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Thread: German Dance Tutorials

  1. #1
    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    German Dance Tutorials

    I've always wanted to learn the Schuhplattler and other German folk-dances, but simply don't find such lessons in my area.

    After trying to copy some of the dances from the clips (which only resulted in two broken legs so far ), I was surprised to find that there are some tutorials available on Youtube!

    I've now decided to try and incorporate them into my fitness regiment of skipping, weights and yoga stretching.

    I'd love for others to share anything related to the topic, including tips, experiences, book suggestions, histories, tutorials, recommended clips, music and useful links.

    I have a small collection of folk music with most of the standard songs, so it would also be useful to get suggestions on songs for each tutorial (not all are set to music).

    I'm aiming for an eventual solo performance for my friends and family.
    (Although it may take a while.)

    My thread here is intended for the lone solo dancer, although it would be interesting to hear from people in the German diaspora who are aiming for group dances. Also, if you know of any studios giving German folk dance lessons in SA or across the world, then it would be great to mention them as a resource.

    Here is a my beginning lesson:

    Schuhplattler Tutorial 1


    Viel Spaß!

    PS. It's been my experience that Youtube clips can suddenly disappear from blogs at an alarming rate, so it would be great if somebody could point to a more reliable and fixed source.

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    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    There are more simpler lessons to follow the above (which I'll rather post over time), but one of my favorite dances to watch are the various routines of the Holzhacker (The Lumberjack).

    However, my aim is to include some cultural dance moves as part of daily fitness, so I'll rather leave the axe and the saw in the garage for now ... but one day perhaps.
    Well, here are some steps.
    The tutorial is instructed by Kurt Josef Hauptmann (who appears to instruct most of the Youtube tutorials).

    Holzhacker - Tutorial


    Here is a seasoned dance troupe performing the Holzhacker, for those unfamiliar with the music and style:

    Holzhacker - Group Performance




    Unfortunately the tutorials seem mainly for male dancers and steps, so the ladies are welcome to add specific tutorials for their gender.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    Just trying the first sequence of the Haushammer steps in Tutorial 1 above is proving quite challenging, and some advice would be to draw little stick men and first only to focus on the feet.
    Stills would actually be quite useful.

    What's a bit confusing is a quick change in foot posture that comes across as a change in leg position. This reminds me that the dance is partly based on percussive footwork, like step-dancing. However, I won't sweat the small stuff for now.

    Just how percussive the footwork can be is shown in this clip, for example:

    Haushammer - Percusive foot work


    However, as a solo performance piece for a novice the eventual arm and leg moves should suffice to impress.

    What's also striking is the upright, proud posture, no matter what the body type may be - it's not a dance for hunched shoulders or clenched postures.

    That's my very limited advice, as I try to sort my left foot from my right.

    Cool sequence from tutorial 1 for starters that fits to the Haushammer music here (starting with right foot stomp and slight left foot lift)
    Right stomp, right stomp
    right/left/right right
    repeat.

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    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    I think I've got the first sequence from Tut 1. The hands change from holding the clothing, to an upright position (because they're going to slap the upper legs).

    hands on chest:
    right stomp, right stomp
    hands in the air:
    right/left/right right
    slap/slap.

    The slaps seem to occur almost simultaneously with the stomps, and the left leg is slapped first with the left hand, and then the right hand slaps the right leg.

    Sounds easy, but doing it repetitively still takes some practice!

    The nice thing is that these steps can be done to almost any of the Schuhplattler music (although I'd choose something with a mellow tempo), and at least a sympathetic family member told me repeating this short sequence already looks quite authentic (especially if you manage to suddenly hop instead of stomping it).

    Posture cannot be stressed enough I think, as many of these dances were for courtship and impressing the opposite sex, and the hands in the air to me resemble the antlers of a stag. So there's a lot to practice, and no repetition should slouch.

    Even a simple sequence like this stomping gives me a clue to what will follow.
    What baffles the viewer is that just as the mind is expecting a repetition, there's a sudden double move.
    Think fast!

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    Senior Member Mööv's Avatar
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    Focus on the sounds that are produced when slapping a different part of the leg (or stomping). Then just try to improvise on different tunes and rhytms. Once you get the feel of the sound and rhytmic it`s just practice to get the tempo steady and gaining speed. It`s far better to learn that way than to follow instruction when to do what.
    Lieber tot als Sklave!

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    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    Thanks for that.

    I suppose for me exploring some of the sequences might help to get to a freestyle point.

