Portland AOSA Friday notes

Portland AREA AOSA – OAKE –  Peter & Mary Alice Amidon – Traditional Dance, Song & Storytelling


Blaydon Races in NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk collection
We used ‘Blaydon Races’ from NEDM’s 2010 Revision of the ‘Chimes of Dunkirk’ CD for this. You can also use any jig or  reel medley for this dance. We did this is a mixer, but you might teach it at first without changing partners. We often call this at weddings.  We always start  teaching this, as we do with any circle mixer, by having the dancers promenade and defining the gents/moons/peanut butter/inside partners and the ladies/stars/jelly/outside partners.  We do a version of the dance with K/1 where A1 and A2 are the same.  B1 the children keep on holding two hands with partner and do a long two hand turn to the left. B2 they “open like a book” with partner (hanging on with one hand and letting go of the other) and do a “handy hand” promenade (peanut butter’s right hand in jelly’s left hand).

My Heart Is Ready by Cindy Kallet, arr. P. & M.A. Amidon
Available in the Amidons Online Choral Store
and on their Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs book & companion CD.

Sun  Is In My Heart in NEDM’s I’m Growing Up book/CD/DVD
We find this to be comforting for both us and for the children.

Little Seed – In NEDM’s I’m Growing Upbook/CD/DVD.
We love “the little wait…” in this fingerplay/song. 

Hunt the Cows – in NEDM’s Rise Sally Rise book and CD.
Preschool and Kindergarten children will request this over and over.  Young children love and need “floor time”, and they love any activity that alternates between lying on the floor and jumping up and down.  Sleeping Bunnies from NEDM’s I’m Growing Up is another great floor time/jumping singing game.  I introduce “Hunt the Cows” with a story about Eliza, whose only job is bringing the cows back from the field, but it always happens at the time of the day where she is very sleepy.

Head & Shoulders – in NEDM’s Rise Sally Rise book & CD.
I start by having the children clap on the word “baby” to help them get them clapping on the offbeat. Our friend dance caller/music educator John Krumm learned this version from the children at a Philadelphia area elementary school; he discovered that the teachers at the school knew the singing game from when they were children in the same school.

Thorn Rosa – in NEDM’s Rise Sally Rise book & CD
You can tell this as a story, punctuated by the verses of the song, or as a singing game. “Thorn Rosa” is a commonly known German children’s song version of “Sleeping Beauty”.  I believe the English translation and singing game are from the Berea Kentucky traditional music community.

Dance Teaching  Tips: Mittens; front of your mitten on the front of your neighbor’s mitten, thumb lightly on back; take hands drop hands take hands drop hands; posture; teach the forward separately  from the back in the forward and back, and describe it at first as “tiptoe”; :shake and take” for teaching promenade; while promenading: inside person is the moon/peanut butter/gent,  outside is the star/jelly/lady; four steps of making a circle from a  promenade: “Hang on to partner stop walking, hang on to partner face the center, drop hands, take hands.”; many ways of keeping the circle big and round on circle left and right; dosido (gents start on inside, ladies start going outside) flowing into two hand turn flowing into promenade; when music starts clapping the first of each 8 beats; doing the dance with your hands; “thick” calling, then “thin” calling then no calling; saying the call right before the ‘clap’ or before the first beat of  the phrase and figure.

La Bastringue  In NEDM’s Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD
This simple circle/partner dance can be easily adapted for younger children.  Have them circle left hold hands straight across, then “open like a book” into a promenade holding “handy hands” (gent’s right and lady’s left) (as described in “Blaydon Races” above).

Fox – in Amidons’ Song in My Heart book & CD
Great song for introducing with, and alternating verses with a story. Also, this is, well, a great song!

Country Life – in Amidons’ Song in My Heart book & CD
We learned this from the Waterson family whose renditions of traditional songs from the Yorkshires of England has had a great influence on our singing.  This was one of our “anthems” when Mary Alice and I were music teachers leading a weekly all school sing in a Brattleboro Vermont public elementary school.

Now It’s Time to Go – in Amidons’ Song in My Heartd book & CD
Here is a recording, made in 1987, of our son Sam, then six, singing this with us in the studio.

      Seed in the Ground
 by Connie Kaldor
This is a great song for all ages sung, as written, unisdon with guitar or piano.  We also did my SSAA arrangement which, of course, can be done simply as a unison/piano arrangement and is availabl

Chiney Doll – in Song in My Heart book & CD
We learned this version from the great ballad singer from the Ozarks of Missouri, Almeddda Riddle. This is a great song to introduce with a story. There is a terrific picture book of this story, probaby out of print: Mommy, Buy Me a China Doll by Harve and Margot Zemach.

Turn Around – in our Online Choral Store
I have done this with 2nd graders, playing a simple accompaniment on guitar, and having one of the students sing the beginning of the song as a solo.  They performed this for their parents and it was quite affecting.  The piano/unison arrangement we did is available on our Online Choral Store.  Here is the Kodac commercial from the early 1960’s that introduced many of us to this song.

Seed in the Ground – in Song in My Heart book & CD
What a great song – children inhale it!  The full piano SSAA arrangment is available in our Online Choral Store

Silver Rain – in Song in My Heart book & CD – a cappella SATB arrangement in both Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith & Communiy Choirsbook & CD, and in our Online Choral Store.

