Pieces of Eight: A new dance for an old tune

During the Covid-19 lockdown, our tutor Rod Downey’s mind turned to writing dances.

John Markham’s Rant incorporated movements inspired by Ann Campbell’s dance The Dancing Bells. The Great Teddy Bear Hunt was inspired by seeing all the teddy bears in the windows while out walking.

Pieces of Eight grew out of The Great Teddy Bear Hunt and was a simplification of the movements in that dance, which in turn came out of a mental exercise to devise a dance with the only formation being figures of eight.

Rod wrote Pieces of Eight as a jig and was searching for suitable music, when he discovered Peter Elmes had written a hornpipe tune called Pieces of Eight. The idea of using a tune by Peter really appealed. Plus the tune already had a Johnsonville connection, as it was written in 1984 for Aline Homes’ dance Long John Silver

Peter’s tune wasn’t recorded. Rod asked Aileen Logie if she could record herself playing the tune so he could see if it suited the dance. Aileen played it as a hornpipe but also tried ‘jiggifying’ it to see how that would work.

In the end Rod’s dance remained as a jig and Peter gave his permission for use of the jig version of his tune.

On 15 June, the first Monday of dancing after the lockdown, Johnsonville Club danced the world premiere of Pieces of Eight. As a special treat, Aileen Logie had brought her accordion along to club and played Pieces of Eight – the jig version of Peter Elmes’ 1984 hornpipe tune.

Aileen Logie played the jig version of Pieces of Eight at the first night of dancing following the Covid-19 lockdown

It was a fun dance to do, manageable even at the end of our first dancing night in three months. Thanks to Rod, Aileen and Peter as well as Aline Homes for inspiring Peter’s original hornpipe tune.

from Kristin Downey
19 June 2020

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