Registered Charity No. 1068057
BROUN'S REEL (archives)
Editor: Joyce Cochrane
NEWSLETTER No. 101 May 2005
So I'm driving along to school last week, slightly later than usual, though that was fortuitous as it turned out, when Radio Humberside starts to play Scottish Dance music! Our local radio station does not usually include Jimmy Shand in its repertoire, and so it certainly made me sit up and listen. It was of course the start of an interview with George Main, who has featured in all the local media since the AGM.
Unfortunately I wasn't there to see George receive his Scroll of Merit from the branch, recognising all that he's done for Scottish Country Dancing in this area and the sheer length of time he's been running classes, but I understand from those who attended the AGM that George was very moved to have been acknowledged in this way. It really is very satisfying to be so appreciated. Many congratulations, George. I didn't know until the interview that George had originally begun adults and children's classes in Driffield - I wonder if any of my pupils' parents (or grandparents!) were among them?
Next day I was talking to the caretaker in the gym where we occasionally held dances way back then, and he brought up George, who he'd dealt with at these dances. Did I know him? I certainly did! Did you see him on the telly last night? inquired Alan, on Look North? Half of the staff mentioned him to me, it seemed - and then they mentioned the article in the Driffield Times too. So it's official - Wetwang is the centre for Scottish Country Dancing, and it's thanks to George.
It's great to see George recognized. I'd like to give some more praise and recognition to all those other teachers who've kept Scottish Country Dancing alive for us too - to Malcolm in York for the amount I've learnt from him, let alone his own class; to Mike George for all his encouragement and work in the earlier days and for encouraging me to take it seriously and go to St Andrews; to Mike again for all he has done and is still doing for Scottish Dancing in Cottingham; and finally, to all of your teachers for keeping us going. Last of all, if you weren't such a nice appreciative crowd, we might have given up long since - so you all deserve some of the credit.
Life's full of surprises - not always pleasant ones - but since the nice ones have outweighed the disappointing ones over the last eight weeks or so, I'll share a few with you.
First came the flowers, all totally unexpected. A PHALAENOPSIS (O.K. an orchid - I had to look it up in my RHS book!) from my neighbour who is in his eighties, for power-cleaning his drive and doing a little gardening; a bouquet from George Main for making tea at his classes, and a blue hydrangea plant (and an HMV voucher) from the Branch for printing, collating and stapling Broun 's Reel and keeping the postal customers happy. A big THANK YOU for both; I bought a Lesley Garrett CD.
Then came the birthdays and wedding celebration invitations. Alick bringing a lovely cake to SD class to mark his 85 tth , a friend's 60 th birthday ceilidh, Joyce's 50 th birthday SD and ceilidh celebration, Brenda & Michael's Golden Wedding anniversary dance, and Nancy & Norman's Diamond Wedding anniversary ceilidh. At the time of writing, some of these events have yet to take place, but what a wonderful time we spent with Nancy and Norman at Leven Sports Hall with the White Horse Ceilidh Band. A request for donations in lieu of presents raised £338 for the RNLI. There can be no doubt that SCD keeps the old joints and muscles moving, if somewhat creakily. I'm not sure where Nancy and Norman started their Scottish dancing but I think I can remember them being at George Thomson's adult education classes at St Andrew's School in Kirkella in the early 1970s. Their party also gave us an opportunity to renew friendships with Pat Carter and Audrey & Reg Appleby. Congratulations, Nancy and Norman - not many people achieve Diamond status these days!
Then on to Joyce's birthday celebration at Woodmansey Village Hall, a most enjoyable mix of Scottish and ceilidh dancing to cater for everyone's taste, with excellent music supplied by David Oswald and his band. I didn't do any counting but there must have been around 100 people there and it was good to see a number of dancers from the York area, and further afield, and we all enjoyed watching the children dance! It was good to see Clare and Marjorie (Keech) there too. Sadly I could not stay to the end because of an early start travelling to London on Sunday but I enjoyed the supper, cake and wine before departing, and with half of the programme still to go, no-one has told me what time the revellers left the hall!
Now, how about a surprise for Joyce? If she were to receive all the text for Broun's Reel by the published copy date, she would be truly surprised. Everyone who has teachers as friends knows the pressure under which they work and it amazes me how Joyce manages to come up with Broun's Reel each quarter, and still smiling!
Rosemary Robins, Willerby
An Appreciation of 30th April 2005 .
What a night! What an occasion to recall with great joy when Joyce, our dear Editor of Broun's Reel, reached a magnificent "fun filled Fiftieth"; well done Joyce; you looked so radiant and happy with such a hall full of friends; and then to be 'shot' by a group of photographers and given V.I.P. treatment.
Full marks too for her choice of programme incorporating ceilidh dances and for choosing David Oswa1d's Band from 'north of the border'; David also taught "Riverside Jig" saying that it is the current popular dance of the moment up in Scotland. His band was outstanding and contributed considerably to such a successful evening. We are all aware of the wonderful sound of Scottish Country Dance music and how it just makes us want to "move" to its rhythm.
During several dances we had to 'move on' to one partner after another; this is what I consider to be "innocent flirting" . Well, it was with great joy that it enabled me to hold He1en and Rita (Yorkites) in my arms for a "wee fling". What a way to think I'm retaining my youth .... The general atmosphere was simply one of happy people joining Joyce on reaching this milestone of an evening - and with Thanks to all for contributing to the "Faith Supper of a Lifetime!" Then we reached the magic moment when we raised our charged glasses to our popular V.I.P. of the night: Joyce!
Mention must be made of Michae1 George and also Ma1co1m Brown who performed their considerable talents as Masters of Ceremony to perfection matching the quality of music from the Band, and most of the dancers on the floor; alas, I slipped up a couple of times 'getting lost' but happiness was the keynote of the evening and any dancing errors were soon forgotten.
Then we had a surprise "turn": A1istair Brown marching in clutching his bagpipes and ready to play three tunes all of which required break-neck fingering of his pipe to produce a truly magnificent "Skirl 0' the pipes" with emotional spirit fit for this momentous occasion.
Finally, Auld Land Syne was sung with so much spirit that I felt that Rabbie hisse1f was wi' us. Thank You and Well Done Joyce; you kept some 'octowhatsits' feeling so much younger, so do keep up your favourite "movement to music", keep meeting so many nice people and may you long carry on this great Scottish Country Dancing heritage.
Joyce, Lang may yer 1um reek.
Alick McTurk, Willerby
Congratulations on the one hundredth edition of Broun' s Reel. As I said on a previous occasion at an AGM, our Branch is rather widespread and our quarterly information paper keeps us in touch and informed.
I often look back on my collection from issue no 1 and smile at what the branch and its members have done and achieved. There is joy and sadness when one reads of our members and their families.
I must admit Broun's Reel upset me once - Sid and I had been teaching Mairi's Wedding for many years at the Thistle Club, Famagusta and had laboured what we thought was the correct way of passing your partner in the half reels, to the extent that we even had what was then the correct interpretation broadcast on British Forces Radio (for a person who was returning to UK to live near St. Andrews). You can imagine our surprise and dismay to discover, when the branch was formed, that we had been performing the reels incorrectly - the correct way being published in our magazine. However for old times' sakes we occasionally dance the reels incorrectly, hoping to get away with it.
Thank everyone for the work they do in the production of Broun's Reel.
Barbara Douglas, Pickering Class
Thank you to so many people for your help on April 30th. First of all, thank you to Ann and Brenda for looking after the kitchen, and to Mike and Malcolm for MCing the programme. Ann and Clare - the cake you organized was absolutely splendid, and Alistair's piping was a wonderful surprise: I don't know whether he knew that the last in his set, The Clumsy Lover, is a particular favourite! Thank you to the band for playing so brilliantly, and to all of you for coming (especially those who came from a distance) and for making my non-SCD friends so welcome. Finally thank you to all those who couldn't read the instruction "no Presents Please" and gave me such a variety of lovely presents, and to the combined Hull area groups for their great generosity. You all gave me a wonderful night which I shan't forget.
NEWSLETTER No. 102 September 2005
What for you makes a really good dance? Various factors can influence this, and we all weight them differently. It could be because the dance is easy, and so everyone can dance it anywhere, and everyone can enjoy it. It may have something just a little different about it, which makes it stand out, or it may combine figures known from just a couple of other dances in a new or different way. It may be completely different from anything else, so that even though it may seem difficult, we remember it and it becomes a favourite. Sometimes the tune is so wonderful that it lifts even a fairly mediocre dance; or perhaps the tune and the dance are perfectly "married". Or is there something you associate with the dance that gives you a good feeling?
At St Andrews this summer I came across a dance that went straight to Number 1 in my personal Top Ten Strathspeys. It would have been a very good dance in any circumstances, I thought, but it has the most wonderful tune (in a minor key) and this was played quite stunningly for my class by Mo Rutherford. The dance is The Dream Catcher, by Eileen Orr, and contains a new figure called the swirl, devised by Alex Gray, which is delightful to dance and (if the dancers watch their phrasing and each other!) to watch too. It has a very pleasing symmetry, with Part 3 echoing Part 1, and beginning and ending with a circle. Part 2, the filling in the sandwich is also symmetrical. And it all flows beautifully!
Many of you will know that Clare and John went to Canada last October. They'd been struck by Native American crafts, and for Christmas they gave me a beautiful, dainty pair of earrings in the form of dreamcatchers which Clare had bought there. I'd taken these with me to St. Andrews, and it just so happened that I was wearing these earrings on the day that we learned the dance. This was by chance and not design: unlike the rest of you who went to St. Andrews, I'm sure, I'd not even opened my copy of Book 45. The Dream Catcher is not a dance that Clare ever did, but it is now permanently associated with her for me. So there you are - symmetry, a new figure, flow, a wonderful tune "married" to the dance, something different but not too difficult, and a fond association.
If you have particular favourites, or a dance which is very special to you for whatever reason, do write and tell us.
To you all, welcome back to a new season of dancing, and I hope that you enjoy The Dream Catcher, the other dances from Book 45 and all your dancing this season.
I started my journey on a breezy but sunny Sunday morning, a lovely day for a drive up to St Andrews. The roads were clear and I made good time avoiding all the speed cameras on the A1. Booking in on arrival was the same as usual, finding out which room had been allocated to whom. My room was next to Heather Fish - always good to have a friendly face close by.
I was determined to arrive early (usually I arrive just in time for dinner) and go in for tea, which was good. There I was able to met up with friends and acquaintances that I'd not seen for a couple of years.
After dinner Chris Hare, Jean McInnes & myself decided to go for a walk into St Andrews and guess what? The fair had arrived. So after a short walk around the town and a quick look at the sea, we arrived back just in time for a glass of wine and a bit of socializing.
Classes take place in various halls throughout St. Andrews. My first class each morning was in Madras College and the teacher was Jenny Green, who was to teach us book 45. I enjoyed learning these dances, especially The Saltire Strathspey and The Dream Catcher. My second class each morning was Ladies Step: I did enjoy these classes and I did work very hard, even if it couldn't be seen, and I did learn a lot. Duncan Brown played lovely music for us to dance to.
We attended Dances every evening except for Tuesday when Lesley Digby organised a number of us to visited Edinburgh to see a demonstration of dancing by Edinburgh forward it was excellent. Thank you Lesley.
Thursday is always a special evening at The Younger Hall, as this is the dance when the demonstrations take place. We were well represented by Alan Highet and Laura Brown in the Country Dancing and Lyndsey Brown in Ladies Step dance displays. Lyndsey did great as she stepped in at the last minute to take the place of someone who was ill. In the Highland dancing Laura Brown took part, and Duncan Brown played the violin for the Ladies' Step-Dance. Malcolm danced in the Highland demonstration in week 3, still one of the best!
From our branch in the 4 th week we had 29 members attending: this included 3 first timers, Erica Penfold from York, and Jennifer Hignall brought along her 2 granddaughters, Kate & Rosie. Joyce Cochrane attended the 3 rd week; Ian and Helen Russell danced in the second week, and Helen taught the Teacher's Certificate class during the second fortnight. Peter Clark taught during the first fortnight. I must just say that Pat Clark either taught, played or danced for all the 4 weeks of Summer School. What energy!
A good time was had by all.
Ann Pinder, Beverley
Many thanks to Ann for her report. When we were talking about it and trying to work out what percentage of our members had been to St. Andrews this summer, we wondered if any other branch could boast quite the numbers we'd sent there this summer. Does anyone know of a branch with a greater percentage of members attending Summer School?
AGMs and business meetings are words that we normally dread, and we greatly appreciate AGMs which are kept short to leave more time for dancing. However the AGM of the RSCDS is a meeting with a difference. All members of the R.S.C.D.S. can attend and enjoy a really good weekend of dancing as well as finding out a bit more about the organisation of the R.S.C.D.S.
If you find November a bit dreary why not consider a trip to Perth. Allan and I greatly enjoyed last year's AGM in Perth and are hoping to go again this year. Last year there were over 700 dancers on the floor in the large sports hall on both Friday and Saturday nights. There was still plenty of space and it was fantastic to see over 90 sets on the floor with everyone really enjoying the dancing.
This year Colin Dewar and his band are playing at the Ball on the Friday evening and Marion Anderson and her band are playing at the dance on Saturday evening. David Hall is going to teach a general class on the Saturday morning and there is also discussion time for members. I found the AGM on the Saturday afternoon really interesting as an observer. I particularly enjoyed watching the presentations of the Scrolls of Honour and hearing what people had done for branches as far away as Boston and Tokyo as well as the British nominees. To me it is fascinating to hear of the activities of the R.S.C.D.S all over the world, and I enjoy the feeling of belonging to a world-wide organisation.
There is plenty of accommodation available in Perth and we got a very good deal indeed from a hotel in the centre. Perth is a lovely town - in a very short time, we managed to buy a cagoule for Allan and a dress for me that I wore to our daughter's wedding. If you had time for a longer break, the trees in Perthshire were really beautiful with their autumn colours glinting in the sunshine- to carry on up the A9 to Inverness and further north would be really tempting. There is plenty of time for socialising at the A.G.M., and everyone mixes well in terms of dancing . I noticed how after Summer School people tend to say - see you at the AGM in Perth.
So do have a look at the programme for the RSCDS Annual Conference and AGM this year.
Margaret Highet, York
NEWSLETTER No. 103 December 2005
Resolutions are always made at New Year, I know, but if I leave my dancing resolutions until the next issue in February, all I will be able to do is tell you which I've not managed to keep! Thinking ahead, then, here are my resolutions for 2006 insofar as they have to do with Scottish Country Dancing, in no particular order of importance:
I will not talk while the MC or the class teacher is talking;
I will always smile at my partner (even if my health or their dancing is atrocious);
I will never shove or push my partner into the correct place (or the incorrect place!);
I will not grimace if someone shoves or pushes me into the right place;
I will not push into the line that is being made up (even if it means I get to dance in 4th place), and I shall (very tactfully) suggest to my partner that we ought to drop to the end of the line, if necessary;
I will try to do what the class teacher says rather than what I think he's said, which means that I won't daydream during re-caps or while a dance is being taught;
I will make sure that I'm lined up straight to start the dance (even if I think I'm right and they are wrong - it's for the teacher or the MC to sort that one out);
I will make small gestures indicating direction to my partner rather than great expansive sweeps of the hand;
I will not get irritated by someone else making great expansive gestures;
I will not get irritated by someone telling me where to go when I already know ;
I will not get irritated by someone telling me where to go - when they are wrong;
I will not get irritated when someone doesn't tell me where to go when I'm lost (I seem to get irritated very easily - is this the menopause?)
