (U)
    Anyone can call a square – hands-on ways to make it enjoyable for the caller and the dancers.
  7. Basketry, Session One ($10 material fee payable at class) (U) 
    Students will be able to choose from traditional or non-traditional styles of baskets. All baskets will be small enough to finish in class time and some students may have time to make more than one.  We will be using local basket materials gathered and processed by the instructor.
  8. Intermediate/Advanced Clogging (I/A)
    This class is for the clogger who would like to add some variety to their step repertoire. We will use syncopation and polyrhythms to challenge each dancer. We will use both freestyle and precision steps along with improvisation as exercises. Be prepared to have fun and work hard!

Period III 11:30 – 12:15

Morningsong & Stories
This is a time for the entire CCDS community to gather together for music and fellowship. Participants are welcome to share songs or stories, or just come for the joy of singing together.

Period IV 2:00 – 3:00

  1. Fun & Easy Contras (B/I)
    New and experienced dancers will find a fun and well-paced welcome to contra dancing and learn a variety of  figures.  The focus will be on dancing with a few style points mentioned along the way.  Discover the fun of dancing together with friends and wonderful music.
  2. Kentucky Set Running (I)                
    These “Sets” are the traditional squares that evolved in the hills of Eastern Kentucky and the surrounding region.  Usually danced in small circles of 4-6 couples, the figures can be easily followed without formal teaching, thereby letting the dancers focus on the fun and satisfaction of dancing together.
  3. Scandinavian Dance (I)
    Want to Hambo?  Are there more dances like the Hambo?  Some waltz variations? How about a schottische with a “wrinkle”? Again, all of the dances taught in class incorporate turning. We will build upon the key themes introduced in the basics class.  This class will delve further into the richness of the dances of Norway and Sweden.  The skills used for these dances are applicable to many other dance forms.  Hard soled, low heeled shoes recommended.
  4. Beginning Dance Band (B)
    We’ll explore a variety of contra dance tunes and styles and discover what makes dancers want to move.  In between playing, we’ll develop creative and exciting arrangements.  Learning by ear will be encouraged.
  5. Advanced Dance Band Bonanza! (I/A)
    For intermediate and advanced musicians.  We’ll play reels, jigs and waltzes and discover what makes dancers want to move.  In between playing tunes, we’ll develop creative and exciting arrangements, working with both melody and rhythm players to find what works best for dancing.  Expect to learn by ear, but sheet music will be provided.  We will prepare and practice material to play for late-night dance parties, and attendance at both is encouraged.
  6. Beginning Storytelling  (B)
    Everyone has a story to tell! Using classic fairytales as models, participants will learn to recognize the magical moments in their lives and turn them into stories. The class will have fun becoming the heroes in their own tales and learning easy tools to help them remember and tell their personal tales.
  7. English Callers Workshop (I/A)
    For intermediate and experienced teachers of English dance. Topics will include dance programming, teaching figures and steps, working with beginners and mixed-experience crowds, working with your band, stage presence and crowd control. There will also be time for practice teaching.
  8. Beginning Temari Craft  ($10 material fee payable at class) (B)
    Temari is an ancient Japanese handcraft of first thread-wrapping a ball and then embroidering colorful designs across the surface.  You will learn to create the base, some basic stitching techniques and different patterns that can open up endless design possibilities.
  9. Mummers Play (U)
    Join Kent Gilbert as we form a merry group to produce an improvised New Year’s eve play in the mumming tradition. Bad jokes, wicked wit, and satirical humor are the order of the day in this Christmas School tradition. No acting experience necessary. Sense of humor required.
  10. Advanced Rapper Sword (I/A)
    Wild abandon, fleet feet, flashing swords and flat-out tempos are the cornerstones of the sword dance of the Northumbrian mining towns. One of the oldest, longest-lived and best documented of these dances is that from the town of Winlaton; the style and figures from the 1950’s Winlaton dancers will be our basis. Even truly advanced topics, such as slowing down time, may be addressed. This class will be ideal for those wishing to improve their technical grasp of rapper, but a poor choice for anyone hoping for a peaceful afternoon.

Period V 3:15 – 4:15

  1. Squares For All  (U)
    Squares for all – squares from different traditions and styles – making your square tight and fun.
  2. Irish Set Dances (U)
    Irish sets are the quadrilles (square dances) as they developed in Ireland: fast-paced with lively music. We will be dancing the sets of Cork and Kerry counties which are danced to polkas, slides and hornpipes. Both old favorites and some lesser known gems will be on the program. Beginners are welcome and encouraged to come join the fun.
  3. Appalachian Square Dance
    Old time dancing in the style of one Southwest Virginia Community.
  4. Methods of Teaching Turning Dances  (U)
    “Hmm, it worked with that partner, but now I need help”.  What are the things that make the dances feel good?  How do we introduce people to turning alone as well as connected with a partner? We’ll explore methods of teaching turning including how the music can help us, experiments in learning and likely a Scandinavian Dance Olympics session.  We will be dancing in this session. Bring dance shoes, something to take notes, your ideas and questions.
  5. Contra Dance Calling (U)
    Learn how to help others experience the joy of contra dancing.  All levels are welcome to attend and try a bit of calling, share techniques, and discuss philosophy!  If you’ve always wanted to call a dance, this class is for you.
  6. Shape Note Singing (U)
    Kent Gilbert leads this experience of a wonderful American four-part a capella tradition! “Shaped” notes refers to the different shapes given to various notes on the staff, designed to help singers learn tunes in glorious harmony. No prior experience or knowledge of music is necessary (but helpful) as we sing from the “The Sacred Harp” a collection of tunes both old and new in the tradition.
  7. Intermediate Storytelling (I/A)
    Designed for (but not limited to) folks who are already writing and/or telling stories, this workshop will help participants to find their own unique perspectives and voices and hone their skills. Participants are encouraged to bring a story or idea for a story to work on with Jim. Agenda for the week will be customized based on the needs of the students.
  8. Intermediate Temari Craft  ($10 material fee payable at class) (I)                
    Ready to take temari to another level?  You will learn a more complex division of the ball that will lead to even more intricate and fascinating designs.   This class is suitable for people who have had the Beginning Temari class at Dance School or who have learned temari basics elsewhere.
  9. Basketry, Session Two ($10 material fee payable at class) (U) 
    Students will be able to choose from traditional or non-traditional styles of baskets. All baskets will be small enough to finish in class time and some students may have time to make more than one.  We will be using local basket materials gathered and processed by the instructor.
  10. English Country Dance in All Its Variety (U) 
    From old classics to recent compositions, raucous traditional/ceilidh style to gentle and smooth, longways to circles to odd formation, this class will present the great diversity found in English country dance.  For all levels.

Period VI 4:15 – 5:15

      Jam Time / Free Time

Period I 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

  1. Contras with A Twist (A) 
    These contras will thrill and challenge the most experienced contra dancer with wild geography, surprising figures, tricky transitions, and new time signatures.  Each day will feature a crooked contra, a chestnut, an almost impossible dance, and a miscellaneous dance you won’t likely see at home.  No-walkthrough dances will fill in when brains just can’t stand any more boggling.  Not for the faint of heart.

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