    Just the intro sequence works well to the Haushammer, although the arm lifting and slapping only works as a nice flourish to each verse, for example:

    Haushammer


    Wow, now I'm tired - something to keep practicing, and it's always nice to have a kind of routine to impress out of the blue.

    It's great to do something one has wanted to try for a long time, although it's barely a start.

    (PS. So I find it is possible to work with the clips if one takes it slow.
    Serious dancers might like to watch painstaking repetitions on Youtube, and use the clips here as pointers to prevent constant accidental site hopping and some kind of flood control or "time out".)

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    Senior Member Herr Weigelt's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great videos. I like the fact that the dances and dancers represent German traditional dance, dress, and music at the same time. It looks like a simple dance, but I'm most sure that it takes a lot of practice and once mastered is really enjoyable.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v119/Sabdude/Anglospheresig.jpg
    In hoc signo vinces
    "Get the blacks out of my country." - Queen Elizabeth I

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    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    The Alpine Dancers from Texas have an interesting website with a "dance information" page that lists a selection of Schuhplattler and other traditional dances.
    http://www.alpinedancers.com/

    Most crucially, they include the main Schuhplattler moves as stills, and their recognized codes.

    This page is definitely worth a view, and may make dance notations easier:

    Shuhplattler Figures:

    http://www.alpinedancers.com/dance/S...ures/index.htm

    More generally: So far I've mastered the 1st sequence from Tutorial 1 above.
    Knowing the moves now seems simple, but a difficulty is actually returning to a standstill in line with the beat, because from pop dancing one is used to keep moving, and for folk dancing one must at times resist that urge, and first return to a set position.
    So one must also count the beats when one doesn't move as important, and resist the urge to jerk a leg or arm in line with the music.

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    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    My advice on Tut 1, sequence 2 (the nine-hitter).
    After watching the clip of the sequence a few times on Youtube, here's a few helpful hints.

    Start with the hands in the air (lots of "clapping", which from the hand sequence is simply alternating slapping).
    Hit the left sole with the right hand behind the right leg as beat one.
    Do not put down the left leg until step 7!
    That's really quite important.

    1. left sole slap from right hand (back)
    2. left leg slap from left hand
    3. right leg slap from right hand
    4. left leg slap from left hand
    5. left sole slap with right hand (front, inwards i.e. left sole faces right)
    6. left leg (hip) slap with left hand
    7. lift right leg, right hand slap on right leg.
    8. left hand slap on right leg (bit of a windmill type arm move with open palm clap - look out for the furniture!)
    9. right hand slap on right sole (front, outward i.e. right sole faces right)

    So the kind of percussion beat I get from the claps without the music is something like:

    One
    two three
    Four
    five six
    Seven
    eight nine.
    (repeat)

    The nuances of where to slap (to the front or side of the leg, or torso) come increasingly naturally with repetition.

    The main thing to remember is that that steps 1-6 are about slapping the raised left leg (which remains raised to various degrees), and steps 7-9 are about slapping the raised right leg.

    Watch step 3 (remember to slap the right leg with the same hand) and step 7 (also slap the right leg with the right hand).

    Best to watch the sequence at various speeds on Youtube before this advice makes sense, and it's only useful as prompting for practice repetitions.

    PS. I've only managed a few repetitions of the nine-hitter without breaking so far, and to make those distinctive clapping sounds for the song by the movement of the entire body is absolutely strange and awesome! Somebody only vaguely familiar with German traditional music immediately recognized the song by two of my repetitions!

    Even if I don't progress with my folk-dancing, the experience so far was worth it. Only by trying it can one really appreciate how genius it really is, and there is a sense of connection with people who created or danced these moves in history that I've never really felt with anything else. Perhaps it's just because it's new, but one wonders why this arm or leg does this or that, but then it all makes sense, because one wrong move and the clapping is wrong, the timing is out, and things end up in a tangle.
    It's definitely tried and tested!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    I won't attempt the twelve-hitter tonight (although the first 6 steps are the same as the nine-hitter), however, as I'm getting a bit faster at the 2nd sequence, I've realized that while there are the 9 moves to illustrate the hits, there can be ten moves - the tenth being a return to the initial standing position with both feet on the ground and the hands upright (the right leg simply steps down from position 9, and both hands go up).

    Especially for a faster tempo:

    One
    two three
    Four
    five six
    Seven eight nine ten.
    (repeat)

    However, that may confuse people finding their feet at the sequence, so it's not necessary to count like this, but it follows with repetitions.

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