I will try to be really complimentary to my class whenever I can (after all, it's not their fault that Year 9 didn't get their homework in);
I will dance on my toes (OK, the balls of my feet) as much as I can;
I will try to keep my feet/knees/hips turned out;
I will listen to the music and try to dance to it as it deserves - especially when it's live;
I will make sure my handing helps the people I'm dancing with;
I will smile at my partner and at the others in the set - and anyone else!
I will try to get Broun's Reel to Rosemary on time!
A mixture of basic etiquette, self-control and dancing - let's hope I can keep it up till next December. Now, what about you?
Tuesday morning arrived - we both looked at each other, and quietly screamed - The day had finally arrived when we were to set off on our Grand World Tour! The train left on time, and apart from an unscheduled stop (while the driver checked that the reported fault didn't actually exist), we arrived safely in London. Getting our luggage down the stairs to the underground was a problem (no lifts yet at Kings Cross!), and it was a bit embarrassing when my case got stuck in the barrier, but a helpful passer-by solved that problem, and from then on we were on our way.
The next morning, there we were in South Africa - we were met at the airport by Terry Lynne Harris (whom we had met in Grenoble a couple of years ago), and Wouter Joubert who we had only seen on video, but whom we have got to know through email. He also wrote the dance "Knotwork" in Book 44. We set off in Terry Lynne's car on the short journey to Pretoria, where they both live and work, and to Wouter's house where we were to stay for the next few days.
During the next few days we toured various parts of Pretoria and district, including a visit to the Voortrekker Monument where Helen was pushed around in a wheelchair by a very informative guide, who gave us the history of how the Boers made their way up from Cape Town to Pretoria to get away from the British (it is a two day journey by car today, along good roads, so they must have been pretty desperate). We also went out to see a meteor crater about 20 miles outside Pretoria - as craters go, this one is pretty young, only about 220,000 years old, but it still very impressive; it is over 100 metres deep and nearly a mile across. We had lunch in the car park after we had walked back, and I was kept quite busy videoing the exotic bird that had discovered this was great place to feed.
On the Thursday night I taught the branch class, and they had prepared a meal so that we could eat, meet and talk before the class. On the Friday evening we went with Wouter to the synagogue where he is 50% of the choir (the rest of the choir was a young lady with a terrific voice), and then on for dinner with Wouter's mother-in-law. On the Saturday we had a day school in the morning, with me taking the advanced class while the senior teacher from Johannesburg (and the South African examiner), Margo Monteith, took the beginners - after a break I then taught the combined class and I was quite relieved to hear later from Helen that the other teacher had been agreeing with what I was saying! In the evening we had a branch ball which was great fun, and where I had to pick up a couple of dances that were new to me. Again we had home made catering for the interval, which was fascinating and excellent. It was here that they presented us with a book containing three new dances that they had written especially for us - it has its own personalised cover and everything, - it even had some blank pages where those who wanted wrote their own comments! The next day Wouter and Terry took us out for our trip to the Drakensburg; it was an all day drive, through very varying scenery until we reached the start of the mountains and the Long Tom Pass where the retreating Boers managed to shoot back at the pursuing British, and finished up at our cabins where we were to stay the night. The view towards the mountains was breathtaking, and we sat on the veranda as Wouter prepared our barbecue, sparks shooting up into the night sky - by then the temperature had dropped (clear skies, and "Look, there is the Milky Way and Southern Cross"), so we ate inside with a roaring wood burning stove. The next day we went to tourist spots, such as "God's Window", with spectacular views from the top of the escarpment over the surrounding area, and small old tourist towns, where there were a couple of "natives" in blanket type clothes, lots of rings round their necks, who had to put away their mobile phones before I could video them! We even went into a shop where they had silk worms - they make rough silk blankets and clothes! And finally back to Pretoria for a final meal with Wouter and his family. The next day (Tuesday) we went for coffee with Margo in Johannesburg, listening to the SCD problems in the area (mainly a case of all the young teachers they have trained over the years deciding that their future lay outside S. Africa - apparently everyone is equal, except that not being white gives you clear edge in the job market!).
And so on to Perth, Western Australia. Another new, spread out, city of bungalows, except that unlike Pretoria where they all had high fences, sliding gates and bars at the windows we were now into open plan estates. We were met at the airport by Anne and Trevor Walker (we had briefly met Anne at St Andrews) who were to put us up for the next few days - another very full site seeing trip had been organised - for example we went to the Perth Mint on the afternoon we arrived, where we saw gold being melted and poured to make a gold bar! We also had the opportunity to try and lift a gold bar - you know those films where they lift boxes of bars? Well don't believe them! I couldn't lift the bar with my hand over the top. During Thursday we went into Perth and looked around the city park (spectacular views over the city and harbour), and then out of the city to go round an aquarium - you know the sort of thing, moving floor-way while you look up at the sharks overhead. The next day we went to Fremantle, which is just down the coast - a much older town, with really old buildings (OK, 150 years old!) - our most vivid memory is of sitting in the sun having a drink and wedges, listening to an opera singer as she sang and signed the CDs she was selling. On the Thursday and Friday nights I had to sing for my supper, taking classes and giving them dances that I thought they would enjoy - as one was classed as general/intermediate, and the other as advanced / low impact it was quite a challenge trying to give them what we both wanted! We left Perth on the Saturday, feeling as if we had known Anne and Trevor all our lives.
Then we arrived in Melbourne, to be met at the top of the aircraft ramp by our hostess Heather Byers who even arranged for us to be taken by motorised transport to the baggage area. Our week in Melbourne was very varied, from trips into the city by ourselves, (Heather put us on the train and we went to the old City Gaol where Ned Kelly was hanged), to a day's outing down the Mornington Peninsular. I suppose this is the most important thing about Australia - it is just so big. Looking at a map of Australia, you can find Melbourne on the bottom right hand side. On a bigger scale, it is at the top of what looks like a very large bay, and the right hand side of the bay is Mornington Peninsular - nearly a two hour drive from one end to the other! We also met up with Jan Green who used to live in Tockwith, before marrying an Australian and moving out there. She took us out one day to look at some really grand Victorian mansions, and the next day we went via a small zoo to stay overnight at their house. At the zoo we saw kangaroos lying on their sides and backs, apparently sunbathing. The wallaby was a lot more fun, as she grasped our hands so that she didn't have to stretch so far while we fed her some apple.
The following morning we looked out of our bedroom window to the top of the hill, and using the zoom on the video we could really see the wild kangaroos grazing. Jan and Geoff's house relies on solar power and wind power for most of the electricity, which means that I had to use the computer point to get enough voltage to run my razor!
Next day they took us via their local town of Yea, (where we were interested to see that they had their own Shire Hall), to the Australian Winter school at Dookie. The site was an agricultural college about 5 miles from the one street town of Dookie, and the accommodation was very mixed, from modern student rooms in 3 storey blocks to bungalows containing about a dozen single rooms. There were about 250 students on the course, including some children with ages ranging from 5 to 15, and the teachers came from the UK (Eric Finley, who is going to be our teacher at Harrogate), the US (Elaine Brunken - Helen thought she was brilliant), and New Zealand, as well as Australia. The musicians included three from the UK - Ian Slater from Leeds, and Maureen Rutherford and Neil Copeland from Perth. We had classes in the morning (for the first 3 days I had Eric & Helen had Elaine), and for the first 2 days I had music provided by Chris Duncan, an excellent Australian fiddler. The afternoons were filled with various activities, including a session when the various teachers got together to talk about next year's exam tour, and we even had a session called "Meet the Browns" when we talked about the Management Board and the new exam structure. We also had to spend a couple of sessions in the afternoons going into Dookie and videoing some of their younger dancers performing the dances from book 45. There was dancing most nights, from informal on the first night to a grand ball near the end, and including a Fancy Dress night, with prizes for the best ideas and costumes. There was a ceilidh one night, with the usual wide selection of acts, and the last night the week finished with a dinner at which presentations were made, and both Chris and Ian played (did you know that Ian was the UK classical accordion champion when he was 16?).
On the Sunday, back in Melbourne, we met up with Ian and some of the committee, and went out to a local reservoir to look for kangaroos (Ian said he saw them, but I'm not convinced) - and then on to a place with a host of birds, from White Cockatoos to brightly coloured Rosellas (red parrots). The day finished with us going on to someone's house for a very sociable evening meal.
Monday found us travelling on to Sydney for a couple of nights - it was almost tropical when we arrived, but was much cooler the next few days. We still managed to see the harbour bridge and the opera house (outside only, but we did walk all the way round it), as well as a 2 hour boat trip round the harbour. We also went on a tour bus, which pointed out all the really major points of interest, and on the monorail which covers the centre and is a lot quicker! This only served to point out how much time we really needed to spend in Sydney to see the sites! On the Tuesday night we were picked up by Keith Napier (of Napier's Index) and went to their house for dinner with him and Morag (one of the three Australian examiners). The food was excellent and the conversation invigorating.
And finally we were off on our last leg of our journey, to Tokyo and Japan. Arriving first thing in the morning we bought our bus tickets to catch the bus across Tokyo, something like a 2 hour journey. There we were met by Ken and taken to his house (some of you will remember Ken & Noko who stayed with us in the Summer). In the afternoon we went out with Ken, to see a local shrine, and had a short trip on a monorail. In the evening I went with them to the local hot baths - this had the feel of a David Lloyd sports centre, all modern glass and chrome. After over an hour in the main pool doing water aerobics to Beatles songs (I like the idea of no deep end - just chest height from one end to the other, and obviously not very cold!), we went to the Jacuzzi pool for a rest and sit down - then on from the mixed section to the Men Only section and the outside really hot pool and the stars above. Finally after drying off, we went for a drink in the bar to re-hydrate. The next afternoon we did our only dancing in Japan, when we met up with our friends in a wonderful hall over a swimming pool. It had a lovely wooden floor, glass walls, mirrors down one side, and we danced the afternoon away. Then back to Ken and Noko's for a small party with the various friends we have made.
The following day we went out with our friend Tom to a few sites around Tokyo - did you know they had their very own small version of the Statue of Liberty, down on the beach in Tokyo harbour (they had to import the sand!) - we got to this particular area on a driverless train - it was only slightly worrying. We also went to a park and gardens set in what used to be an air base. We have a wonderful picture of Helen surrounded by a vast mass of Cosmos flowers, all pale pink and pale blue.
At the weekend we went with Tom by "shinkansen" (bullet train) to Kyoto, and they really are fast and comfortable. We went and saw various shrines during our short stay, including the Golden Temple and the world famous zen garden (a few rocks in a "sea" of pebbles). Our hotel in Kyoto was just underneath a "Tower", so one night after dinner we climbed into the lift to see Kyoto by night - lights spreading out as far as the mountains. Before returning to Tokyo we went on to Kobe, and by taxi across the Akashi bridge - currently the longest suspension bridge in the world, having moved the Humber bridge down to number two! We then went on to an earthquake museum, to see just how far the earth moves at a fault line (about a metre) - they even had chairs you could sit in and experience an earthquake as violent as the one they had a few years ago.
Finally we returned to Tokyo by "shinkansen", and this time the weather was good enough to see Mount Fuji on the way, - it really is very impressive. That night we had dinner with Ken, Noko and their son and one of their two daughters, just returned from a trip to Milan.
And so we came to the end of a really wonderful trip - everyone we met was charming and helpful, and unstinting of their generosity and time, showing once again that Scottish Dancing brings the nicest people together from all over the world.
Malcolm Brown, York
Readers who attend the AGM and study the annual finance reports will know that the Branch finances are in a healthy state. Consequently the Branch Committee is always happy to give a full refund to persons who have paid in advance for a Branch Event (e.g. dance, day or weekend school) and then cannot attend due to illness or for a compassionate reason, provided that they notify the event Organiser or a Committee Member beforehand.
Therefore please worry not when putting your money up-front!
Philip Ashworth, Branch Treasurer
It was good to welcome our own "home-grown" teacher to our Day School . I remember the first time I danced with Duncan, who was then about 7. The dance included and allemande which he did with great aplomb in promenade hold.
Duncan was just a baby when the Branch was formed. He was brought up with Scottish music and dancing to be the gifted musician and dancer he is today.
He and Pat, our musician, have good rapport. They inspired us. Duncan knew what we needed and what we could achieve. He worked us hard and we learned a lot in the afternoon. Our footwork and formations improved and we tried to keep it up during the evening dance. Thank you, Duncan and Pat, for being patient with us.
We were worried how our new format of Day School would work out. I thought it was a success and it would be good to have feedback for future Day Schools.
I should like to thank all who helped. There were so many helpers that the "kitchen staff" was able to enjoy the class and the dance.
The only hitch was the mix up with the band about the starting time of the dance, but, as George pointed out, it gave us more time to socialise and read the cribs!
It is good to dance to a band and the music lifted us. We forgot our tiredness and enjoyed dancing the night away.
Jean McInnes, Hessle
NEWSLETTER No. 104 February 2006
It was only at the last committee that I realised that (after some earlier suggestions that I'd forgotten might happen) Book 45 will be the last book that the RSCDS intends to publish. Philip and I looked at each other in some dismay and wondered if this were really a wise move on the part of the RSCDS. Researching and collecting dances and publishing books has been part of the aims of the RSCDS from the start; every year we've become used to receiving a book, pocket edition or set of leaflet dances. So this feels like a real departure.
I'm told that some of the books have received some criticism, as has the editorial policy behind them. OK, so we rarely dance anything from Leaflet 33, but Book 33 was a cracker! (Did anyone ever tell that to the publications committee?) Henceforth, dances will be published in the bulletin/magazine - not as convenient for teachers or musicians, unless you've unlimited space for storage. One thing that publishing a book does, too, is give a kind of currency to dances, so that the same new dances are presented world-wide. With no future books, does this mean that local groups will increasingly produce more and more of their own dances? Or does it mean that only the best dances will filter out of their own local areas to gain a wider circulation? Time maybe will tell.
For many RSCDS members, one of the only tangible benefits they get from their membership is the book which comes once a year. If this is their view, they may wonder what the point is of joining the RSCDS. It won't affect what they do now at all, and they can still carry on dancing in the future just as they do now. In spite of the huge numbers we've been sending to St. Andrews in recent years (and you need to be a member to do that!) most of our members still don't go or have never been. There is a slight reduction on admission to branch dances, but you need to go to quite a few dances before you make on the deal. So how much point is there really to membership?
Most of the teachers who take your classes locally have been trained by the RSCDS. OK, so they've had to pay for courses or paid to stay ay St. Andrews, but it's the expertise of the RSCDS accumulated since 1923 which really can't be bought or priced. It's not just your teacher's knowledge - it's that inherited tradition rescued and nurtured by Miss Milligan and Mrs. Stewart. Then there's all the work done by so many people in their own time for the RSCDS, both locally and at national level - people teaching at all sorts of levels, people working on committees, doing their best for the society and for Scottish Dancing. All those things come at no cost to you, so what value have they: are they free or are they priceless? And will you renew your subscription even if you're not getting a book?
