In July we held our fourth annual pool party at the Hobgood's. We didn't have as many people this year as we have had in the past. However it was a nice day for the event and we had an enjoyable time swimming, dancing and socializing.
Our luck ran out for our annual dance in the Sunken Garden at Allerton Park. We had just gotten started and had done a couple of dances when the rain began. It didn't rain hard and the dancers could have continued. However rain is not good for musical instruments, especially wooden ones with strings, so we called it a day and headed home. We discussed the possibility of trying to schedule a dance at Allerton in the spring. Unfortunately the Sunken Garden is booked on all of the Sundays in May so we will be holding a dance at the Crystal Lake Park in Urbana instead.
Our October dance was an experiment in a couple of ways. We decided to try holding a dance on a Friday evening, when there wasn't a contra dance, and since it was just before Halloween we made it a costumed dance. Turnout at the dance was excellent and everyone had a good time. We'll be trying another dance on a Friday evening again this spring. We'll schedule it to start at 8:00 instead of 7:00, in the hopes that this will work better with everyones' schedules on a weekday evening.
Another experiment we tried this fall was to do a dance with no prompting. In the eras that these dances were originally done they rarely, if ever, had prompting. The people knew the dances, either because they took classes and memorized the popular dances or because their village only did a small number of dances which everyone learned as they were growing up. While trying to get everyone to memorize the dances is probably an unreasonable goal, it does seem to be reasonable to try to reduce the dancers' reliance on prompting. Thus we did a dance in November where we walked it through a couple of times, then just started the music and everyone danced. Some of the benefits from this are an increase in the dancers' awareness of how the figures in the dance fit together, thus making their dancing smoother and making them better able to handle any problems that may arise. Also it allows the dancers to hear, and better appreciate, the music that the musicians spend so much time on. This experiment worked out amazingly well and we will be trying it again in the future.
In September and October the Flatland Consort, along with Jane Hobgood, Patricia Moffitt and Jonathan Sivier, participated in a period wedding and an evening of dancing at the Lincoln Log Cabin Historical Site, just south of Charleston. While the period being recreated there, the 1840's, is a bit later than most of the dances we are interested in, it still ties in pretty well to what we do. We hope that this association will lead to further interest in our group and future collaborations that will be beneficial to both organizations.
Our Christmas Ball in 1999 was very succesfull. We all felt that the quality of dancing was the best that we have seen. Our mummers' play went more smoothly this year. Many thanks to everyone who participated and to John and Susan Hanson for providing costumes and props.
Like any other small, non-profit organization, money is always a concern in our group. If you are on our mailing list and are no longer interested in receiving our mailings, please let me know so we can save the costs of printing and postage.
Saturday, January 22: Dance from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Springer Cultural Center.
Sunday, February 20: George Washington's Birthday Dance and Tea Party, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. at the Springer Cultural Center. This dance will feature early American dances from the Colonial and Revolutionary eras.
Sunday, March 19: Dance from 3:00-5:00 p.m. at the Springer Cultural Center.
Friday, April 14: Dance from 8:00-10:00 p.m. at the Springer Cultural Center.
Saturday, May 6: Dance from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Springer Cultural Center.
Sunday, May 21: Dance in Crystal Lake Park in Urbana. Picnic from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., dancing from 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 3: Our Playford Ball from 7:00-11:00 p.m. at a location to be announced.