Get ready, get set!
by Lin Pettingil
… to Scottish dance for a week in Calgary, Alberta, July 28 through August 4, 2019 at Mount Royal University.
It’s a super fun time! You’ll dance and socialize with people from all over the world who, like you, are there to learn and improve their dancing in a fun, supportive setting. It doesn’t matter if you’re a relatively new dancer or have been dancing for decades – there is a morning class that will be a perfect fit for you - basic, intermediate, experienced and experienced challenge. You can choose from a variety of mixed level optional afternoon classes and in the evenings, everyone joins together to enjoy the social dancing and an after party. There is a mid-week ceilidh, where we all get to appreciate the hidden talents amongst us and the last evening there is a formal ball and banquet.
This event is seriously addicting! Go once and you’ll keep going back year after year after year.
The week is organized by The Scottish Country Dance Teachers’ Association (Canada). You can go to their website
now to check out the dance programs, costs and accommodation details: https://tac-rscds.org
More detail are available here: http://www.rscds-swws.org/TAC_ad_final.pdf
Register early - online registration opens March 1, 2019.
by Melissa Whitson
Many dancers have heard of John Drewry, a dancer, teacher, and devisor of numerous Scottish Country dances and creator of a number of what are now standard dance formations. John died in 2014 at the age of 90, and in a separate article in a future newsletter, I’ll write more about his history. In this present article, we’ll get a glimpse of his personality through some of the notes he included in his dance books.
He published at least 49 dance books based on what is listed on the Strathspey website. John frequently included notes in his books that sought to explain how best to execute the dance as he had intended it, or, to describe how to dance a new formation. Often a short comment about the person or place the dance was written for, or other circumstances related the creation of the dance, may have been inserted.
Somewhere in the mid-1990’s, the remarks in his books started becoming more personal. Little stories or anecdotes began to appear, many of them humorous. Additionally, more details surrounding the inspiration for the dances began emerging.
As I peruse his books looking for dances suitable for teaching or a dance program, his stories often bring a smile to my face or influence me to teach a particular dance. So for your enjoyment, and to provide insights into the personality of this man who contributed greatly to our dance community’s dancing pleasure, below are examples from notes in his books.
From The Bankhead Book Part Six; name of dance: Uncle Isaac
“My father’s mother claimed to have a family connection with Sir Issac Newton. We have no proof of this connection, but they both came from the same part of Lincolnshire. An interesting parallel is that I was sitting one day under a haggis tree and a haggis fell off onto my head. This made me gravitate to Scottish Country Dancing! Someone in the “Big Apple” actually believed this story which proves that if one tells a big enough lie it may become established truth! One of my father’s cousins took her mother, my grandmother and another aunt to a restaurant in London. Wishing to impress the other diners, the aunt said in a loud voice, “Of course we are all descended from Sir Isaac Newton”. She was promptly kicked under the table because Uncle Isaac was a bachelor, and, in those days, single parents were not even mentioned in polite circles.”
From The Australian Book; name of dance: The Toyboys of Toowoomba or Rebecca Dreaming
“The Brisbane Branch held a weekend in my honour at Shannon Park, Toowoomba. Toowoomba is a town in the mountains to the west of Brisbane. Alcohol was forbidden in the residence but Kay Lane invited some of us to a tavern for pre-lunch drinks. After a generous glass of sherry, Rebecca told us of her fantasies. She would like to have a toyboy, who would be dressed in leather with metal studs and who would take her for rides on his large motor-bike. This story became the joke of the weekend and I felt that it deserved a dance. The alternative title is in Abrorigine (sic) style. While I was staying in Whangarei in New Zealand, I was amazed to see a sign Now-Selling BOYS Alas, for the Rebeccas of Whangarei, it was the house which was for sale and Boys was the name of the estate agent!”