(With apologies to Mrs Beeton)
This past year, 2005, whilst attending 98 dance sessions i.e: Balls, formal dances and classes, I have had the opportunity of dancing 425 different dances. 83 of these 425 were new to me, and 214 were danced but once. The database of the dances that Susan & I have danced over the years contains the names of nearly 1500 dances (and this is small when compared with the 12000 plus dances already available worldwide). Only 128 out of these 1500 dances are sufficiently popular to have been included in more than one programme during this past year. But, assuming programmes of, say, 16 dances, and one programme a week for a year, then it would be possible to dance (16x52) = 832 dances. In such a case, again assuming that there were no repetitions, only about half of the contents of my database would be aired. In such a case less than a tenth of all the dances ever written could be danced. So many dances, and so rarely do we meet them.
Rather like pop tunes, these "lost" dances have had their brief and heady success, and then only appear again when clearing out the attic of the mind. For example, who remembers Cairn Edward, The Braes of Balluder , or Miss Gabrielle's Reel? Cairn Edward is met in a Class situation occasionally, and Balluder's Braes is but a map reference, at least in the areas whence I cull my lists. As for Miss Gabrielle's Reel, I suppose I may assume with some confidence that young Gabby is at least 14 years older than she was when I danced her dance that only once. It is likely that somewhere, in some club or group, these dances remain a favourite, and not just with the deviser. Of course, it may be that the club has become defunct as the members have grown older...
I am not going to bemoan the steadily increasing average age of club and of Branch membership. This is too recurrent a theme in so much that is written about Scottish Country Dancing. A similar situation obtains in many leisure activities where participants band together to form a club (or its equivalent) and then find after a decade or so that new, young members just are not joining up to carry on what the founder members regard as the good work. The organising committee eagerly seeks those who will take over the running of the group. Calls go out, and money is spent, trying to attract new blood. All to no avail. In our own activity much effort and many resources go into the encouragement of Scottish Country Dancing in schools in an attempt to arouse interest amongst young children, in the presumed hope that they will continue to dance as they grow older. However, Scottish Country Dancing taught in schools suffers from the same problem as so many other activities taught in schools. There is no way that the majority of school leavers are going to continue to voluntarily participate in an activity they associate with School -- even if they enjoyed it. They have so many other activities that can occupy their attention. Shakespeare listed Seven Ages for Man, and doubtless would include Woman in a modern rewrite, but there would be many more Ages needed to encompass modern life. It would not include topics forgotten from school until perhaps that Age is reached when one's own offspring are being introduced into the real world. The Age for yielding to the strains of Scottish Country Dance music, if at all, will have to wait for many more years to pass. So what solution may be offered?
One solution, which possibly raises more questions than the answer, is that it is from older people, with more time to spend on themselves, that a fresh membership could be attracted. Of course, being older, such dancers will no longer be as supple as of yore, and flight during pas de basque and travel step, may be more difficult to achieve. To a teacher it could be less exciting to extract conformity from the dancing ability of these returnees. Perhaps bringing mature dancers back into the fold will not be as rewarding as seeing an 18-year old leap about with toes so exquisitely pointed that the said toes are nearly touching the insole.. (Lucky, lucky 18-year old!) But the mature re-entrants will be the more able to afford their club and Society fees, and pay full price for their Saturday dance tickets, whilst their technique need lack neither precision nor correctness.
They will need instruction in the dancing art that should make use of teaching techniques appropriate to their requirements. I suspect that the classic order of learning, efficient and economic though it may be, in which footwork (ie: steps, and formations), then dances are taught, might have to change. This change would follow what happens in practice. Because of the lack of classes dedicated to newcomers, they have to learn on the hoof, whilst dancing. Footwork becomes just one more stumbling block to their maintaining their place in the manoeuvres. The initial effort of trying to keep feet in time with the music (which ploughs on regardless) and remembering where to go next in the dance, even remembering who is their partner, can be mind-blowing. Experienced dancers may help with comforting remarks such as "We all have these problems when we start", or "It doesn't matter if you go wrong - it's your partner's fault, anyway". But going wrong does matter to the beginner, if only because of being so thrust into an embarrassing prominence. It is difficult to convince beginners that "learning a dance" is easier if the footwork is sound because the footwork seems less important to them than being in the right place at the right time when actually in the dance. The main problem remains relevant instruction. Few would disagree that learning about an activity like Scottish Country Dancing is much easier if it can be taught to a group of beginners of similar inability. Organising a class just for a beginner or two is expensive both in effort and in cash. Trying to include beginners in a Class attended by more experienced dancers who attend because they hope to gain from advanced instruction, creates other difficulties. This Branch is lucky in having Teachers who will try to encompass all ability standards in their one Class. But for every beginner who stays this course, there will be some who retire, hurt. Such, one may muse philosophically, is life; but the question is begged. Can we afford to lose even one prospective dancer?
This is not to say that learners of whatever age do not need learn how to dance correctly. Some years ago, taking a Branch day school, Derek Haynes remarked that it was worth learning to dance correctly because it was so much easier to dance correctly than to continue to dance incorrectly. That good technique is important is unquestionable. And yes, I would agree that the earlier the start the better. For a late starter knowledge of how the activity should be practised is vital to finding effective shortcuts to accommodate one's infirmities! Another thought, to raise yet more questions, might be: use the Internet. A beginner could download video or film clips demonstrating the various steps and formations, even dances. Seen on a computer screen, clips showing people dancing, and enjoying themselves , could be infectious. Viewers could practice steps in the privacy of their own home (as say the ubiquitous they), and in consequence, perhaps feel more comfortable when at a future class or club night. Of course, such provision needs to be tailored both to the medium and to the intended audience. One would hope for a brightly lit and well decorated background, personable dancers, several cameras cutting to different shots, to smiling faces and to neat foot work, perhaps even demonstrations in slow-motion. These requirements would absorb much fine gold in the realisation. Could some of the resources used for the School programmes be deflected? The videos currently available could be retained as being more relevant to an audience already interested and having some knowledge. As a spin-off there is the possibility that if Scottish Country Dancing was available on the Internet, not only might one attract more mature entrants, but that some younger ones might be (re)infected with the bug. Think on!
Anyway, here is THE LIST for 2005.
As usual, in the Notes column
* indicates that the dance is one from the RSCDS collection,
A number in brackets indicates the position of the dance in last year's list, R means that the dance is reappearing after an absence,
FA marks the first appearance of that dance in these lists.
Again, I would stress that this list is composed just from those dances that I myself have had the opportunity of dancing. (I mention this disclaimer as, to my surprise, I find that I have achieved a mention of sorts in the RSCDS Members Magazine. How its editor came by the information I still do not know). You will see that The Montgomeries' Rant leads the pack again after a brief sojourn at 4 th place last year. I note that 8 strathspeys are included, which is more than usual. 10 dances from last year remain in the list. With the exception of Mrs MacPherson of Inveran, the remaining dances had all appeared in previous lists. Dances from the new Book 45 have proved popular in later programmes, sometimes appearing more frequently than the obligatory once in class . In 2005, Catch the Wind has appeared on 8 programmes, Napier's Index on 6 programmes, and Alan J. Smith on 4. It will be interesting to see how programme devisers take them up in the coming year.
Rank Dance Appearing Notes
1 The Montgomeries' Rant 17 times (4)*
2 Pelorus Jack 15 times (2)*
3 Cramond Bridge 13 times (11)
Mairi's Wedding (19)
The Sailor (7)*
6 Gang the Same Gate 12 times (R)*
MacDonald of the Isles (R)*
Neidpath Castle (R)*
9 Ian Powrie's Farewell.. 11 times (R)*
Sugar Candie (R)*
11 Bees of Maggieknockater 10 times (R)*
John of Bon Accord (R)*
Joie de Vivre (R)*
The Minister on the Loch (R)*
Miss Gibson's Strathspey (R)*
Miss Johnstone of Ardrossan (2)
Silver Tassie (11)*
18 Follow Me Home 9 times (R)*
General Stuart's Reel (R)*
Hooper's Jig (9)*
Irish Rover (15)
Kelloholm Jig (19)*
Mrs MacPherson of Inveran (FA)
The Reel of the 51 st Division (R)*
The Robertson Rant (R)*
Shiftin' Bobbins (R)*
Michael East, York
You will notice a few changes with the Membership Application Form this year. The first one is that the form now only takes up one side of paper. The second is that there is no list of alternative copies, and nothing about a subscription copy. Back in October (it should have been September but there was a mix up!) you received the first edition of the RSCDS magazine. This magazine is due to be published twice a year and one of them will include an indeterminate number of dances - there were two published in the first one and these were both a tribute to Eileen Watt who retired from the HQ staff last summer. The magazine replaces the bulletin and the subscription copy and the plan is to send it out to every member directly from the publishers.
The Annual Subscription is made up of a £10 fee which goes direct to the RSCDS and a £2 administration fee for the Branch. Each branch decides on its own administration fee. A person can be a member of more than one branch but their "home" branch is the one through which they pay their £10 fee to the Society. This explains what the Admin. Member is - a person who is a member of another branch but wants to support us as well. They are not included in the total number of members for a branch. Long Term membership was abolished in 2000 and our numbers of LT members are dwindling - at the start of the next subscription year we shall only have 7 left, at the start of the 2007 subscription year there will only be 2 left. Life membership was abolished in the 1970s but we still like to check that our records are correct and ask members to send their forms in so that we know that addresses are correct for sending out the Chairman's letter, etc.
When we had to distribute books and bulletins, we tried to keep postage costs down as much as possible by asking committee members and other contacts to distribute to their own groups, which is why we asked you to let us know which classes/groups you attended. This has had other benefits by showing us which classes/groups are getting more new members - Pickering has had an influx of new members after many years. The Branch dance in May will be in Pickering.
If members do not wish to attend the Day School or the Weekend School there is no point in them receiving forms which they do not want. We are also trying to save paper in a very minor way.
It would be very helpful if you could return your forms to your committee member or me around about the end of February, beginning of March. Thank you.
Helen Brown (York)
The Branch's finances are in a healthy state at the moment, thanks in part to those members who completed a 'Gift Aid' declaration in conjunction with their membership renewal last year. Thus armed, and with the help of the spadework done by my predecessor, Rita Eastwood, I was able to recover £129 of your 2005 subs, plus £540 of the subs paid in previous years, plus £33 interest thereon, making a total of £702, all from HMG.
However, the 2005 recovery is only about half that which I think could have been claimed if all eligible members had completed a declaration. If you made a declaration last year there is no need for another, but if you did not please consider it when renewing your subscription for 2006. The sole requirement for eligibility is that you are a UK tax payer of either income tax or capital gains tax. You don't have to be in employment - you may have an occupational pension which is taxed, or you may get dividends which attract a tax credit. In husband and wife cases it would be helpful if each submitted a form, if eligible - I do not think it possible (lawful) for one to claim for both spouses, even if he or she actually pays the combined subs.
Thank you once again to all who did help our finances in this way.
Philip Ashworth (Branch Treasurer)
My wife and I still enjoy Scottish Country Dancing and, now aged 85 and 87, we look forward each week to our classes taught by Mike George, George Main and Joyce Cochrane, to whom we are so extremely grateful. But, Aye, BUT! Who prefers/who puts forward such brain-taxing dances? Sometimes I think they are submitted as a challenge to our worthy teachers:- "Try and teach that to your miserable bunch of aspiring dancers!"
We owe so much especially in our later years to Scottish Country Dancing - not forgetting the music! How often we await "that first chord", and then... we're off... smiling faces... helping hands... friendship... sheer joy of living... moving to wonderful music... a feeling of exhilaration... we feel years younger... and so we are still enjoying life to the full as our feet keep time to the music; to us the two words "satisfied happiness" sum up the real magic of Scottish Country Dancing, and this surely is the real secret of a successful Scottish Country Dancing class.
Being well past the age of retirement, may we make a plea to all teachers: remember that we're dancing for fun, for joy, for delight and primarily for happiness. THANK YOU for telling us what to do and particularly "what comes next..."
Alick McTurk, Kirk Ella
Written as a celebration and appreciation of Clare Bunton's life.
8x32 bar reel for three couples in a four couple set
Tune (temporarily) Donald McLeod's Reel
1 - 4 First couple, giving right hands, cross over and cast off one place. Second couple step up on bars 3 and 4.
5 - 8 First couple, giving right hands, turn half way round and stay in centre of set facing each other, right hands joined. They set for two bars, the woman turning under the man's arm, and finish facing the women's side of the dance, looking out between second and third women, the first man BEHIND his partner.
9 - 16 First couple dance out through the women's side of the dance, the man casting behind third woman, first woman casting up round second woman. First couple dance into the centre, man still behind woman and face out between second and third men's places. First couple dance out through the men's side. First man casts down, first woman casts up. They dance into the centre and finish back to back facing first corners. MEANWHILE, second and third couples, giving right hands to their partners, cross over to opposite sides, then set on the opposite side. Second and third couples repeat the crossing and setting back to original places.
17-24 First couple dance Corners Pass and Turn with first and second corners. First couple finish in second place on own sides by passing each other by the right shoulder on bars 23 and 24.
25-32 Second, first and third couples dance six hands round and back.
Repeat from second place
Two of Clare's great qualities which Helen has tried to incorporate into this dance were her great sociability and the flight in her dancing. For flight and covering - try really moving on the Corners Pass and turn - for sociability, just count up the number of people who turn each other or take hands at some point! And isn't there room for a little harmless flirting as 1st lady looks back to check that her partner is actually following? Helen has taught this dance in several different countries and different continents - and it's amazing in how many of these places people knew Clare!
NEWSLETTER No. 105 May 2006
As behind the times as ever with news, I discovered in late March as I read the February edition of "The Living Tradition" a list of the winners of the 3rd Scots Trad Music Awards for December 2005. That Gordon Shand should win the Scottish Dance Band of the Year might not surprise those of us who've danced to him; this was a category sponsored by the National Association of Accordion and Fiddle Clubs. Having perversely started to read from the bottom of the list, I then noticed higher up that the RSCDS had sponsored the "Live Act of the Year" category - and that the winners were the Peatbog Faeries.
Now, though I share my enthusiasm for Scottish folk music with others from the branch - Gordon and June, Bill, Maureen and May for instance - I would not assume that even they had come across the Peatbog Faeries, let alone the rest of you. You may be thinking from the spelling "Faeries" that this is a gentle, New Age Celtic Twilight kind of a group - and you'd be dead wrong. The "Peatbogs" play up tempo fast traditionally-based music with added extras like sampled streams and birdsong (Celtic Twilight?) but also a toilet flushing! "So what's all this got to do with dancing?" someone will be muttering in the background.
What had surprised me was the pairing of the rather conservative RSCDS with the more anarchic Peatbog Faeries, and it led me to think about the way music is developing. We've noticed more and more younger members of dance bands - even some whole bands - and there has been an increasing interest in traditional music amongst the young in Scotland for some years. While there has been some growth of interest in ceilidh dancing too, the RSCDS has not really shared in this revival in Scottish traditions, or at any rate not in Scotland, though I believe that trends are different in Germany, Italy and Japan.
