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So, as it's the Gogs AGM today (which I'm not going to, because it's in Cambridge) and at Thrales practice we've been analysing figures very heavily (all the way down to the minutest detail) ready for DERT. I seem to have spent a lot of time thinking about what I see as making up Gogs style and ridiculously over-analysising something we all do for fun. I thought I record some of these ideas down here (shared some of them with the side, but have spared them some of the detail):

I think one of the major things that sets Gogs apart from the other sides that I've danced with is that the average age is quite young in comparison (the side being based around students). The students also means the side has a greater turnover of members. Yes, there are several people who stay in Cambridge and make for long standing members, but there are also a lot who come along dance with Gogs for a few years and then leave.

Having discussed this with other people outside the side I can see this as being one of Gogs biggest strengths. They have a core of strong dancers practicing regularly, who can give stunning performances and are also able to guide any new comers or anyone less sure of the dances to keep the quality of performances. This is then backed up by a number of us who have been part of that core in the past, but for certain reasons (generally graduating) have left Cambridge. The result is Gogs have access to a phenomenol number of dancers which they can pull back for dance outs as and when they need them. OK this situation takes some looking after as you have to keep the "absent friends" up to speed without alienating anyone who's in the core, but regular practice days aimed at the absent friends seem to help keep this up.

The style is based very much around precision which seems to impress people (contrasts very nicely with the Hunt who's style is far more based around unpredictability which by it's very nature involves a certain level of personal interpretation during the dance rather than having each step clearly defined as Gogs do), combine this with height matching in the sets (about which I've heard many comments on how effective it looks) and you can end up with very spectacular results. It would certainly be difficult to do, but I definitely feel as a performing side Gogs would benefit on working on this further and perhaps even to the point thinking about it when teaching the dances to knew people (ie teach positions based on how a particular new person fits in with the general heights of the rest of the side).

The side also seems to be made up of a small handful of really tall people and lots and lots of quite short people, which if you were going to take it to it's obvious conclusion would mean that the major of the sets should be based around the short people, only using the taller ones for dramatic effect (much as I hate to admit that being one of the taller ones who would be doing a lot less dancing if this were the case).

The real thing that Gogs lack though is any form of audience interaction. Some of the earlier dances have some through dancing on from the audience or running off screaming at them at the end, but a lot of our more recent ones seem to be very inward facing and ignore the audience entirely (I wonder if I even notice the audience half the time with some of our dances). That said I don't have any bright ideas how to get this into our dances. Maybe it's not really a problem. I would still, however, like to see some in there. Then again, I'm not the most active member of the side anymore and it's up to them what they want to do really and if they're happy as is then it seems to work at the moment.

At the end of the day, we do this for fun and that's got to be far more important then picking style apart like this though...


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
8th Mar, 2006 10:15 (UTC)
'The real thing that Gogs lack though is any form of audience interaction. '

It may not be so much that they lack it, but more that you have an abundance of it with Wild Hunt. I'd say that interacting with the crowd directly is the exception rather than the rule: with most sides you just get it from fools and beasts, if any, and the occasional audience participation dance (aka "She's pretty, let's embarrass her"). Most dances can be done as well with no-one watching as with a big audience.

That's me speaking from a Cotswold background, plus NW and assorted other bits, though I appreciate that the freer flowing and less traditional Border tends to be a bit more outward facing.
9th Mar, 2006 23:07 (UTC)
I'd say that interacting with the crowd directly is the exception rather than the rule

Oh yes, I'd certainly agree with that and I wouldn't really say the Hunt had it that much.

A number of the earlier Gogs dances involve coming on/running off screaming from the audience at the beginning/end, which works quite effectly in that respect though and I just think it a shame it seems to have fallen by the wayside with our newer dances.
8th Mar, 2006 17:07 (UTC)
You missed a treat....
9th Mar, 2006 23:04 (UTC)
I know :-)

hmmmm... pancakes!
8th Mar, 2006 21:18 (UTC)
I'm about dying of curiosity here - do you know what happened at the AGM?

I did read through your post, by the way, and agree in principle that height matching is a good thing, but only when done for big displays. I think it loses its effect if it's done too frequently, and as you mentioned, you run the risk of losing out on some people being taught certain dances. Moreover, we're already limited enough in what we can dance out on occasion, what with injuries and dislikes and not-confident-enough dancers, I can't see limiting our options even more as a viable option.

Audience interaction is a difficult one. To a certain extent, I think a few of our more recent dances end the way they do as a reaction to being hired to do more stage performances. Running off screaming just doesn't work in that scenario. But to a greater degree, I think it comes down to laziness: it's *difficult* to think of a good ending, and the easy option is just to, well, end. ;-)
9th Mar, 2006 23:14 (UTC)
do you know what happened at the AGM?

Only what I've heard from Lisa, which I can probably summarise (as far as I remember as):

- Lots of navel gazing
- Emma still organiser
- Gina/Naomi dance out organiser (wow! a dance out organiser who'll talk to me - the relief!)
- Alison teacher-type-thing-but-not-actually-teacher-as-we-don't-have-that-position-now
- Rachel something social

Am sure they'll be minutes at some point...
10th Mar, 2006 00:19 (UTC)
Only what I've heard from Lisa, which I can probably summarise (as far as I remember as):...

The meeting was long, and my synopsis of it short. Wasn't sure about the social 'organiser' thing either, meeting got confused as that point (amongst others).

Also, hi, thought I'd contribute to the number of gogs here...

10th Mar, 2006 22:47 (UTC)
Hello, wondered when you'd say something on here.

You're reading what I'm thinking before I get a chance to talk to you about it again though... You must stop doing that! Can't waffle at you effectively if you already know what I'm going to waffle at you about :-P
9th Mar, 2006 10:14 (UTC)
I know what went on because I was there :-) but I can't get LJ to recognise who I am because I don't have an LJ account. Can you guess? ;-)

I agree with the stuff about height-matching, but it's just so difficult to organise all the other aspects of making a good dance without trying to match heights as well. Maybe the answer is for more people to learn things from more positions so they can be more flexible.
Dave Holland [org.uk]
9th Mar, 2006 10:41 (UTC)
I guess you are H. Am I right?

Height-matching for big/important displays is good. It really makes a visual impact. But it takes a ludicrous amount of planning, particularly if danced links are involved, and as you say it really needs more people to know more dances from more positions.
9th Mar, 2006 23:16 (UTC)
Can you guess? ;-)

Given the big clue you've given below, I think I'll go with Dave on this one...

but it's just so difficult to organise

We'll just have to give all the short people stilts (did think about chopping the legs off the tall people, but something told me that wasn't in my best interest...)
9th Mar, 2006 10:44 (UTC)
Yes you're right. How do you get your website address to display when you leave a comment?
Dave Holland [org.uk]
9th Mar, 2006 12:28 (UTC)
Through the magic of http://www.livejournal.com/openid/

I don't think MSN supports it directly. :-( You might be able to make it work if you get an account with myopenid.com or videntity.org and can prod MSN in the right way. Yell if you want a hand.
9th Mar, 2006 14:49 (UTC)
*is scared by amount of gogs on livejournal* I'll never leave a post again for fear of discovery........
9th Mar, 2006 23:19 (UTC)
Livejournal is scary like that...
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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