From The Brodie Book: name of dance: The Micmac Rotary
“The Micmac Rotary was the bane of motorists in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It was a large traffic roundabout with a lake in the middle and it caused chaos during the rush hour. It has now been replaced by a conventional junction. The Micmacs were the original Indian inhabitants of Nova Scotia.The dance was very popular when I taught it in Paris in 1989 and repeat performances were requested several times during the weekend. The word “micmac” is used in French to mean foul play or complete chaos!”
From The Greenburn Book Volume 2; name of dance: Drumheller or A Tit-Bit for Dinosaurs
“At Drumheller, North-East of Calgary in Alberta, there is a wonderful Dinosaur Museum. I was photographed at the entrance with my head inside the mouth of a very fierce beastie.”
From The Stoneywood Collection; name of dance: Angela and the Swan
“Currently there is a frequently-repeated advertisement on Grampian Television for the Bank of Scotland. In it there is a young woman called Angela who rides around on a swan while singing a little song to herself. This dance is not intended to be Angela’s “Swan Song”.”
From The Stoneywood Collection; name of dance: Holy Cow !!!
“I called at Dean’s Shortbread Factory, in Huntly, to buy shortbread to take to Morland. In the shop they had various novelties for sale including a stuffed cow, which amused me very much. This cow gave me the idea of a title for a dance and now, here is the dance !!!”
From The Stoneywood Collection; name of dance: Oompah, Oompah, Shove It Up Your Joompah!
“The title comes from a chance remark which Joe Murphy made during a telephone conversation. He was referring to the way some bands play Country Dance Music.”
Reel Runners Wear Kilts
by Holly Gibson
This from the September/October 2013 Ghillie Gazette ~ The Editor
When the idea of a group of dancers participating in the Kilted Mile was first floated around the Portland and Southwest Washington branches, many people belied their supposed lack of speed and stamina by bolting out the door and up the street whenever they were asked if they would like to participate in the race. For some reason, the idea of running a mile in eight pounds of wool on a potentially 100 degree day didn’t really appeal to them. How absurdly rational!
In the end, there were five of us who thought the idea sounded like fun: Linda Mae Dennis, Tom Halpenny, Kate Prouty, Bryan Jones, and me. Those who were new to running were already quite active in their “real” lives and it didn’t take long to work up to four laps around the track. After several practice sessions together at a track in Vancouver, we naturally fell into a group of three runners and a group of two. This made the idea of performing different Scottish Country Dance figures quite easy, and we began to incorporate right hands across, reels, promenades, turns, and dancing back to back into our weekly practices.
Along with the running and the choreography was another very important part of the practice: ice cream. We soon formed the habit of walking to a nearby ice cream shop for a scoop of ice cream after our practice sessions. The only glitch was when the track we had been using was being resurfaced, and we had to find another place to run. Lucky for us, Vancouver has several tracks within easy walking distance of Ice Cream Renaissance. For our last two practices, we met near the ice cream shop, put on our kilts, and walked to the track. There were a few stares and shouts as we went by, but we also had people ask us what group we were with and we were able to tell them about Scottish Country Dancing.
On the day of the race, we mapped out where we would “dance” each figure in order to get maximum visibility. The trickiest part was getting the two groups of runners together to do a reel of five on the straightaway right in front of the crowd. During our normal practice sessions it had been quite easy to spot each other since there was nothing on the track; however, none of us took into account all the tents that would be on the field during the race that would be blocking our view. All the practice paid off though because as the group of three rounded the corner, the other two were just the right distance ahead to allow time for us to line up for the reel. The crowd seemed to love it and even the announcer got into the act as he called out our names as we crossed the finish line. I don’t know if the Dancing Kilted Mile will become a tradition or not, but if it does it will certainly show people that dancers do indeed have more fun.
All due credit goes to Linda Mae Dennis for having the idea of both a group of dancers running in the Kilted Mile and for all those taking part in the games to be wearing matching t-shirts (expertly designed by Maggie Hannahs) identifying us as dancers.
by Debbie McRobert
From the March/April 2014 edition of The Ghillie Gazette ~ The Editor
Has this happened to you? You attend class Monday night and learn a new dance with a great new figure. It’s a fun dance, one of your favorites so far. A couple of weeks later you are looking over the dances for the monthly party and can’t quite remember how the figure goes. You remember you liked it and want to be able to dance the dance during the party. You read through the brief but it doesn’t quite give you the confidence that you can dance it correctly. What can you do?