The under 30s (and even the under 40s) have grown up surrounded by all sorts of musical influences which are not the norm for most RSCDS members. Many dancers have very entrenched preferences music-wise: I've met people who think that only bands with two accordions are proper Scottish Dance bands, and people who think that a solo piano or piano and fiddle are somehow abandoning established SCD tradition. So far, most bands are fairly conventional, although James Gray at least shows distinct jazz influence, and once I saw a brilliant display from Dunedin using ragtime music; nevertheless I do wonder how long younger bands will stick with the convention. One critic accused Runrig of playing "lumpy porridge-rock" (to my horror!) but there are certainly a few (mostly older) bands out there playing lumpy porridge strathspeys. Increasingly, I think, the other influences around will begin to show in the music that is played, and we will need to accept this, though I would never want to lose traditional SCD music. Maybe in future, the RSCDS and the Peatbog Faeries won't seem incongruous together; both will play their part in the development of music for Scottish Country Dancing. If we insist on only one pure style of dance music, perhaps we will lose not only a generation of dancers but also a future generation of musicians.
Half right & left, back again, Down the mid: up again, Allemande Hands 6 round.
It is only when you see the instructions in the original publications and manuscripts that you understand the problems that the Society had in the early days. As those involved looked at the "original" wording it became necessary to interpret instructions which were far from clear.
I came across an original publication, printed by Preston, which contained a dance "The Rakes of Glasgow", which seemed similar to the dance of that name published by the Society in Book 11. Now the first appearance of the Allemande in Society publications is in Delvine Side (Book 2), so by the time Book 11 was published, the formation we all dance was well established as a progression, which normally took 8 bars. However the Preston version shows only 24 bars of music, and the instructions are those shown at the start of this article.
To fit this into 24 bars suggests that the Allemande was a much simpler movement, and more recent research indicates that it was just the man turning the lady under her arm, rather as in the dance "Not I". To obtain a progression, the "up again" would be to second place, and it then requires the fitting in of a "Turn the lady under her arm" and "6 hands round", perhaps just round to the left rather than round & back? Or perhaps the man turned the lady under her arm as they danced up the middle? Who knows?
A dance which was tackled much later by the Society (Book 27) was originally published by John Bowie of Perth, entitled Miss Murray, Lintrose.
While the original instructions are slightly longer than those shown above, they are far from helpful:
Cast back one couple: allemande half round; cast back another couple: allemande half round: lead up the middle: cast off: lead down one couple and cast up one couple: first lady allemande with 2 nd gent: first gent allemande with second lady.
In the Society version first couple cast off and join in an allemande behind the second couple, and then cast off again and dance an allemande behind the third couple - the final allemande they dance with the second couple, but not with their partners, resulting in the men changing places with each other on the last two bars.
If however the allemande merely refers to turning the lady under her arm (perhaps a full allemande means first with the right arm, then with the left, so "allemande half round" could mean just under the right arm?), perhaps we can construct a much more elegant dance. There is still a problem of fitting it to the music, in that looking at the words we don't know how many bars are required for each part. The leaflet from which I obtained the words is a modern publication, so although it prints the tune to last 48 bars, I have no way of knowing whether this is what was printed in the original - my reconstruction takes 40 bars, but I wouldn't like to bet much on its authenticity!
A copy of the Menzies Manuscript is on the Strathspey website, where you can see the original wording for such dances as Montgomeries' Rant and General Stuart's Reel. In fact reading this I get the impression that it was someone's crib or notes rather than a version printed for a wider audience. For example the author uses a phrase " flafing their hands", without any description as to what this means. The manuscript also contains a description of "Couteraller's Rant", which is the basis for the RSCDS version in Book 34. The Society version starts with six hands round and back, to increase the length to the more usual 32 bars, and is a Strathspey, which is based on the full title in the manuscript. However we dance Strathspeys a lot slower than they were danced in the 1750s, and if we speed things up the first 8 bars of people turning under arms becomes another version of what I will call a "historical allemande". (I am indebted to Jim Healy, firstly for transcribing the Manuscript, and also for pointing out the "allemande" movement in Couteraller's Rant)
Because we now have access to the some of the original versions, I find it interesting to see how differences have arisen depending on the route followed, for example the Scottish & Welsh dance traditions. The two examples I have come across are Euan's Jig (which becomes Evan's Jig in Welsh) and Dainty Davie (or the Welsh version, Dainty Davy). In Welsh country dancing "clapping" is much more complicated than our Scottish "single clap" - it becomes "together, right, together, left, together, both, together, right", as in the game children play. So while Dainty Davie is a 16 bar strathspey, with not much going for it, Dainty Davy is a 32 bar Reel, which is actually quite fun!
It is not that surprising that we have a few similar dances if we remember that our earliest source was Playford, and he and the early publishers such as Rutherford were just printing "country dances" - as far as I can see, it was the title which determined which country claimed ownership! So the Welsh claimed "Milford Haven" (Rutherford 1760) as one of theirs - not unreasonable as it is in Pembrokeshire, South West Wales.
However the original instructions would need little imagination to produce a dance that would fit easily into our "Scottish" tradition:
Foot it and cast off 2 nd couple: #1
Lead to the top, foot it and cast off #2
Hands round 4 at bottom #3
Right and Left at top #4
#1 represents a horizontal line with one dot above; #2 represents a horizontal line with two dots above;
#3 represents a horizontal line with one dot above & one dot below;
#4 represents a horizontal line with two dots above & below ---- I have assumed this marks the end of each 8 bars, but that is because I think in 32 bar phrases!
My interpretation would be:
1 - 8 1s set twice, cast off to 3 rd place (2s & 3s step up)
9 - 16 1s dance up to the top, (2s & 3s step down), set & cast into 2 nd place (2s step up)
17 - 24 1s & 3s four hands round and back
25 - 32 1s & 2s Rights & Lefts
With the right music (a Jig?), I think it would be quite danceable - but of course, that is only my interpretation!
Malcolm Brown, York
When I gave my Secretary's report at the AGM on 8 th April, I omitted to mention that Mike George was no longer organising the Cober Hill Weekend. I would like to apologise for not including this tribute in my report.
Mike took over the running of the Cober Hill weekend from Len Bird, whose idea it was originally, in about 1992. He has organised these weekends with great care and his plan was always that everyone should have a good time. Margaret Jepson taught for the first few years and then Barbara Caldicott took over, and, in the final few years, Angela Hollingworth taught the classes. For many years, George Meikle has provided the music for classes and dances and his expertise has been much appreciated.
Mike was keen for everybody to enjoy the surrounding countryside as well as the joys of the dance floor, so walks were and reconnoitred and organised. I think they have enjoyed these walks in fair weather and foul and one year they went slightly astray! Of course, Mike has always been supported by Brenda who stepped into the breach one year when Mike was very ill in hospital.
We very much appreciate the hard work involved in running these weekends and sadly an era has come to a close. Ian Barbour from Guisborough has taken over "our slot" at Cober Hill and we wish him luck in the future.
Thank you Mike.
Helen Brown, York
Last year, the branch awarded the first of the new scrolls designed by the Society to be awarded to members who had made a long-term and substantial contribution to Scottish Dancing within the Branch area. This year, we have again been able to award a Scroll, to two people - Mike and Brenda George. Mike's Cottingham classes have been a major driving force in the East Riding and it is thanks to encouragement from him and Brenda that I went to St. Andrews first and then took my teaching certificates. Although Mike has really been the front man, and has performed several roles on the committee at various times, Brenda has always been there behind him and working even harder than he has, if possible! Brenda, though never a committee member herself, has looked after all the catering equipment and provided squash, tea, coffee and squash for years. Mike and Brenda were awarded their scrolls during the interval of our 30th Anniversary Ball in Howden. Many congratulations!
Congratulations to Wendy Lyons, from York, who recently passed her Teacher Certificate. Wendy travelled to Ingleton every fortnight over the winter to be trained by Maureen Haynes. Well done!
Members of the York and North Humberside Local Association of the RSCDS voted onto the committee at the last A.G.M. are listed below.
Chairman : Ann Pinder 01482 - 881942
It was good to welcome again Pat and Peter Clark who are both internationally-renowned teachers and musicians. We all looked forward to the Day School knowing how much we had enjoyed the teaching of Pat and Peter's music last year, and we were not disappointed.
Pat had devised a new dance for the morning, "Johnny Cope", to the tune of that well-known Jacobite song. With Pat's expert tuition and Peter's sympathetic playing - what a difference being able to learn the steps at varying speeds - we were able to put on a good performance at the end of the morning. You may see it at next year's ceilidh.
There were 17 students in the morning at the Beginners' Class and 15 stayed on for the Intermediate I Advanced Class in the afternoon. The dance chosen for the afternoon was "The Auld Brig" by Jackie Johnstone. It was challenging and sorted out the Advanced from the Intermediate, and now we know what we are aiming at! It was a lovely dance when we saw it properly done. You may get a solo of that at the ceilidh!
In all, it was a very tiring but enjoyable day. At the evening dance it was possible to pick out those who had danced all day. The brain and feet were tired and muscles we didn't know we had, ached but we danced on to Ann's excellent programme. We look forward to next year's Day School. Meantime, if anyone wants to join us in Beverley, 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month, you would be very welcome.
Jean Mcinnes, Hessle.
The following message was sent to us on the occasion of our 30th Anniversary Ball:
The Management board of the RSCDS have asked me to send their good wishes to the York and North Humberside Branch for a successful ball.
The board recognises the contribution made by branches to Scottish dancing, and would like to thank all of those who have been involved in the branch during the last thirty years.
We hope that everyone present tonight has both a memorable and a very enjoyable evening.
Malcolm L. Brown, on behalf of the Management Board.
Firstly, a message from May:
May Johnson would like to thank everyone who attended Ian's funeral and all those who sent kind messages of sympathy. The total amount donated to St. Catherine's Hospice was £668.30.
I didn't know Ian nearly as well as Bill Bishop, who has written a tribute to Ian below. I did want to say something myself too, and I have also included part of Barbara Caldicott's obituary for the Leeds newsletter.
When there were not many of us of "our" generation when I first began dancing "away from home", those of us now in our 50s got to know each other quite well on the dance floor. Ian was always a nice dancer, and a good partner, steering you round with a very light touch. I can't recall when I first got to know May and Ian better than just as dance partners, but at some point we discovered a mutual love of Scottish traditional music, and Ian, May and I went to several concerts by the Battlefield Band together, some with Bill and Maureen Bishop as well. Ian, always so very courteous and well-mannered, had often seemed quite reserved, but I discovered a different side to him as he'd confidently go up and have long chats with Alan Reid - and then introduce me! Then, of course, there was the famous occasion when we met Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham at the Stephen Joseph theatre - Ian had grown up with Aly on Orkney, but Ian had gone to play football while Aly practiced the fiddle! Ian had a great knowledge of folk music and encouraged me to listen to the likes of Alison Kinnaird, of whom he made me a few tapes. Again, I'd thought him very serious at first, but as I got to know him better I discovered a really subtle sense of humour and joy in life. I am very glad that I knew Ian - my deepest condolences to May, on behalf of us all.
Ian Johnson - A Tribute
Ian Johnson died on the on the 2 nd of April in Dundee; it is especially sad that he was aged only fifty six. Born in Lerwick in the Shetland Isles he never lost his love of Scotland and things Scottish. Indeed it was Ian and May's intention to retire to Scotland before being so tragically struck down by the fatal disease which he bore with fortitude, optimism and cheerfulness.
Having been in the army and the CSOS he was far traveled and indulged his hobbies abroad, outdoors the Maclehose Trail in Hong Kong and wearing out boots in Ascension Island. It was in Bahrain that he met May whom he married in Scotland. Scottish Country Dancing started in the Bahamas progressing to Balls in Hong Kong. Returning to this country they resumed dancing in Scarborough making regular trips to Leeds to dance at the Club and the Branch and elsewhere.
That he was keen is apparent in the distance travelled and he brought to dancing the enthusiasm and thoroughness that he applied to his many other interests: music, photography and computers; combining them to great effect.
He was unstinting in his concern for others and his generosity knew no bounds; I am sure that we all have been enriched for knowing him. That he was well regarded by his fellow dances was evinced by the number who bade him farewell. Our deepest and sincere sympathies go to May.
Bill Bishop, Scarborough
It is with great sadness that we heard of the death of Ian Johnson. Ian and May have been great supporters of the Club for many years, travelling from Scarborough to dance with us. Ian has been MC for us several times at St. Chad's and also at the Autumn Weekend, and guided us with his quiet expertise. He has organised walks for the Autumn Weekend and produced colourful maps for all those taking part. He was enthusiastic about all aspects of Scottish Dancing: - being MC for us, being generous with his fine collection of music, giving us dancing-based quizzes at the Autumn Weekend and at Higham Hall in the Lake District where we see the New Year in with dancing. He will be greatly missed by the Scottish Dancing Community, for his mischievous sense of humour and for being a pleasure to with. We are enriched by the ways has touched all our lives. Our thoughts are with May and we hope to see her dancing again soon.
Barbara Caldicott, Leeds SCDC
NEWSLETTER No. 106 September 2006
In the Chairman's letter, Ann wrote that one of the things she had most enjoyed in recent years was travelling to other branches and being able to enjoy their company and friendship, all due to Scottish Country Dancing. Some of us have danced in other parts of England and Scotland, and though we've known no-one there at first, our dancing has proved to be a key to admittance, a kind of universal passport - literally so in the case of Malcolm and Helen, the Russells, the Clarks and others who've been able to dance abroad, often in places where they don't speak the language. Dancing thus becomes an international language without words.
You sometimes hear people say "Oh, we dance that a lot down our way" or "You dance a totally different set of dances up/down here", and that is even with a "common currency" of dances from the RSCDS canon. If the RSCDS continues with the idea that it will not publish an annual book of dances, it worries me that the dances we all have in common will gradually be nudged out by dances only known in one particular area. This I think is a problem with dance programmes which do not have a clear majority of RSCDS dances, or ones with a long history like Mairi's Wedding and The Irish Rover: it's very difficult for the interchange of dancers between areas and branches which we often enjoy. Not that a few local dances shouldn't be present at all! If a dance is good enough, then let it appear.
In the past there have been different styles of dancing, and the rare archive films I've seen have been fascinating in this respect. One of the few surviving "regional" differences is the Edinburgh two-handed turn in skip-change, or so I'm told. Some of the different ideas around on finishing steps are also thought to originate from different regional traditions; different groups and areas have different ideas on what's important, or on what they like. Yet we can still go to Japan, Melbourne, Ontario or Inverness and join in dances we do at home, and I think this is something wonderful which the RSCDS has given us, making our lives richer and less parochial. (And yes, I always was a bit of a romantic!)
On a different note, you should have noticed that the paper and print quality of Broun's Reel has improved dramatically, since it is no longer produced on roneo at the Willerby Church office but at home on a super-duper printer by Rosemary. This may lead to some experiments in presentation/production style in the next few issues as I play around with the format! We usually follow the sequence editorial-reports & letters-dance programmes-member news,and we would still include all of those sections. Producing an A5 sized booklet might reduce or increase postage costs in accordance with size, weight and recent increase in postal charges. Many thanks to Rosemary for all her efficient and uncomplaining work.
