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The “Argentine Collection 2020” by Jim Stott (and Charly Candia)

We had lots of fun in June and July with this dance book and the CD that goes with it. My review for the Scottish Country Dancer (the member’s magazine of the RSCDS) is due today and reads – unedited – somewhat like this:

The Argentine Collection 2020

The first thing that strikes one about The Argentine Collection 2020 of dances and music is how lavishly it is appointed. It’s a 32-page A4 book in full colour throughout, with stunning photographs and graphics on virtually every page, and the labour involved in its layout and production must have been staggering. As such the collection seems very much like a joint effort between Jim Stott, who wrote all of the 14 dances except one and much of the original music, and Charly Candia of Buenos Aires, who dealt with the visual presentation and co-authored the final dance with Jim. According to the Foreword, the inspiration for the book was Jim’s October 2019 trip to Argentina, and the book itself was produced during lockdown in 2020.

The dances in the book include three jigs, three reels, seven strathspeys, and one medley. All quick-time dances are for three couples in a four-couple set, while some of the strathspeys are three-couple set dances and one of them plus the medley are for a square set. They include a wide variety of formations, some not seen frequently, and range in difficulty from intermediate to fairly advanced. The Frankfurt general class quite enjoyed them, identifying some – like Welcome to Argentina, On the Tropic of Capricorn, or Charly’s Strathspey – as potential favourites for social dancing. Others – such as The Four Spoons or the Barolo Palace Tower medley – would probably do well in a display. Overall the class failed to identify a dance that they were not prepared to do again, which speaks to the high quality of the dance devising in the book. On the whole the dances are clearly and succinctly explained, with only a few slightly puzzling aspects, and my copy of the book came with a convenient set of Keith Rose diagrams on a separate sheet of paper. The dance descriptions also include brief notes on their back-story or inspiration, often with photographs, which is a very nice addition.

Every dance in the book comes with an original tune (two in the case of the medley), eight of them by Jim and the balance by other notable composers such as Scott Band, Drummond Cook, Bill Ewan, or Walter Rutherford. Some of the tune titles also allude to Jim’s Argentina trip. Music for the dance has been recorded on CD by Susan and Shona MacFadyen and Ewan Galloway, and the sets provide a nice mixture of modern and some traditional SCD tunes that fit the dances well. (One dance, The Jacarandas of Buenos Aires, was inexplicably recorded eight times through even though it is a three-couple set strathspey, but as it is easily tweaked to work in a four-couple set, no music needs to go to waste!)

All in all this book/CD combination has a lot of potential and could prove quite popular. We certainly enjoyed it and hope that Jim will keep taking inspiring trips abroad in the future!

Let’s see what of this makes it into the magazine; the issue will be out in October.

– Anselm

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book and CD from Jim Stott for review purposes.