Alabama Gal – in Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD
Teach this as an a cappella singing game before trying with the CD which, as you found out,  goes pretty fast.  Here is a quick way to teach the cast-off-under-the-arch figure:
* In a demonstration longway set have top and bottom couples remain where they are and the other dancers move out of the way.  The Top gent, by himself, casts alone to the left, skipping down and back up through the arch.  Then the Top lady, alone, does the same thing, casting to the right.  Then they both cast at the same time, taking one hand with partner before going under the arch and back to place.  Then have the other dances come back into place, and simply have all of the dancers follow the Top gent and the Top lady, single file in a cast, skipping down, and taking partner’s hand before going under the arch and back to place.
* When the top couple sashays down and back, have the dancers follow the phrasing of the music, not necessarily stopping at the bottom of the set, but sashaying down right past the bottom of the set until the music tells them to sashay back up to the top.
* SKIPPING! Demonstrate skipping.  Have different students demonstrate skipping, while the other students say what they like about their colleagues’ skipping.  Look for relaxed skipping, hands swinging by sides, skipping to the beat.
* Encourage students to, as a group, time the skipping cast off figure so that it ends just as the phrase ends.

Grand March – in Sashay the Donut book and CD
The main figure I taught you: F & B, Circle L & R, Allemand L Ptnr, All. R Neighbor, Dosido Ptnr, Seesaw Neighbor, is the chorus.  The verses are the other figures you can do that all take the dancers out of the circle formation: the spiral, the promenade up the middle, cast off, meet partner at bottom and come up middle holding handy hands, then all peel off, couples going alternatingly to right and left, meet another couple at bottom and come up in fours, peel of in alternating directions in fours, meet other group of four at bottom and come up in eights, stop at the top and the left hand dancer in the front line pull line to the left and pick up, one at a time, the other lines until you are in a single line which then becomes a circle again….back to the chorus.  I also taught the arching over the promenade.  One couple becomes the lead couple and when promenading in the Chorus, the Lead couple stops, drop hands, turn single, take and raise inside hands in an arch, and start walking the arch back over the other promenadeing dancers.  (Other dancers follow suit.)

Sellinger’s Round
Here is Brad Foster teaching this dance, from John Playford’s 1661 “The English Dancing Masters”.  They do a different kind of siding than I taught.  Here is the version of siding that I taught.

Larry’s Mixer In NEDM’s Listen to the Mockingbird”.
We used the cut “Cheris” from NEDM’s “Other Side of the Tracks” CD, which is the band “Assembly”, a quartet that includes  our two sons Sam (fiddle) and Stefan (percussion). You can certainly do this dance to more traditional jigs and reels, but we find that this dance can have a sublime “Historic English County Dance” feel (think Jane Austen) when done to more flowing and elegant music.


Highland Gates in NEDM’s Down in the Valley collection
This is a great dance for opening a community dance. Folks can join in the dancing as they straggle in.

Bobolinka in Rise Sally Rise collection
A great singing game for introducing elements of longways set dancing to children.  I can be followed by ‘Kindergarten Reel’ (in ‘Listen to the Mockingbird’) and a simple version of ‘Virginia Reel’ (in ‘Chimes of Dunkirk’).

The Noble Duke of York This is in NEDM’s Rise Sally Rise book & CD and in NEDM’s  Alabama Gal book/CD/DVD.
I added the up, down halfway up and jumping movements that the rest of the dancers do while the top couple sashays down the middle and back.  My favorite moment is when the top couple’s sashay back up the middle turns into a skipping cast off just as the other dancers land from their jump and, skipping, follow the lead couple in the cast off.

Chimes of Dunkirk in Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD.  There is also a Chimes of Dunkirk DVD.
Dudley Laufman fashioned this terrific classic family dance out of a Belgian couple dance.  I almost always start an evening elementary school community dance with this; the clapping and stamping help keep the dancers together.

Heel & Toe Polka in Chimes of Dunkirk book & CD (& DVD)
This is my go-to first mixer for first graders, and even Kindergarteners.  Omit right hand turn and go directly from the clapping to pass right shoulders onto a new partner.  When teaching this with young children, I stand by each couple individually, one couple after another, as they pass right shoulders to make sure they do it correctly the first time.  The second time I have them all do it at once.

Here is Mary Alice’s picture book/music bibliography
which I neglected to include in the Friday handout.  I did include it in the Saturday handout.  If you cannot print it from this link send me an email <amidonpeter@gmail.com> and I will email you a pdf of the bibliography.

     I Live In Music Try this with some other kinds of music.

  Summertime – simply sing the song with this wonderful book.

     Madeline I love the artwork in this classic classic.

Eye of the Needle – Mary Alice learned this from a picture book.  She made up the songs.  Here is Mary Alice’s version of the story.

Eli, Eli – piano/SATB arrangement available in our Online Choral Store.
I learned this in 1990 to do with my Brattleboro Music Center Children’s Choir (agest 8 – 12).  They sang it in unison to my piano playing.

Circle Waltz Mixer In NEDM’s  Sashay the Donut collection.
Teaching the Circle Waltz Mixer
Dancing the Circle Waltz Mixer
I apologize for not teaching this very well on Friday.  We did it again on Saturday with more success. We used ‘In Continental’ Waltz from the ‘Sashay’ CD  for the music. This is a wonderful dance for a wedding  where you can do it the original way we learned it, doing  a short waltz instead of the two hand turn.  In the original  dance gents are the “posts” and women are the “twirlers”, but it works perfectly fine in a non-gender community  dance with a two hand turn.  Here are some tips to for teaching this dance:
Start by having everyone promenade. Tell all the inside (left hand) partners they are “posts” and all the outside (right hand) partners they are “twirlers”.
All look at partner and say “goodbye”.
Posts stay in place and keep their feet planted during the “twirl” figure.
Carefully teach the first “twirl” each “Post” does with their left hand neighbor, from left to right.
Once the dancers get that twirl, the rest of the dance can go pretty smoothly.

*       *

Ah day one is over, but we can’t wait to dance & sing with most of you again tomorrow!


Peter (and Mary Alice)