The first time that we went to Summer School our application was, as usual, a little on the late side. We did get places but had to stay in "New Hall". It was a thoroughly enjoyable week with cramped but adequate accommodation, excellent food and easy access to all the dancing venues. However, all our friends kept telling us, how much more we would enjoy staying in University Hall complex which was solely occupied by dancers, rather than the mix of short stay visitors, golfers and other courses to be found at "New". On this occasion our application was not that much earlier but we were fortunate to be allocated a room in University Hall.
Any long distance drive is always a trying experience and this was no exception. Armed with the AA route finder instructions we set off up the A1 only to be diverted off it due to a road accident a little way beyond Scotch Comer. Having been diverted off the route there were no instructions as to where or how we could rejoin it! It was a case of following our intuition and vague memories of the geography of the area. In the end the route was to go through the Tyne Tunnel and back onto the Al above Newcastle. Once round the Edinburgh bypass the thought is that the journey is over, but this is not quite the case as there is still about another hour's driving to go. Why not let the train take the strain, using the Senior rail card and the early booking discount it may well be cheaper and less stressful? The theory is good but in practice Sunday is not a good day to travel. Railtrack or whatever the current authority is called tend to use Sunday for essential engineering work with the result that Ian Russell starting from almost the same point as us took three hours more for his journey than we did.
The room in University Hall was not en suite, but it was larger than the previous room and the toilet and washing facilities on the same floor were more than adequate. For the past fifteen years or so our holidays have been mainly hill walking or cycle touring where accommodation can range from occasional luxury to downright primitive we tend to travel light and be relatively undemanding.
Information on all classes and activities was always easily available. The RSCDS staff and volunteers were very friendly and helpful. The shop was well stocked with RSCDS and non RSCDS books, CDs and dance instructions. It was extremely easy to get carried away and finish with a hefty bill for must have purchases when there is such a large range of material on display. The James Senior shop was open for two hours on four days of the week and did a roaring trade. The making of dance shoes is not an exact science, which makes it important to try on the shoes to obtain the best possible fit. They were promoting the use of insoles as a means of obtaining increased comfort. It seemed unlikely that a 23 mm layer of plastic, no matter how expensive, would make a vast amount of difference, but perhaps they should be tried before they are condemned.
Speaking to some of the older dancers made us realise that there had been many changes over the years. In Miss Milligan's day the ladies' accommodation was distinctly off limits to the males. It was possible to carry a lady's luggage to the doors of Wardlaw but not beyond. Meals are now self-service with no formal occasions. At the first dinner the new intake for week four was welcomed by Linda Gaul who suggested that we should mix as much as possible rather than sit with our own group at meals. This certainly added interest and taught us that many of the problems that we face are fairly universal. We are fortunate that English is a universal language enabling us to have conversations with dancers from all round the world. The only group that have problems were the Japanese who tend to stick together and only have one or two in the group who act as interpreters. Having said this I don't think that I would fare any better if I were to attend a similar event in Tokyo, and I would probably not have sufficient courage to venture that far. Several dancers from North America were also musicians and had brought instruments with them. I wondered how they fared on their return journeys as the bomb scare for transatlantic flights meant that they would have been unable to take instruments as hand luggage and expensive violins would not stand up to rough treatment by baggage handlers.
Classes in the many and varied venues throughout the town appeared to go very well. I did not hear any significant grumbles about the quality and content of the classes. From a personal point of view I was faced with too many options. I had wanted to attend classes which dealt with the problems of teaching and imparting skills. Unfortunately that class did not have enough applicants for the first part of the week, and in the second half of the week I was only able to attend part of the morning class as I was already involved with the Highland class.
There were the usual evening dances in hall but on this occasion we decided that we would attend some of the dances held locally during the Summer school. Marian Anderson played for a dance in St. Andrews while Colin Dewar played for the dance at Cupar. Both were well worth attending for the music alone. The lady MC at Cupar deserved an award for tolerance, as the locals were even more unruly and difficult to control than Y & NH at their worst. Having said that I would not mind struggling to control our dances if we could have an attendance of over one hundred.
Lesley Digby arranged a coach and a block booking for the Edinburgh Branch RSCDS fringe event Dancing Forth on Wednesday evening. This was very popular with many more takers than places available. The venue of Edinburgh Academy with the circular central dancing area surrounded by tiered seating was ideal. The dancing programme arranged by Margo Priestley, Andrew Johnstone and Grant Bulloch was very slick, with dances blending into each other to make interesting formations and dancers slipping into and out of formations with changes of dance and tempo. The music and song provided by Mo Rutherford,Neil Copeland and Willie Johnstone was equally enjoyable, displaying all their considerable talents.
The Scottish Tourist Board organises the dance in the Younger Hall on Thursday evenings. If one is unable to get a ticket the only other way to gain access is to be in one of the demonstration teams provided by the RSCDS or to get a returned ticket from one of the demonstrators. Herein lies a tale. The country dance team was drawn from the Advanced class, the Step dance from the Advanced class with more than a sprinkling of teachers included The Highland team consisted of all the Intermediate and Advanced class which in my innocence I had joined. Our group contained three Russians, one Italian, five Scots and four English. Our medley consisted of Strathspey and Highland Reel, Sword Dance (for three) and a finishing routine involving high cuts, travelling steps in reel time and back steps. The twenty-year-old Russians had a great time and looked superb but my crumbling hip joints and rapidly fading recent memory made this an unforgettable experience which is not likely to be repeated in public!
The Saturday dance at the Younger Hall was an enjoyable event, which marked the conclusion of Linda Gaul's tenure as director of Summer school. The next director John Wilkinson was M C for the evening and the music was provided by the musicians who had played for the classes, sometimes as individuals and sometimes as a band. Another memorable evening to conclude a most enjoyable week.
Next year will be different as the University Hall complex is due to be refurbished and the accommodation is likely to be in the town at one of the other colleges. If you have not been to Summer school we would thoroughly recommend it. There is something for everyone irrespective of your dancing ability; the company is friendly and the atmosphere superb.
George Edwards, Willerby
We were based in the Wilfred Laurier university in Waterloo, near Toronto - this was the first time TAC had used this air-conditioned university, and we were very grateful because the outside temperatures were very high. Everyone was in a spacious single study bedroom, with a shared, interconnecting bathroom - no problem for Helen and me, but we did hear a few plaintive cries asking for their door to be unlocked from the other side!
The course started on the Sunday evening with a barbeque, followed by an orientation session where teachers, musicians and staff were introduced. The rest of the evening was followed by a dance and finished (as it did every evening) with a session in the party room with free refreshments, where we got into a very earnest discussion about music with Bobby Brown, the Canadian Scottish dance band leader.
The next day we started with the classes - every morning we had classes, with a different teacher for the first four days, all of them excellent, and a variety of solo musicians, so variety was the name of the game. In the afternoon there were optional classes, ranging from beginner's highland to English country, not forgetting a special "individual personal criticism" class which I decided to miss!
During the week a total of 29 individuals were working away towards their teaching qualifications (they had already been working at it for a week when we arrived!), and during the week you could go and stooge for them, either in the morning or the afternoon - I joined in one afternoon session - and each time you stooged a sticker was placed on your name badge. Of the 160 students on the course a total of 80 people stooged at one time or another (some people had several stickers on their badge).
There was some form of dancing every night - on the Monday we had a costume night, with a Shakespearian theme, with everything from Cleopatra to a shipwreck (made dancing a little tricky), but it was all great fun.
On the Wednesday afternoon a couple of trips were organised to nearby towns - we went by school bus, just as in the Simpsons, to the town of Stratford; it even has its own river Avon with swans, and a theatre. We had a very pleasant afternoon buying souvenirs, sitting outside having a drink, and watching the swans.
In the evening Ruth Jappy took us in a session of Old Tyme dancing, which turned out to be great fun - I could even be seen at one time trying to tango with a young lady from Japan.
On the Thursday night we had a ceilidh, with the usual wide array of unexpected talent, including a piper who suddenly found bubbles coming out of his pipes. I did my bit by joining up with one of our new friends, as he played while I performed the Broom Dance.
Saturday night began with everyone dressed up for the dinner, (with free pre-dinner drinks), and then the final ball which didn't finish until nearly midnight. Not that that stopped people from partying on into the night afterwards.
The final session on the Sunday morning was a combined class for everyone who was still around, with the three teachers taking a dance in turn.
It was pretty eventful week - I haven't mentioned that for the first three days they were busy removing the roof insulation, which caused more than a few problems for the teachers and the organisers. Or the session we had with Torf and his "Reel machine" (a series of wooden disks and loops to illustrate what really happens in a reel of three / four).
Helen sat and observed most of the classes (unless it got too cold or too noisy), and danced a few dances in the evenings - but throughout the week she said she felt included.
We met up with a few old friends, some we had met before our trip to Canada, and some we had met in Canada before we arrived at the school, but more importantly we made a lot of new friends - isn't SCD wonderful!
Some pictures of the course are available (for those people with web access) at http://tac-rscds.org/index.php?module=photoalbum&PHPWS_Album_op=view&PHPWS_Album_id=4
DAY SCHOOL & EVENING DANCE, STOCKTON ON FOREST, 7th OCTOBER
This year we will repeat last year's popular formula, with an afternoon school only followed by a high tea and the evening dance. Members and previous attendees will have had an application form through the post; further application forms are available from Helen Brown.
The afternoon school will be taught by Helen Russell, with music from Pat Clark. The class will be held from 2.00 to 5.15, with a refreshment break, and will cost £7.00. High Tea is available at £4.00 (please book in advance). The evening dance, to Alan Ross and his band, will run from 7.30 to 11.00; again light refreshments are provided. If you attend the class you get a discount of £1 on the evening dance; otherwise, the full price is £8.00.
Catering for the Day School: If you can offer any help with catering for the High Tea, please contact Jean McInnes, who would be delighted to hear from you.
WEKEND SCHOOL, Cairn Hotel, Harrogate, 9 - 11 February 2007
Accommodation for the Weekend is fully booked. There will be a limited number of tickets available for Branch members only for the Saturday evening dance to Ceol na h'Alba. Details in December's Broun's Reel .
STEP CLASS, BEVERLEY
Sheila's class has begun again on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month at St. Nicholas Church Centre in Holmechurch Lane, Beverley, starting at 8.00 pm. Although this has been a very popular class for the last few years, unfortunately the first night saw a very low attendance. Please try to get there if you can, as otherwise we may lose this class which some of us enjoy so much!
It was with great surprise and sadness that we recently heard of the death of May O'Brien. May had danced with the branch for several years, mainly in the Pickering and York area, before moving to Eire a few years ago. She had been ill for about a year, and although early treatment had looked promising, she passed away in early July. The letter we received from Maureen Chevens explained how, even though she was very ill, she still managed to get to her son's wedding a week earlier, as well as insisting that the local dance group hold their usual dance in the Kilgarvon village hall. She had become very involved with the local group in Eire, having been elected Secretary at the last AGM, and had taken on the work of categorising their CD collection of over 60 CDs - and she rang me earlier this summer to explain that her tape player had eaten a tape and to ask if I could send her a replacement.
May had kept up with her contacts in the York area, and even attended our Harrogate weekends - her friends in both the branch and in Eire will miss her, and we send our sympathy to her husband and family.
Christine Goodfellow was a founder member of the Branch and a Life member of the RSCDS. When the Branch was formed she lived in Driffield and danced with George Main's group in the town. A few years later she married and moved to York, but other commitments prevailed and she no longer danced though she still kept a keen interest in the Society. As she said a couple of years ago, she felt a Life member of the RSCDS meant a Life member of the RSCDS.
I first met Christine 40 years ago at the York Highland Ball held in the Assembly Rooms and we met up at other big dances in the area like Scarborough and Harrogate. Christine was a very nice dancer and we missed her when she decided not to come dancing any more.
Christine had not been well in recent years and developed a brain tumour. She died in June.
Helen Brown, York
Pocket editions of the RSCDS dances are being phased out and will not be reprinted once stock has been sold.
The Pocket Edition for Book 42 - 45 is for sale at approximately £3 (slightly less for members). If you would like a copy to complete your set or to save you carrying 4 big books, I intend to send an order in to HQ in the near future. If you would like to have one, please let me know as soon as possible. Payment may be made on receipt.
Helen Brown, York
Note from the editor:
I still have some pocket editions from Clare and Jock - secondhand but free.
NEWSLETTER No. 107 December 2006
So, Christmas is coming, and after an incredibly busy period at school, this editorial is being written rather closer to Christmas than usual. With Christmas presents in mind, I wondered what kind of presents I could give to my fellow dancers. Hmmm, not an easy task, so, in no particular order, here goes!
I thought I'd begin with Brenda George, but she thought she wouldn't recognise a new version of Mike which said "Of course, you're right, dear". I'd give my Monday class a radar which would keep them from dancing on top of the chairs at the side - if you saw us, you'd know why. I think that my class could also do with a different selective memory - one that remembers the correct instruction given three or four times, and not the mistake made once! I'd also give them a top-up supply of the forgiveness they show when I do get the odd thing wrong, or when I say something that less nice people might take offence at. Here's my list:
For Helen Brown: another room in the house, just for all the SCD stuff.
For Jean: a few more brain cells (I know where there are some as-new, never used ones)
Two presents for Helen Russell - first, a guidebook to Italy, since she's teaching there so often, and second, a notebook so that she can write the definitive guidebook to SCD in Italian.
For readers of Broun's Reel, editorials that make sense, make them think or make them laugh.
For Michael East, in recognition of his annual contribution to Broun's Reel, a Spanish text book called Listos .
For anyone who wants to build a wall, I carry a few stone round with me that I'd love to give away. (For myself, the ability to tell jokes that are funny, instead of efforts like that one!)
For Pat Clark, 26 hours in a day. She already does more in 24 hours than anyone I know!
For Rosemary, patience, because I must have exhausted most of hers.
For Malcolm and Helen Brown, some extra pages in their passport. Hmmm - they could do with a map of Dunnington as well, just in case they forget where their house is!
For the RSCDS in general, many more young people to take up dancing, so that it'll still be there when I reach the age that some of my class are now.
For non-dancers in their teens, 20s and 30s, the discovery of Scottish Country Dancing and all the wonderful times it can bring you.
And more seriously, if I could, I'd give you the promise of good health and happiness for the year ahead. Whatever you give or receive this Christmas, give it with love, as I give you my very best wishes.
DAY SCHOOL. 2006
I can't call this a report on the Day School as it is now two months since it took place, and Joyce has just asked me to write something as the deadline is today! I shall therefore call it "Memoirs of the Day School".
I remember it as a happy occasion when 33 students ( or perhaps we are now called learners to be politically correct) gathered at Stockton-on-Forest to be taught by Helen Russell accompanied by Pat Clark, both of whom are members of our Branch and well-acclaimed by the Society. We knew we were lucky to have them both.
