Step dancers give proper tempo & rhythm | Bowing Down Home


File: pitredennis06-oh-stepdancing_M.mp3


DP – Dennis Pitre

KP – Curator Ken Perlman

KP: You were saying that the tempos, the speed that the people wanted the music for step dancing was a little bit slower then?

DP: Not too fast, they'd always tell you that, and it had to be a certain speed there, because they couldn't execute those steps. Like now, you know how they dance now: the faster the better, you can't play fast enough for them, really. But those old people, I can still see them, this Tony Poirier and this Eugene, that’s the best I saw dancing, this Eugene Arsenault – When I see something, if it's really good I get shivers in my back. And the last time was when he danced, this Arsenault and Tony Poirier, it just brought you shivers in your back when they were dancing. And you could tell with the music was the right speed, on account they could – Sometimes I don’t know how they did that but they had four or five different motions before the step was finished. But it had to be - If it was fast they couldn't do it. That’s what I found. It kind of stuck with you when I was younger because I was tend to play right fast when I was younger. “That’s too fast, that’s too fast.” Whenever it would suit them, this Arsenault fellow, I went to [inaudible] one night, and I think it was the last time I saw him dancing. And we were just playing for the square dance that night, and after, in between, I played a tune and I remembered the tune that he liked. And nobody asked him to dance but he must have been just in the mood, he got up and I never saw the like. It just suited him, eh, the speed; it was the right tempo. Oh it was unreal how he danced. Now for myself, if somebody’s gonna step dance I kind of don’t like playing for them now. Like I.m not going to be able to play fast enough. But I’ll think the way they are taught now, if you see one dancer they’re all the same. They’re tap dancers. Once you see - One has a better style on the floor, it’s the same. Do you find that, Vincent?

VD: It’s all the same steps, yeah

DP: It’s all the same. There was guys before my time. Their last name was Proveau. Well those guys, well Louis is 85 he’s still living, but he was telling us about them, it was in his time. Said you couldn’t, wouldn’t believe it, to see how nice it was to watch those people. Jack [Proveau] was a good dancer. He’d be dancing, he had a spot there, and he would not move from there, he could dance – And he knew over a hundred steps, different steps. And while he was dancing, he was that supple, he'd be dancing and he’d make a handspring right over it, and land right in the same spot and not miss a step!

VD: Gilles Proveau, my mother used to tell us that. When they'd have a party at my grandfather's place, they'd go to the barn, and they'd take him a circular saw three feet in diameter, and they'd put that in the middle of the floor. That was his step dancing platform. That’s what he step danced on. And he could make cartwheels or flips as he was step-dancing and land in the same place, and not miss a step as he was dancing.