Christmas Country Dance School

2009 Class Descriptions

Period I 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

  1. Mindbending Contras and More (A)
    For those who want a little more and spice in their dancing experience, we’ll explore some tricky moves, unexpected twists, and challenging timing in a variety of dance formations.
  2. Rapper for Beginners (B)
    Never tried rapper before?  Tried it or want another chance to “get it”?  Come to this class and learn some classic short-sword moves along with a few more challenging figures to get the blood flowing (not literally we hope)!  This class will be paced according to the desire of the participants and will build towards creating a satisfyingly brisk dance to perform on the Morris tour.  Some stepping experience is helpful though not essential.  Hard soled shoes preferred.
  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. 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.
  5. Intermediate/Advanced Recorder (I/A)
    For people with facility on the instrument and ability to read music.  We’ll enjoy some of the most beautiful music ever written by playing vocal ensemble music that fits without alteration on recorders.  Included are Renaissance chansons, Appalachian folk tunes, a Ladino song, chorales, madrigals, motets & masses ’from Josquin to Brahms,’ emphasizing interpretation and aspects of technique that enhance intonation, expression, and quality of sound.
  6. Harmony Singing (U)
    An opportunity to develop harmony singing in an informal but informative way! Aubrey and Elwood will present intuitive, by-ear techniques to work out harmony parts, encouraging participants to tap into what they already know about harmony singing.  Aubrey and Elwood will provide simple folk songs to get started and get more complex as the group wishes.  Participants can also bring their own songs and musical questions.   (All Levels)
  7. Long Sword (U)
    The sword dance from the village of Escrick, North Yorkshire, was no longer being danced when Cecil Sharp collected and notated it from surviving dancers. It has several charming features: a cumulative clash and roll, brisk over and under figures, a variety of locks, a surprise ending, and refreshing brevity when compared to some other Yorkshire sword dances. Sometimes one actually knows the source and evolution of information. This is one instance: in 1975 I learned the dance from Nibs Matthews who learned it from Douglas Kennedy, who danced in Sharp’s performance groups. Come to sword dance class and add your name to the continuum.
  8. 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 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

  1. Advanced English Country Dance (A)
    For dancers who are familiar with basic English figures and can dance with a minimum of teaching and walk-throughs.  We’ll enjoy some old favorites as well as challenging new material.
  2. Intermediate English Country Dance (I)
    Style, dance technique and figures for those who already know basic English Country Dance figures and are familiar with some of the standard dances. The range of dances will include old classics to new compositions.
  3. Beginning English Country Dance (B)
    In this class, the fun and sociability of the dances will be stressed, combining with skill in recurring basic figures, to build a beginning repertoire.  The fundamentals of the waltz will also be taught.
  4. Morris Dancing (U)
    Morris dancing is an exuberant, traditional, display dance form which was first collected in England and described in any detail in the early 1900’s. There are now teams performing old and new dances all over the world. This class will introduce beginners to the basic concepts and patterns of the dance form, and allow old hands to learn at least one new dance. The dance is an ensemble piece, with a succession of patterns and contrasting dynamics providing interest, rather than displays of athletic prowess. No experience necessary. Rubber-soled shoes or sneakers recommended.
  5. Calling Contras and Squares (U)
    If you’ve ever considered calling a dance, have been calling for years, or perhaps are just curious how callers think, this class will meet your needs.  Cis will offer good grounding in the basics of dance calling, fine points about how to improve your skill, and plenty of “flight time” to practice in a supportive setting.
  6. Harmonica (B/I)
    Participants will learn how to play notes, chords, and tunes on the ‘C’ harmonica.  We will also explore two positions on the harmonica:  straight and blues styles.  Harmonicas will be available for $7 or students may bring their own.  This class is for Beginner/Intermediate.
  7. Basketry, Session One ($10 material fee payable at class) (U)
    The first session will be a rectangular reed basket with short handles.  Approximate size: base 8 in x 14 in, height 9 in.  The size can be adjusted, if need be, for travelers.  A variety of dyed reed will be available for students to choose from to create their own designs.
  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 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

  1. 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 1:45 – 2:45 p.m.

  1. English Dancing for All (U)
    A selection of Gene’s favorites, old and new, lively and stately, that feature superior music, interesting and flowing patterns, and  an opportunity to dance with grace and confidence.
  2. Play Party & Singing Games(U)
    In this class we will explore a variety of play parties and singing games from Appalachia, the American South, and a few from world cultures. Recreational and educational applications will be discussed, and a special focus on the history of the songs and games will be included. Please bring your favorite singing games to share with the class, too!
  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 (I/A)
    For intermediate and advanced musicians.  We’ll learn jigs, reels and waltzes, with an emphasis on ensemble arrangements.  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. Intermediate Storytelling  (Two hours) (I/A)
    For 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 and will include lots of individual focus.
  7. 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.
  8. Mummers Play (U)
    “In comes I!”, or “Room, Room, Give us Room!”, or ”Any Mummers Allowed In?”   All of these opening lines have been used to signal the start of a Mummers’ Play. Midwinter and Christmas was the time of the year for putting on disguises and parading to the big houses to stage these rhymed plays in return for food, drink, or money. Mummers Plays survive in such varied customs as “Mummering” in Newfoundland, the Mummers’ Parade in Philadelphia, and even Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  This class will start with some traditional script ideas and then develop our own, unique  mummers’ play.  No experience necessary.