Right from the start Helen put her own stamp on the class. The warm-up led to the formations of the dances, after we had learned how to count and go clockwise! We all did our best footwork, but what I remember best was how we were reminded of the courtesies of dancing - looking at one another (instead of at the floor)and using hands to help one another in a graceful way (e.g. don't have the other hand waving in the breeze). It was all very helpful. I don't remember ever being told (even by Miss Allie Anderson at school) the correct way to hold hands for three hands across. Helen, we are still remembering to do these things properly, and to get the phrasing right.
Helen amused us with anecdotes of other revered teachers. The only one I remember was Bill Ireland's interpretation of rights and lefts. When a man and woman meet they flirt, two women are catty but I can't remember what two men do. Can you?
Pat's music was as usual inspirational and she always knew exactly what Helen wanted. We were finding the afternoon tiring as it was longer than the usual session, but Pat raised our spirits with a rousing last tune and we finished with a flourish.
The evening dance was well attended and I heard that everyone enjoyed it. I was very sad to have to leave very reluctantly, because of a family crisis, just as the band struck up.
Jean Mclnnes, Hessle
Many congratulations to Pat Clark, now of Kingussie but still a branch member, who was awarded a Scroll by the RSCDS at the Annual Conference at Aberdeen in November. Pat was nominated by the Committee for all her work in both teaching and accompanying Scottish Country Dance and Ladies' Step-Dance.
BRANCH CEILIDH. 27th JANUARY 2007. STOCKTON ON FOREST
The annual Branch Ceilidh will be held on 27th January (giving at least another week to polish up those turns!) at its usual venue, the village hall in Stockton-on-Forest. As last year, we are suggesting that turns last approximately 5 minutes - this seemed to work well; the only request so far has been for more Scottish dances, so we shall endeavour to put these in. However, most of the programme should still be accessible to beginners, visitors and occasional dancers. Usual admission prices of £3 (£4 to non-members) still apply, and you are asked to bring contributions to a Faith Supper. (Last year's experiment of a Burns Supper was successful but will only happen occasionally.) Please provide Joyce Cochrane (this year's MC) with details of any turns. Many thanks in advance!
Having scrapped the first five ideas for the editorial this time - the first and third were dreadfully self-indulgent, appealing to an audience of one, the second and fourth were too short, and I'd done the fifth before - I discovered that instead of thinking of idea number six, I'd spent a lot of time just playing about with names of dances, and these kept intruding into the development of the editorial. In the end, I realised that the names themselves were going to be the subject.
Dances come from very different sources, and from quite a wide period of history. Nevertheless, some themes can be easily identified in both older and contemporary dances. The first group that occurred to me consists of those dances named after people: some named in tribute to a family member (Miss Suzanne Barbour, the Laird of Milton's Daughter), to friends both living and departed, like our own Clare's Dance. In the past, when dances were named after an influential person, it was often a person of some local importance, like the Duchess of Gordon or Lady Sophia Anne of Bute - though what was special about the Duchess of Atholl's slipper? Nowadays, dances are more often named after influential dancing teachers or RSCDS dignitaries- Miss Gibson's Strathspey and Mrs. Stewart of Fasnacloich , though perhaps The Earl of Mansfield fits both categories. I rather like J.B.Milne , named after a popular cinema owner!
Then there are the dances named after places, either natural well-loved places: think of all those Braes, Balquidder , Mellinish and Breadalbane, to name but a few, or the built environment. Cramond Bridge was named after a Teacher Training College near Edinburgh where Scottish country dancing was on the curriculum. Hopetoun House is perhaps the built equivalent of naming a house after the local Earl; Bedrule is an example of a wistful look back into family history.
Many dances, particularly those we have from the 18th century, did not have their own names at all, but were named after the tune they were danced to, like The Fairy Dance and The Back o' Bennachie ; the Irish Rover is the modern version which springs to mind. Surely "I'll Gang Nae Mair tae Yon Toon " must have been a song title at one time? Some have a literary rather than a musical connection, like Fergus Mclvor (a Walter Scott character), or a connection with a legend - Bratach Bana and The Phantom Piper. It's noticeable that these all tend to be more modern dances. The tendency to name dances in Gaelic also seems recent: are earlier dances all highland or step dances?
Another modern trend has been to commemorate events, on private and grand scales both, from Royal Wedding to Anniversary Reel. Neil Gow's Farewell to Whisky may be named after the tune, but is a very endearing commemoration! Pipe tunes have often commemorated military events, but there is a substantial group of dances with military connections too: not only Reel of the 51st, but also Reel of the Royal Scots, 1415, and Angus MacLeod. Then there's the sheer quirkiness of Saw Ye My Wee Thing - surely another song tune? And finally, can anyone tell me why you'd name any dances after a fishing fly? And which dance is that? (Not You, Malcolm!)
HAVE I LEFT A CARBON FOOTPRINT. OR IS THAT JUST SLIPSTOP DUST I SEE ON THE FLOOR?
As I have mentioned in the past, Susan and I dance at many venues, mainly in Yorkshire, but not exclusively. As might be expected, we find that the programmes to which we dance in the different regions reflect local dancers preferences both for the dances used, and for the way in which they form the programme .
At some places the programmes come from one, sometimes always the same, compiler. Elsewhere, perhaps 18 people will contribute to the resulting 18 dances in the programme . Again, the programme may be the result of deliberations by a small group of dancers. From the nature of Scottish Country dancing, it must be expected that its exponents will have their own ideas about compiling programmes . Of course they know all about programmes . Of course they do. And, again, of course, it shows when they are charged with the production of a programme . Favourite titles fill the list of dances, with a passing acknowledgement of the concept that there should some each of reels, jigs, and strathspeys . But of the arrangement of a list of dances into a programme I have written before. If instead of writing, I had been speaking, and if I ate porridge, I could have used my breath to better effect. The main trait discernible in programme devisers is that they please themselves, and as my old granny used to say: if you please yourself, at least someone is pleased. As always, there are one or two notable exceptions.
At the evening dance itself, it is interesting to note the many different dancing techniques. I have always gained much instruction, even delight, in watching the relaxed and accurate footwork of fellow dancers. In my early dancing days I had great difficulty with the pas-de-basque step, which I started with what I can only describe as a convulsive kick. Eventually the step was mastered (at least to my satisfaction) by close observation of others. Teachers did not seem to understand my problem and were not able to help - this was possibly due to the fact that I did not myself know what was my problem so that I was not able to pose a question that could be answered. By observation, and almost by accident, I stumbled on what was for me the crux of the matter: the setting step starts before the initial beat. We all may benefit from watching other dancers. Particularly worth watching are those few, young enough and agile enough, to have developed an attractive style of dancing. Then there are those older ones who have retained their skills. From them we can learn. Just as we kindly ignore the travel steps in which the feet pass and do not close, and the pas de basque of two beats instead of three, because that is what we achieve ourselves. It is a sign of the ageing composition of the body of dancers that so many of us can no longer bounce about as once we were wont to do, to our great regret. With age, steps give way to timing, which includes the ability to be in the right place at the right moment and heading in the right direction. And eventually we graduate to the level I have reached. For just as I was beginning to feel that I was mastering the steps and even the timing, physical disabilities have downgraded me to being just another attendee at the dancing. Sometimes I think that Scottish Country Dancing should carry a health warning.
Of the dances themselves, I am always surprised that there are some that consistently appear on programmes year after year. Especially when I consider the rate at which new dances appear. I have heard calls for a moratorium on new dances. But with the increasing opportunities for publishing new dances (the internet and new magazines both providing extra showcases for new devisers) a moratorium is as likely as good, well-chosen, varied, and considerate programmes are few. Trends in popularity can be seen, as dances slip in and out of favour, but old favourites remain popular. Considerations of where dances are danced leads me to the conclusion that that the popularity of a dance is not reflected necessarily by the number of times I come across it during the year. Some dances are encountered at many different places over a wide area. Others are found in relatively few venues, where they seem to be danced almost to exhaustion. As an example I would cite The Irish Rover and The Sailor. These dances often appear in a "Top Twenty" list. This year, they both enter at number 15, along with several other dances. However, the Rover was danced in 10 different venues, whilst the Sailor was danced in but 7. So, which is the more widely popular? The thought arises: how to include the effect of the range over which a dance is used in a measure of how widely popular is that dance. Last year I tried to assess popularity by considering not just how many times the dance had appeared but also the number of years for which it had been available to dance. This year in an attempt to measure the width of appeal of a dance I append a second table in which a score has been allotted to each dance. This depends firstly on the number of times it appeared on programmes , which I call its frequency, F. Secondly it depends on the number of different venues at which I had the opportunity to dance it. This number I have called V. To stress the effect that the number of venues has on its score of a dance, I have calculated the score by multiplying together the numbers FxVxV . (All right, FV 2 if you insist. The Examination comes later). As might be expected the resulting list (List 2) produces a different order.
The first list shows which dances were danced most frequently and includes the 21 dances appearing more than 10 times in the 94 dancing sessions I have managed to attend whilst dancing at 20 different dancing centres . The 94 programmes were made up from just 425 different dances, of which 58 were new to me, and 176 were met with but once. Once again, in the Notes column numbers in brackets indicate the position of the dance in last year's list, R means that the dance is reappearing after an absence, FA marks the first appearance of that dance in these lists.
I stress again that these lists are compiled from dances which have appeared on programmes I have danced, and that not only do they embrace venues and dance groups from many areas, but they will not include all the dances used at any given venue. The top five dances include two from last Year's top five. There are four first appearances. When The Chequered Court appeared in the "Top Twenty" some years ago it was the first dance to appear in the List during its year of publication. This year there are two inclusions from Book 45. Incidentally, the change in the dance publication policy of the RSCDS gives rise to many thoughts: is it really just a cost cutting exercise; is it a recognition by the Society that it no longer has any control over dance devisers; will the bi-annual magazine satisfactorily fill the gaps left by the old Bulletins, and books of dances; is it just an attempt to be different; am I a cynic? Yeeaahh ! Back to the List. There are 5 strathspeys , 7 jigs, but 9 reels. 10 dances come from RSCDS publications.
List 2, showing dances that are more widely danced, follows:
For those for whom, say, Shiftin' Bobbins or Joie de Vivre is a dance they feel deserves a higher place, I would point out that 21/21 is a ranking significantly higher than that achieved by the 404 dances which failed to make the cut, not to mention the many thousands of dances which were not danced by me at all. Some of which may be even more popular (however defined) in their region. We shall never know.
Where's the graph? Susan East
Many congratulations to Laura and Duncan Brown on the birth of their first daughter, Catriona Elizabeth, who was born on Friday 19th January 2007. Catriona is Malcolm and Helen's third grand-daughter. Best wishes to the new parents and to baby Catriona.
STEP-CLASS. DUNNINGTON. 28th APRIL
The Step class will take place on April 28th, at its usual venue, the Reading Room in Dunnington. Our teacher this year will be Kathy Lawmon, who taught Ladies' Step at St. Andrews last summer, and who has agreed to come all the way from the south coast for us. She will be accompanied by Patricia Cass from Newcastle, who used to play for Renee Fidler's class there. The morning session begins at 10.30 a.m. and is for beginners and intermediates; the afternoon session, from 2.00 p.m., is for intermediates and advanced dancers. Each session will cost £5. Further details and application forms have been circulated to previous attendees; if you've not been before but are interested, please contact Joyce Cochrane (01482 871790).
The dance in April takes place in Dunnington on Saturday 28th April, beginning at 7.30 p.m., with the AGM to be held during the interval. For those who've not been, the AGM is not a lengthy affair, and the programme [a really good one, in my view - so get there!] is slightly shorter to accommodate it. Please bring your contribution for a Faith Supper: remember that disposable plates are preferred. Programme
BRANCH LUNCH &/or WALK
For some years we have held both the Branch Dinner and then more recently our annual picnic, neither of which were held last year. It seemed that people felt that the Dinner had become rather expensive, and the picnic always had a limited (if fervent!) appeal, and we had decided to try a walk/pub lunch. This could either be on a Saturday or Sunday, or even weekday during half-term holiday; an ordinary weekday might be possible if enough preferred this option, though people still at work might not be able to go. We still feel the Huggate area would be a good centre, though other suggestions are very welcome. The lunch could be preceded or followed by a walk, completely at the wish of the participants! Please let us know of your interest, with preferences for day, time of year, venue, walk/no walk etc. Talk to anyone on the committee or reply to Broun's Reel. A nil response will be seen as lack of interest rather than not enough time to think about it!
YORK & N.H & LEEDS RSCDS JOINT BALL. 17th NOVEMBER 2007
Leeds RSCDS approached our Branch committee with the suggestion that we might like to hold a joint ball with them, and we thought it was an idea worth trying out. Leeds have already booked George Meikle and his band for 17th November, and we have agreed to share this date with them (so our Branch gets two balls in the same calendar year!). The current venue proposed is the West Park centre in Spen Lane, Leeds, but Leeds RSCDS are willing to change if a venue closer to all of us including the south of our region is found. Again, please pass on any comments or ideas to the committee.
YES IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!
You will notice at the back of your Broun's Reel this time not just your membership form, but also an additional form for nominating someone as a committee member. As usual, some members will be retiring from the committee this year under the three year rotation system, and will need replacing. It has been great to have new members and ideas in the last couple of years - please do consider it. Being an MC or writing a programme is not obligatory - don't let that put you off!
NEWSLETTER No. 109 MAY 2007
In the past I've written about a certain kind of perceived stuffiness about the RSCDS, and I've also talked about historic links in Scottish Country Dancing; the romantic in me likes to imagine that I could be dancing alongside characters from the 18th century. Rather than demand that the Society should be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, I've tended to politely request that it consider approaching the said century, with only a quiet and wistful "or else..." On the other hand, some things the Society has brought with it from the past are particularly noteworthy and not always on general display in today's society.
So I'm going to redress the balance today by talking about the traditional values which underline what the RCSDS seems to be about. These are not necessarily in any constitution and I don't think you could rule them in; they are probably inherent throughout the Society. Firstly, I think that courtesy and good manners are more in evidence in Scottish Dancing circles than in any other area of my life; it's the kind of old-fashioned value which you cannot buy and which is therefore beyond price. The emphasis put on these in my two Certificate classes may even have been unconscious in the main - thanking the musician was deliberately emphasised, however - but seems to stress that you encourage your class and treat them well at all times. In the main this has been my experience throughout the Society, both in our local branches and at Summer School; I have almost always been treated with charm and courtesy, and I would hope that my class feel that I treat them in the same way. (Well, I have occasionally made gentle fun of someone I know well, but so far they've always taken it the right way!) Most people in the Scottish dancing world seem to value others as people, as individuals, and not just as dancers.
A second important thing that the RSCDS has done is to provide a very safe environment to meet other people socially. When Mrs. Stewart and Miss Milligan set up the RSCDS, they were aware of how many women were without partners, many due to the Great War. So from the start there was an ethos of changing dance partners, of men dancing with a variety of women, of women dancing in men's position, with no stigma attached. Such a contrast to ballroom dancing! In Southern Spain, women can dance " sevillanas " in pairs with another woman or a man in the same way as we do; as a single woman, I've cause to be really grateful to this tradition.
