FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What do you mean by 'Community Dances'?
We mean dances in which people dance together as a group.
is partner focussed, with little interaction with other couples apart
from trying not to crash into them. Modern dancing (post-twist) tends
to dispense with partners almost entirely, so a dance floor could be
full of people dancing solo by themselves, almost oblivious to each
imply interaction not only with a partner (where appropriate), but with
other couples too. A lot of the dances are in formations such as
circles, squares and longways sets, and some are just random couples.
Some require no partners, and in most of the ones that do, we don't
insist that boys have to dance with girls (they'll do that anyway in
their own good time!)
This sort of
dancing is variously known as ceili or ceilidh dancing in Ireland and
Scotland, barn dancing in England, hoedown or contra-dancing in USA,
bush dancing in Australia and even folk dancing in educational
institutions and publications. (The folk who live in communities don't
call their dancing 'folk dancing' - only outside observers do!)
You say the dances are 'from around the world'. Just how multi-cultural are they?
We sometimes get
requests from teachers for dances from all sorts of countries and
cultures to tie in with a theme they're studying. We'd love to help but
a lot of countries/cultures don't have the same sort of "community"
dances that we teach. Attempts by us to mimic ritual dances of, say,
Australian Aborigines or Native Americans would probably be culturally
offensive, and not much fun for the kids either! We know very little
about Middle Eastern, Asian or African dances. Your best bet is to take
advantage of native peoples in your community - a parent perhaps - to
come in to share things like that.
We have taught
community dances since 1982. Our current repertoire includes dances
from England, Scotland, Bohemia (Czech Republic), Italy, Russia and
United States. We also sometimes include dances from France, Belgium,
Switzerland, Sweden, the Balkans and Mexico.
You say 'all music is live'. What do you mean by that?
We are both
musicians, and are very keen to play our part to inspire the next
generation of musicians. Bill remembers his primary school class
teacher, Mr. Coop who played piano for singing, and Mr. Francis at high
school who played guitar in music class, Kath remembers the camp
counsellor who played folk songs on her guitar. Those were the people
who made us want to learn to play. Radio and pop stars were beyond our
reach, people near us made it accessible!
We also believe
that dancing and playing music just naturally go together, so we don't
use recorded music for any of our dances, nor do we use pre-recorded
backing tracks to try to make us sound better than we are!
Kath mostly plays
piano accordion for the dances, Bill plays tambourine, lagerphone,
guitar, sometimes mouth organ, pipe and tabor and small percussion
include at least one singing game or 'play party' which is accompanied
only by the singing of the dancers, so that they can do it themselves
long after we've gone. We have revisited schools a year or more down
the track where kids have performed these again without prompting from
us! We've also watched in lunchtime as little kids learned these dances
from the bigger kids by joining in and copying them. That's the way
these dances were passed on in the old days.
For small schools
(under about 95), what we offer is a single program for the whole
school. We include some things especially for the younger ones, some
just for the bigger ones and some for everyone. If the oldest and
youngest kids are 'buddied' together for some things, that helps a lot
too (not just for the dances - it really helps the school spirit!)
Can you tell me a bit more about the teachers' notes you give?
Because we would
like to see schools adding some of these dances to their regular
programmes, and also to encourage musicians in the community -
teachers, parents, even the bigger kids - to have a go at playing for
dancing, we include not only thorough instructions for all of the
dances we teach, but also simple music - melody line and chords.
So what's the main thrust of "Steps in Time"?
First of all, we
believe that community dances are like games - people do them for the
same reason that people play games - to have fun! So we want the kids
to leave at the end of the session saying "this dancing sure is fun!
I'd like to do more of it!"
Secondly, we hope
some kids will think - "playing music looks a lot of fun, and it
doesn't look that hard - I'd like to have a go!" They will be
We hope this FAQ
has helped to answer your questions about our dance show. To sum up,
"Steps In Time" is an exciting, participatory, educational dance
program. It is unique - it's the only program of its kind to be offered
to New Zealand schools.
To book a "Bill & Kath" school show, contact us by email or phone (details below) or check out the Bookings page.