The good news is you have resources available to you.
A great place to start would be our own website, portlandscottishdancers.org. Once on our website select the “Party” link and you will find the program with links provided to videos of most of the dances. Some links are to DancieMaetions (see below) and some to You Tube videos of dances.
Another source is You Tube, http://www.youtube.com. Yes, You Tube has several dances uploaded for your viewing pleasure. If the dance is a popular dance you may find more than one video to watch. There will not be videos for every dance. To find a dance I found if you type in “Scottish Country Dance” then the name of the dance it brings up a good selection to start from. I tested a couple of dances from our program and found Red House only had one choice but The De’il Amang the Tailors had several.
Our own Linda Mae has developed a program named DancieMaetion, (http://www.inaginationprocessing.com) that moves markers that look like game pieces through dances. It’s a wonderful way to review dances as you watch and listen to Linda Mae talk you through the dance. When you log on to the website, select “DancieMaetion” and you will find upcoming programs with the videos of the dances available for viewing.
If you still need to find a dance, or want more information about a dance, a great source to check out is the Strathspey Server (http://www.strathspey.org). It’s such a great resource I have this site bookmarked on my computer. To find a dance go to the Library (left column) and select “Dance Database”. I then go to the Quick Search (top, right side), and type in the name of the dance and select “Search”. On the page that opens you will see a dances section, recordings section, and if there is a tune by the same name you will have a tune section. Select the dance in the “Dances” section and this will bring you to a page with several tabs with lots of information. The first tab, “Overview”, gives information such as date dance was devised, where to find the dance, steps in the dance, and more. You can select “Cribs/Diagrams” and see the directions to the dance. You can select “Videos” and watch the dance. You may find several video links for the same dance. Note, some videos are of performances and may be danced in a nonstandard format (example starting from middle or two sets mirroring each other). You may also find links to DancieMaetions in the list of videos.
Well, there you go. You now have several choices to be prepared for the dance. Now, I just need to find the time to watch them.
MS Walk, SCD Style
by Eunice MacKenzie
From the January/February 2012 editon of The Scottish Country Dancer
Here it is, the end of 2011, and I am reminded of several unfulfilled intentions. Martin's eagerness to have a more substantive newsletter provided the impetus to write an article that is long overdue. If it were only about me I might still have let it slide. However, it is also about support, friendship, and good times, SCD style!
April 9, 2011 found hundreds of people congregating in Portland's "living room", Pioneer Courthouse Square, all with a common purpose: support the cause of finding a cure for MS by walking a set course downtown, either self-or other-sponsored. Several friends and family members were with me there. I had "dreamed up" a "catchy" name for my team: The Celtic Crossers. (Most of us were members of or related to members of Scottish Country Dancers from both sides of the Columbia River, and we had to cross a couple of bridges in our walk!)
Most of us in our team wore plaid or other Celtic clothing, and we set off with excitement, anticipation, and our "Celtic Crossers" sign. The cherry trees were in full bloom which we took advantage of for a "photo op". Farther along, we stopped at a wide spot and took partners for a 5-couple set and danced "Eunie's Jig", based upon an old nickname of mine and written by Linda Mae for the occasion. Since we were technologically challenged, the music was a little faint, coming as it was from Katherine's cell phone speaker, but there was an appreciative audience, nevertheless.
It was a special, memorable day with friends who were there in the flesh or in spirit! I love and appreciate you all.
Now, what else can I get done before the year ends . . . ?
As the list is happily long, I wish to include the list of folks who came as follows: Don and Linda Gertz, Linda Mae Dennis, Debbie Ralls, her daughter Lora Grant, Gail MacPhee, Maureen Sloan, Molly Weinstein, Katherine MacKenzie, Cori Johnson, Eunice herself, and ~ The Editor