And from the start, so much in the Society has depended on voluntary help. People don't expect to be paid for what they do; at best they can only receive a token. Look at what happens at club level - someone opens up; someone teaches the class, finds music in advance, learns the dances and decides on a programme; someone makes tea and someone washes up - someone even brings the tea and the milk! - Dennis and Peter stay to clear away tables and chairs and shut the gate. Even at St. Andrews, teachers are not paid, even though they can have put in hours of preparation, and until now musicians have played for the love of it all too. A spirit of giving has been fostered, and you can't put a price on that.
I always look forward to reading Joyce's editorials, which are informative, thought-provoking and amusing. I wasn't disappointed by February's but thought you might be interested to hear more about Cramond. The Dunfermline College of Physical Education came to Cramond in 1964 but now is incorporated into Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh and there are houses on the site.
Cramond is an old settlement on the banks of the Firth of Forth and the River Almond. The name comes from Caer Amon (the fort on the River Almond). It is of interest to us dancers as it is associated with not just one dance but three.
There are the remains of an Roman settlement and the kirk is built on the remains of a Roman temple and former Christian churches. The present kirk was built in 1656, incorporating the 15th century tower of the old kirk . It has had various famous ministers, but the minister who interests us was Robert Walker, immortalised by Raeburn as "The Minister on the Loch".
There is a mediaeval defensive tower near the churchyard, thought to have been the summer palace of the Bishops of Dunkeld . It has been restored and is a private house again. There are picturesque old houses and an old inn (1656 above the door) going down to where there used to be a harbour . There has been a ferry between Cramond and the Dalmeny Estate on the other side of the River Almond since 1556. It is still there - a rowing boat. The fare is 20p - 6d. when I was a child - and from there you can walk through the woods to South Queensferry .
Cramond must have been a busy place. There were four iron mills along the river, between 1751 and 1860 employing about 100 people. All that is left of them are some ruins and the mill lades. It is now a pleasant walk past them up to the Twa Brigs.
The busy new bridge carries traffic from Edinburgh to South Queensferry and the North, but on the east side is the Old Cramond Brig used only by pedestrians now. This bridge dates from 1500. Its greatest claim to fame is its connection with Jack Howison . King James V was strolling, incognito, across Old Cramond Brig when he was suddenly set upon by a marauding gang. Without knowing the identity of the King, Jack rescued him, took him into his cottage, dressed his wounds and sent him on his way. Later the King rewarded Jack by granting him the adjoining land of Braehead , in gratitude for his courageous act. In return he was to appear with a basin of water and a napkin whenever a monarch crossed the brig. I believe our Queen was offered this service! The name King James used when travelling incognito - the Guidman of Ballangigh !
Jean Mclnnes, Hessle
When Helen Russell taught our Day School last year, she declined any payment for this, since she wanted to help her own Branch in any way she could. When we protested that we couldn't accept this, she asked us to find another use for the money we would have paid her, and so to this end it was made available as a bursary for younger/newer dancers, the first part going to help Lucy Stewart from York attend the Spring Fling. Here is Lucy's account:
Just before Easter, unbeknownst to most of you, I set off on this year's Spring Fling, a jam packed weekend of dancing, socialising and general merry making for the younger members of the RSCDS and indeed anyone aged 18-35 who wants to dance more. And they really mean more. I don't think I've ever danced quite so much in all my life as you are about to find out!
It really was an adventure to start with, as I decided to take my bike with me on the train to Oxford, a bit of an experiment, but I negotiated various lifts and secret tunnels in York and at the dreaded Birmingham New Street and arrived at the Youth Hostel safely. I had to laugh at myself as I set off cycling in the dark through a city I'd never really been to before with a little internet map clutched in my hand to be read at any available traffic light! My destination, Cheney School, looked as if it was in a straight line, but I hadn't really counted on half of that being a great long slow uphill. Double exercise quotas!
The ceilidh had already begun, I arrived in time to be fortified with interval chocolate biscuits (available in abundance throughout the weekend) and started that peculiar task of introducing myself to people. Lots of people thought it funny I was there without a group, but it's much easier to mix with lots of different people that way. I soon found myself chatting to a group who drove from Glasgow, collecting friends as they came. Then there were the French - quite a party from Lyon, the local Oxford dancers, Germans, Malaysians, Scots, Scandinavians. I think there must have been about 150 in all. It was a lot bigger and considerably more international than I had ever expected.
Officially the evening ended at 10.30 so we could safely tuck ourselves up in preparation for the next day, but lets just say not many people heeded this advice. One of the Oxfordians had a flat conveniently close to the Youth Hostel and there the party resumed. A good chance to mingle and chat and find out what options people had chosen for the classes.
I went for intermediate, and this was a very wise choice as we had the only sprung wooden floor in the whole school! I have never been to any official lessons before, learning my steps and figures from observation and by what feels right for the music. It was hugely instructive - and very interesting - for me to be taught. I'd often wondered about the ballet connection, and how my feet were supposed to be aligned, so it was great to have as our warm up the positions and other movements demonstrated and then practised . We did three different dances that all contained elements of sequences that were part of the evening programme, the only one I can definitely remember the name of was The Ladies of Dunse. And the best part - we had a live accordionist!
At this point, I will admit I skipped class. I know, bad, but it was just a walk through of the evening dances, and I can usually see the pattern of a dance so felt I would survive. Also, it was a gorgeous
day, and never having really visited Oxford before, the architect needed out! Very glad I took the bike, as it allowed me to fly down the hill and start my architectural wanderings. There are some fabulous buildings, old and new, and I had a very enjoyable hour or so exploring before supper.
A quick turn around at the Youth Hostel and then we were all on the bus back up to the sports hall for the evening dance. All sorts on the programme, some I knew (thanks for teaching me Pelorus Jack!) and some I didn't - notably Radcliffe Square which of course must be danced when in the camera city. It includes that amazing formation, Schiehallion Reels, which has exceptional potential for getting in a real knot and looks as if it could never come true, but our set were successful. Green Ginger were playing, and gave us a much appreciated second run through. I don't think I missed one dance, and was whisked around the room by a young Frenchman for the final polka. We were going so fast I almost forgot to breathe!
Some were up till after five in the morning, but there was no way I could hold my head up after about 2 am! We were being instructed on the setting in Broon's Reel at 9.30 on Sunday morning, I've a feeling a fair few were more zombie than human. And how our feet hurt! The hard floor of the sports hall had taken its toll. This class was taken by Ilona who I know is a great friend of Helen, so it was really nice to meet her. Such impeccable footwork! She was quite strict with us, which was good as we could really see the difference in the way that her movements were so precise in comparison to our own not-quite-always-pointed-toes. Exquisite to watch her demonstrating with Sasha.
The final lesson, and for me the most revealing and fascinating, was titled 'Choreography'. I wasn't sure what this would be, but it was easily the best bit. Essentially, it's how to stitch parts of different dances together to create a demonstration dance that looks impressive from all angles outside. We were guided through an example, and then given a list of cribs and told to create our own! There were some rules: we had to change direction at least once, or go from longwise to square once, and liaise with the musicians.
The group I was in chose to start with 12 Coates Crescent, then using some nifty rights and lefts we converted it into the second half of the square set for Summer Assembly. Others had presented before us, and done some very clever progressions. One comment stuck with us though; the group had only one man and were told they should have utilised him better! We were in a similar situation, and had planned to end with a simple circle and back, however I realised that there was potential for our man to slip into the centre and show off his setting steps (a la Eightsome ) as we seven girls circled round and curtsied in to him as we finished. There was a pre-start nail-biting moment while he thought about it, but fortunately he agreed and we got a terrific round of applause!
All that remained were copious thanks to Alice Stainer who had done all the organising and then to eat the splendid lunch put on for us in the school. Thank goodness my train home was direct and I could sleep till York. I thought my legs would have recovered, but I genuinely could hardly walk the next day! Which, I think, is solid proof of the amount of fun I had. Thank you all!
Lucy Stewart, York
Normally in the May edition we include the details of the new committee, with new roles as applicable. However, this time all members of the committee are continuing en bloc, and as there has not been time for a committee meeting between the AGM in April and the branch dance in May, we have not yet elected new officers. Details of the committee will therefore appear in the next Broun's Reel.
Your editorial in the last issue of Broun's Reel surveyed the range of people, places, events etc. from which the names of S C dances are drawn. Here's a new one for you!. The dance is called The Faculty of Actuaries and its compiler claims it is the first to be named after a professional body - which I can well believe!
I read the news in the latest issue of The Actuary, a periodical devoted to matters of interest to the actuarial profession in the UK. Amongst articles dealing with Risk Management and the Bulk Buy-out of Pensions etc was the report of this addition to our terpsichorean repertoire. The dance was conceived by lan Farr, a fellow of the Faculty, to mark the 150 th anniversary of the Faculty with the help of Jeremy Hill, a fellow of the Institute. (The Faculty is the Scottish body, the Institute, the English.) Together they devised the main movements one evening at last year's summer school.
The dance is a 32-bar jig which portrays the main emblems of the Faculty's arms, an owl and an hourglass. The first movement depicts the eyes of the owl. The second portrays "the sands of human time running through the hourglass (as well as the mathematical integral sign and sine curve)". Then there is a St Andrews cross and, finally, a circle representing "the world-wide influence of the Faculty and the global environment in which it operates".
Now reconstruct the dance, Philip!
On 30th March we celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary. In fact we did lots of things on and around that date, including a dinner out with all the family (28 in all), friends dropping in whilst we were 'At home', and a Scottish Country Dance on 7th April in Swanland .
The latter was fantastic - nearly 50 of our dancing friends from the Branch and local clubs came along, in spite of it being a holiday weekend, for a dance with a difference, including a little nostalgic old-time dancing and a game, as well as supper. Many thanks to all who gave or sent their best wishes, cards, etc. Especial thanks to the Branch for the loan of its CD playing gear and "kitchen", to the Wenlock club for a most beautiful basket of flowers, and to all who helped us on the night.
We especially requested no presents, but made available the option of donating to the Hull branch of the Parkinson's Disease Society. The magnificent sum of £275 was donated either at the dance or by those dancers who could not make it. Thanks again. We added this to a similar sum which had been donated at the "At home" event, and the sum of £561 was sent to this worthy cause.
Philip and Mary Ashworth, Kirk Ella, Hull
The Charity Dance this year will be held at Swanland Village Hall on Saturday 9th June, beginning at 7.30 p.m. This year we will be supporting the charity KIDZ, based in Hull and the East Riding. KIDZ helps children with special needs and particularly needs funds to help families from less comfortable backgrounds with children with special needs have a supported holiday. To raise extra money for the charity, there is the usual increase in admission - to £4 for members and £5 for non-members; each group is also asked to contribute just one good prize to the raffle. Please buy an admission ticket in advance (available soon from Rita or committee members) or raffle tickets if you know you can't get there. Please bring your contributions to a Faith Supper - on a paper plate if possible! This programme, which has been chosen by me, will be danced to recorded music:
SCUNTHQRPE SCD CLUB ANNUAL DANCE. 18th MAY
The Scunthorpe Scottish Country Dance Club, long-time friends of ours, are holding their annual dance on Friday 18th May at St. Andrews Church Hall, to the music of lan Slater. The dance begins at 7.00 p.m. and ends at 11.00 p.m. ( tbc ) Admission costs £8.00 and includes a buffet supper. Tickets and further information from:
Mr. C. Redshaw , 37 Appleby Gardens, Broughton, DN20 OBA (Tel: 01652 650439) or Mrs. C. May (Tel. 01652 650513)
As trailed in the last Broun's Reel, we will replace the picnic and branch dinner, neither of which took place last year, with a Branch Lunch. The lunch will be preceded by a walk in the Huggate area; the walk will be led by Gill Hoyle and will leave from the pub car park at 10.15 a.m. It shouldn't be too strenuous (around five miles, pace not too fast) but Gill will try to find a shorter loop for those who just want a short walk. It is also possible to stroll down to the interesting little church with Norman arches and early Gothic windows with nice stained glass. For more information about the walk nearer the time, contact Gill on 01482 645280 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The pub (The Wolds Inn) does a variety of dishes from full meals (steak, gammon, chicken, salmon) to sandwiches, salads and baguettes, and there is a choice for vegetarians: the starters and the specials looked particularly interesting. There was a good choice of hot and cold sweets too. Prices for main courses ranged from £7.50 to £10.50, and portion sizes seem generous. Please let Helen or me know if you would like to have lunch, so that we can warn them roughly what numbers to expect.
It would be perfectly possible to walk independently after lunch and we can provide maps and suggestions. For those just interested in the lunch and not the walk, we would expect to be eating at about 1.00 p.m. (NB the "we" doesn't include me - I'm working!)
St. Luke's Church Hall, Chestnut Avenue
8pm to 10pm £1.50*
Teacher - George Edwards
* This could be reduced to £1.00 dependent on numbers attending
Y & NH / LEEDS JOINT BALL. 17th NOVEMBER:
1. Proceeds from the SUMMER SCOTTISH DANCING could be used to subsidise a coach or minibus to Leeds for the Joint Ball, with George Meikle playing. If you are interested in making use of transport to Leeds, please let George Edwards (01482 657130) or Rosemary Robins (658254) know immediately.
2. Catering for the Joint Ball will take the form of a Faith Supper. More information as soon as it's available.
NEWSLETTER NO. 110 October 2007
A few years ago when Lesley was organising the White Rose Festival in York, we had this wonderful dance in the Assembly Rooms in York. Others had danced there before, but not me, and it's the grandest place I've ever danced, I think. It will be outclassed though by St. George's Hall in Liverpool next year, which is the venue for a dance organized by Liverpool RSCDS in celebration of Liverpool's status as European Capital of Culture next year. For those who don't know, St. George's Hall is the largest neo-classical building in Europe; it has a celebrated mosaic floor which is only open once every so many years, and which I saw as a child (so I doubt they'll be dancing on that!).
When I first started dancing, we used to hold our annual ball at the Milton Rooms in Malton , a vast space with echoes of faded grandeur and a fine floor (though the toilets were pretty awful way back then). There are so many venues that we've all danced in, some grander, some more humble. To me the most valuable feature of any venue is its floor; two of the best I've ever danced on have since become computer suites in libraries, at Gateshead Technical College and at West Park. Don't these people know the value of a really good sprung floor?
Two other good sprung floors of note are at the Younger hall in St. Andrews and at the Civic Centre in Newcastle. The grand hall at Newcastle is a bit like a 20th century take on a mediaeval banqueting hall, only with bigger arrowslits (glazed in modern abstract blue glass, I think). I remember having to go to the toilet there -1 really did have to - and finding they were underneath this great hall; it was strange listening to the bouncing of the Schottische setting of MacDonald of Sleat from below! Another time, I felt the moving of the floor beneath my feet at the Younger Hall as if it were the motion of the waves; and I remember limping in with stiff knees and ankles after a week's hard dancing on hard floors, then to walk out on air after an evening dance at the Younger Hall had cured all the aches and pains.
I've danced in many humbler places, too, with a variety of different floors. I don't like dancing on concrete - who does? - and have you noticed that concrete floors aren't all the same? Some are much harder than others - there's a PhD thesis in there for someone, relating the density of the concrete to the degree of punishment on soles and knees. I'm not a fan of lino , either. Acoustics, toilet and kitchen facilities can all make a difference too. In the end, though, it's the music, the dancing, and all my fellow Scottish Country Dancers that make the venue. In the end, wherever you dance, whether it's a grand Georgian building, a school gym or a church hall, all that matters is that you get there, as often as you can!
