BackWhat makes a dance difficult?

First used at my House Party Weekend in November 2016.

In 1993 I edited a small magazine for EFDSS and in the second issue delivered what I thought was a witty aphorism: “There are no difficult dances, just difficult dancers”.  Brian Dann, a caller from Kent, thought I was serious and wrote a letter taking me to task for this unwarranted attack.  I was joking, but it's an interesting question: What makes a dance difficult?  Is it the dance itself, or the dancers' perception of it, or what?  In this session I'll start with some suggestions, then throw some dances at you in the hopes that you can tell me whether they're “difficult”, and what makes them so.

Pat Shaw said:

There was a time when it was said that any dance that was difficult was therefore a bad dance.  With this I cannot agree.  The merits of a dance have nothing to do with its difficulty and it is only when the difficulties have been mastered that we can really judge its quality.  There is a certain satisfaction, intellectual perhaps but none the less genuine, in getting to grips with the problems and overcoming them; and this satisfaction becomes total when the dance is so well known that it can be performed as effortlessly as the simplest party dance.  Providing the end product justifies the hard work involved and providing the social atmosphere in the learning stages is good, the toil and effort can actually contribute to the pleasure and not become mere drudgery.

I asked the question of the ECD List and got lots of answers.  It was also suggested that I should separate the dance itself from other factors.

Other factors

The dance itself

And of course some would disagree with Pat Shaw's quote at the start.

All too often, I suspect, most of us have worked hard to learn a difficult dance and have felt, at the end, that it wasn't worth it.  And some dances are difficult, period.  The merits of a dance are related to its difficulty because we invest time in learning dances and some don't feel like good investments…

There is a further complication that you may have very few opportunities actually to get the reward of having learned a difficult dance.  I would be delighted to dance “Dutch Crossing” if I happened to be at an event with 31 other dancers who all knew the dance well enough that it would require no more teaching than the average dance — I love the crossing figure — but that has never happened.  I hope I get more chances to do “The Amazed Geneticist” and “Kingscombe Rejuvenated” that don't require that they be taught from the beginning, and I don't see that as very likely.

My thanks to members of the ECD List for all their suggestions.