Period V 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

  1. Snappy Squares from the Nifty 50’s (U)
    In the 1950’s, just before rock ‘n’ roll, square dancing swept the country.  Creativity and innovation were all the rage, and new takes on the simple square dance form were invented every day. Come explore some of these fresh ideas from a bygone age, and see why square dancing was king.
  2. Appalachian Mountain Dancing (U)
    Dancing for everyone is the best way to describe this early American dance style. Taking a variety of forms, this social dance is always a fun time. Many of the figures used in the today’s dances were developed from basic dance figures brought to the Appalachian Mountains by the same mix of settlers bringing log homes, barn raisings, and reasons to dance.
  3. Dancing Further into Scandinavian Dance (A)
    We will continue to develop and refine our turning dance skills while exploring the variety and richness of the dance (and music) of Scandinavia.  Come one, come all.  Bring your hard soled shoes and a spirit of adventure.
  4. Beginning Mountain Dulcimer (B)
    The many possibilities of the mountain dulcimer are part of the beauty of this extraordinary Appalachian instrument. Moving at a comfortable pace, the dulcimer will be approached from a number of angles during this exciting class: singing and playing simple chords, basic tunings, using the traditional noter, strumming and fingerpicking, and any other topics that may “happen” as a result of group chemistry.  Participants will leave the class amazed with themselves and able to play!  Please bring a dulcimer in good playing condition.
  5. Songs of the Carter Family (U)
    Explore the wonders of this early  pioneering American country music group.  We will sing and play a variety of Carter Family songs with simple chord progressions that can be adapted to many instruments.  Bring your voice and the instrument of your choice.  It is helpful to know basic chords.  All voices, instruments, levels.
  6. Intermediate Storytelling  (Two hours, cont.)(I/A)
    For 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 and will include lots of individual focus.
  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. Basketry, Session Two ($10 material fee payable at class) (U)
    The second session will be a less traditional style of basketry.  These baskets will vary in shape and size and be of spoke construction, similar to egg basket styles, with an artistic flare.  They will be no larger than 7 in x 7 in x 7 in in order for us to finish in the time allowed.  We will be using both purchased material as well as some locally gathered material.
  9. Advanced Rapper Sword (I/A)
    Speed, exhilarating jigging (stepping,) and the abandon of dancers who worked hard and played harder are typical of the sword dances of the Northumbrian mining towns. We will learn and perform the Westerhope dance, the 1920s form of a dance earlier called Walbottle by Cecil Sharp, and later called Whorlton or Callerton. Additionally, the dance at Newbiggen-by-the-Sea resulted from the relocation of one of the Westerhope dancers. Key features include a triple jump and double back flip.

Period VI 4:15 – 5:15 p.m.

  • Fun & Easy Contras (B/I)
    Come celebrate this week with me! I will have dances easy enough to give confidence to the most novice dancer and high-spirited enough for the seasoned veteran. Let’s laugh a lot, learn a little and dance in the New Year together.
  • Fun with the Minuet (U)
    Starting in the late 17th century, the Minuet was the pre-eminent couple dance of the Baroque and early Classical periods. Our class will gradually build the skills needed to dance the Baroque minuet.  Along the way we will also dance Minuet country dances, some familiar, as waltz country dances, others obscure.
  • Squares & Odd Formations (U)            
    This class will include a great selection of New England singing squares, old-time patter squares, and odd formations from both contra/square and English ceilidh dance traditions.
  • Intermediate Mountain Dulcimer (I)
    Moving at a comfortable pace, the dulcimer will be approached from a number of angles during this exciting class: singing and playing chords, trying different tunings, using the traditional noter, strumming and fingerpicking, and any other topics that may “happen” as a result of group chemistry.  Please bring a dulcimer in good playing condition.
  • Shape Note Singing (U)
    Kent Gilbert leads this experience of a wonderful American four-part a capella tradition open to new and long-time singers alike. “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.
  • 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.
  • Ontario Step Dance – The Mulligan Jig (U)
    This old-style dance is based on the Ottawa Valley style of Alex Mulligan who developed his particular version of these jig steps while working at logging camps in the early 20th century.  The Mulligan Jig can be enjoyed by all, with or without stepping experience, and is best danced in hard-soled shoes.

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