TAC - AGM WEEKEND & SCHOOL
Our arrangements this year were an improvement on last year - we managed to time our trip so that we could attend the AGM weekend which precedes the week long school which is organized by TAG (the Teachers Association of Canada). We have been members for a long time, but this was our first AGM - not that surprising, as they are usually held in Canada, and this year it was in Vancouver. The weekend kicked off with a reception and welcome dance, held in the Scottish Cultural Centre, a few minutes walk from the hotel. The food and drinks continued throughout the evening in an area adjoining the dance hall, so late arrivals weren't excluded. We met up with some people we had met before, either at St. Andrews or at TAG last year, and then got down to the serious work of making new friends.
The next morning we had a class, taken by Eric Finlay (who must be starting to feel that he can't get away from us), which was great fun. After lunch we had the actual AGM, where reports were given and motions passed. It was then back to the hotel, to get ready for the evening dinner & dance. When we returned the place had been transformed - the large pleasant hall where we had been dancing in the morning and sitting in the afternoon now had tables of eight or ten set out with white tablecloths and red & yellow serviettes, a motive which was repeated around the room, and on the stage. After collecting our free drinks (and purchasing additional wine) we got on with the dinner. This was followed by a short ceremony when three of us were called up to be awarded our 25-year certificates - we hadn't realized we had been members for so long!
The ball which followed was excellent, helped of course by the superb music of Keith Smith and Muriel Johnstone. (However, when Pat Clark, Helen and I, with some other teachers, managed to make a complete mess of a dance written by Muriel, dancing it just in front of the stage, the smiles almost turned into hysterics). At the end of the evening we all returned to the hotel, for the usual late night session - it is the first time I have been asked by hotel security (along with several others) to move the party to another room where we wouldn't disturb the guests! They certainly know how to enjoy themselves.
On Sunday morning we had a couple of classes in another hall, a short distance away - half went with Eric & Muriel for a session on "music and dance" while the others went with Rosemary Coupe for a session on interpreting historical instructions. After coffee everyone swapped classes, so nobody missed anything.
It was then a case of lunch, followed by a coach trip to the ferry, then a couple of hours on the ferry sailing across from the mainland to Vancouver Island, and then back onto the coach for the journey to Shawnigan Lake School. The school is a private boarding school, with a mixture of buildings, including a large dining hall which looks a bit like the main hall in Hogwarts. The other important feature of the complex is the hills - fortunately they had golf buggies to take people & their cases to where they were sleeping. Then it was down to the barbecue, and of course an opening dance, followed, as on every night, by a gathering in the party room.
So what did we do during the week? Well, classes in the morning, with a different teacher and musician each day. The classes were based around the Hogwarts theme, so Helen & I were in Hufflepuff (the group which had expressed a desire to forget about technique!). We had about
were optional classes in the afternoon, and Peter & Pat, Helen & I, took one of these on the Monday afternoon, teaching our own dances. The Monday night dance was taken by the group from Australia / New Zealand, during which one young girl "signed" a complete dance (she is training to work with deaf children).
Tuesday night was "theme" night, again based around the Harry Potter books, where Helen & I were the MCs. About half the school were in fancy dress, and we had to award prizes - we gave the prize for originality to a girl surrounded by a huge golden ball (with little white wings) - read the book if you haven't heard of a "golden snitch". We gave first prize to someone I didn't recognize, despite meeting him last year, and sleeping in the same block. A blonde, curly headed man with glasses, turned into a man with straight black hair, no glasses, and an expressionless face - a most intimidating Professor Snape ! - thank goodness he returned to normal for the party which followed.
On the Wednesday afternoon we went by coach to Butchart Gardens in Victoria (about an hour away from the school), where the flowers were lovely, the tourists plentiful, and the ice-cream very welcome. That evening instead of Scottish dancing they brought in musicians and a caller, and we did English dancing - (or was it Playford ?) - anyway we did the original version of Red House, which I found quite interesting, and a pleasant change from all that Scottish dancing!
Thursday afternoon I decided I would go to one of the optional classes about "fugues", which was quite a challenge for some of our tired brains - the teacher was Alan Twigg from San Francisco, who we had met on our trip to Russia some years ago. In the evening we had the ceilidh - Peter Clark dressed up appropriately as he sang "Nobody Wants a Fairy ....", Rosemary Coupe danced a recently devised step dance, and I did my bit by singing a song about a double bed & the weather, and then I appeared as the final character showing what happens to someone who doesn't eat their soup (I had to die!) - the other people in the Sketch included lan Souter, the chairman of TAC, and Keith Bark, the vice-chairman, and the words were provided by our friend Gillian from Burlington, near Toronto, who had looked after us last year - they don't have "Hi - Heejuns " in TAC.
Naturally after the ceilidh we had the usual party, this time with a little bit of dancing; I found a broom so Muriel played for me while I showed everyone the broom dance. Jean Dodd did a ladies step dance, which took her all over the room, and somehow we managed to find 10 men to perform Reel of the 51 st -1 persuaded them to turn it into a 5 couple version, which was fine except we had told the band to play for 10 repeats - that is a lot of dancing!
And so the week went on - finishing up with a dinner on the Saturday night (where our table was actually called first to serve itself, despite being placed as far from the food as we could get). At the end of the dinner one young lady, who had received a scholarship from TAC to attend the school, gave a short vote of thanks. This was followed by the ball, music again provided by Muriel & Keith, and everyone in their posh frocks and finery.
Sunday morning completed our time at Shawnigan , as we caught the early coach to Victoria, and caught the helicopter back to Vancouver harbour (another "first" for us) so that we could board our cruise ship for part 2 of our Canadian Trip!
Some of the other features that I noted in my diary were:
Magnetic name badges, so you fix them to anything without having to push a pin through delicate material.
TAG sells Books through TACBooks, and CDs through TACSound. TACBooks are currently being looked after by a husband and wife team, and they sell a huge range of books from all over the world. Similarly TACSound has a vast range of CDs, but this is looked after by one person. Everything was set up and available at the weekend, and then transported across to the island and set up in the school, where it was available for what seemed most of the time - judging by what we spent, it is a very worthwhile exercise!
The school campus is not very well lit at night, so we had been advised to bring torches - for those who hadn't taken any notice (mea culpa) we could buy key rings with a light for about a dollar (circa 50p).
At dinner it was possible to buy drinks from a bar - everything from wine to beer - on a non-profit basis, and this was continued in the party room after the dancing; after an evening of dancing it is surprising how much I enjoyed a cool beer.
All of the dances at both the weekend and the school were "briefed".
We made lots of new friends, including some from Medicine Hat, who I had only previously contacted by email (it is one of the branches that has me as a Management Board contact -1 have now met people from all my overseas branches!) We also made friends with some people from Yellowknife - when we asked where it was he replied, "Go back over the Rockies, "hang a left", and keep going until you get to a lake as big as the Great Lakes" - It is amazing the journeys people will take just to go Scottish Dancing!
Malcolm & Helen Brown, York
SUMMER SCHOOL MUSICIAN'S COURSE. ST. ANDREWS 2007
Although I have been dancing since the age of about five, last year was the first year I made it up to Summer School. Before setting off my mother (Josie Clampitt) warned me to take it easy on the first day as there was a whole week of dancing to get through. Completely ignoring her advice, as usual, I went all out at my first two morning classes, consequently ripped a muscle in my shin and spent the remainder of the week hobbling round and sitting on the side lines watching the other dancers in my class enjoying themselves! My foot swelled up like a balloon and by the Saturday morning I couldn't even make it to the class to watch. However I did discover the party room unused but full of pianos. I then spent a happy hour, with my leg in a bucket of water and ice, playing the piano.
After returning from Summer School, and six weeks of watching dancing I decided to take the playing more seriously and started piano lessons, fondly imagining I would be up to playing at the musician's course by the following August! When the music arrived for the course I was immediately aware that maybe I had been a trifle ambitious and was nowhere near being able to keep up particularly with the reels! Not to be outdone, I searched through the loft for my fiddle that had languished there stringless for several years. Much to my surprise quite a bit came back to me and at a pinch I could get through most of the tunes at a reasonable speed. Having been assured by George Meikle that it would be fine to just join in whatever my standard of playing, I arrived at Summer School with fiddle in tow.
The first day produced several nervous looking musicians with fiddles, accordions and pianos. The teachers were Angela Young, Gordon Simpson and George and they told us not to worry but just to enjoy ourselves. I was pleased to find I was more or less on a par with the other two fiddlers and we merrily scratched and scraped our way through a few sets on the first morning. In the afternoon there was no rest for wicked musicians and we were put into three individual bands. I was in a band with a young lad, Andrew from London on piano and a chap called Arthur from Pittsburgh on accordion. Now the fun started, no hiding behind the other fiddlers!
On the second day it all got a bit more serious and we were expected to work hard and play as if people might want to dance to us! Crikey , those reels were fast. We soon got used to comments such as "you almost got some lift in that set!" and "well it started okay...." One of the best comments from Gordon the fiddle tutor was "you all look as if you are sawing your fiddles in half, use less bow!"
The days went so quickly though and suddenly it was Thursday night when we were to play for the dancing in the Old Diner. While the experienced dancers enjoyed the music of the super David Cunningham Band, some brave souls came and danced to us (including some from our branch I must add). Each band played three sets with expert help from George, Gordon and Angela. What a wonderful experience playing for dancing: I have to admit I would rather play than dance now, I'm hooked! It was a lovely atmosphere in the Old Diner that night and the dancers were really supportive and appreciative.
On the Friday night we played a few tunes at the Ceilidh and I have to mention my poor husband Paul who travelled all the way up from York that day expecting to go to Cupar and dance to George Meikle. Unfortunately for him the plans got changed and after sitting on a train for four hours he then had to endure two hours sitting on a wooden floor watching his wife perform in various strange acts! He's very patient though, even when he found he couldn't dance on the Saturday night either as he wasn't an official Summer School attendee!
On the Saturday night the music students played at the Younger Hall, which was wonderful and nerve racking at the same time. We played Lord MacDonald's Reel, which appears to have far too many notes in it! A fellow fiddler, Ishbel , and I sort of shared the notes between ourselves, I played a few then she played a few and it seemed to work quite well. It was very fast in the rehearsals but we think George upped the tempo even more at the dance and we scarcely had time to draw breath! Amazingly the dancers called for an encore so off we went like the clappers again.
I was exhausted by the end of the week (playing all day and then partying till 2.00am every night takes some doing!), but it was well worth it and I can recommend it to any musicians who fancy playing for dancing.
Wendy Lyons, York
BRANCH WALK AND LUNCH. HUGGATE. JUNE
Early this year it was decided to celebrate the annual dancing get-together in June, with a lunch at The Wolds Inn, Huggate, preceded by a morning walk. I turned up for a relaxing Monday night class at Cottingham when I found myself gently volunteered to lead the walk. At the time I had visions of skipping through the Wolds countryside on a beautiful sunny June morning leading a happy band of dancers.
As one does I put it on the back burner for a while but with the date drawing near my husband and I plus dog sorted out a walk (on a beautiful sunny day) but rejected it because of a large number of frisky bullocks. The following week Jean Mclnnes, myself and two dogs (on a beautiful sunny day) walked and approved an alternative route with no bullocks.
June 16th dawned wet, grey and windy with no prospect of improvement. The weather was so bad that I thought that no one would turn up - however eight stalwart souls turned up at the pub car park at 10 a.m. After much deliberation the sensible ones cast off for coffee and cakes at Bainton and five of us set off heads down, cagoules zipped well up.
There was no let-up in the weather - if anything it got worse - but we duly walked up hill and down dale for 2 hours. Everyone had gone a bit quiet by then so I suggested a short cut which was mutually agreed and off we went -1 had never actually done this short cut but had looked at the map and thought I knew where to go. However, as I am liable to do when dancing, I turned right instead of left. After about 20 minutes a feeling of unease came over me and simultaneously there was a voice from the back "I think we're on the wrong road!" We were. Everyone went even quieter - there was a quick about turn and a gallop for Huggate, this time in the right direction. Unbeknown to us there was a tableful of hungry people waiting for us to arrive before they could eat. I believe a text was sent out but my mobile phone had quietly drowned in a pool of water at the bottom of my rucksack.
I think that a cheer went up and there was much laughter as five drowned rats staggered into the pub, not least because everyone could now get on with the meal. The patient staff soon served us all with excellent food and we spent a very pleasant lunch time eating, drinking, chatting and drying out.
On the plus side nobody came to any harm, new friendships were made and I now have a new mobile phone.
Gill Hoyle, Hessle
OBITUARY: PEGGY BATCHELOR, 1925 - 2007
It was with great sadness and shock that we learned of Peggy's sudden death at the end of June. She hadn't been ill and we were looking forward to dancing with her at the Thursday Summer Dancing.
Peggy was always a very active person. She didn't retire from her physiotherapy until she was 75 and carried on taking 2 or 3 yoga classes every week. She was a counsellor for Cruse and was always a sympathetic listener. She was always doing something new. A few years ago she learned to swim to help disabled swimmers. Only last year she retook her Advanced Driver's Test to make sure she was still capable, and of course she passed.
Although a Liverpudlian , of Manx descent, I always thought of her as an adopted Scot. She met her Scottish husband in Liverpool at a Scottish Country Dancing class and they danced wherever they lived - in London, Glasgow and eventually Hull. When I first met Peggy she wasn't dancing because Val, her husband, was ill but after his death she took it up again. She was a good Branch member and served on the committee.
She enjoyed the dancing weekends and each year we went to Harrogate and Cober Hill. It was only in May that she danced every dance at the Cober Hill Weekend.
Peggy was very enthusiastic about everything Scottish. She liked to carry on the tradition of "first footing". A group of us used to go home with her after the New Year's Eve Dance at Dunnington to "first foot" her - with coal and salt, of course. It was she who was on the mailing list of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, making sure we followed them when they were South of the Border. We saw them in Harrogate in the Spring.
Peggy had a smile for everyone. She is greatly missed by her many friends but we are all enriched for having known her. We send our sincere condolences and sympathy to her son, Andrew, and his family.
Jean Mclnnes, Hessle
I didn't really know Peggy at all until she came to live in Beverley, just a minute or away from where I live. I got to know her much better in the last few years as we shared car journeys to dances, and was so glad that I had: she was a lovely person with a great warmth and true goodwill to others. Peggy, Ann, Jean and I had gone to a few folk concerts together, and the way I'll always remember her is how she enjoyed 422 at Swanland Village Hall. We had shared our Liverpool origins and our last New Year's firstfooting . Life is richer for having known people like Peggy.
OBITUARY: ROY COLDRING 1929 - 2007
As some of you will already know, Roy Goldring passed away on 4 September after suffering from a heart attack at the end of July. Although Roy was born in Devon, he worked in various parts of the country during his life, from the South East to Newcastle, before finishing up in Ilkley . Although we got to know Roy through Scottish dancing his tastes were much wider - musically he enjoyed classical music and jazz as much as SCD, and visits to art galleries were an important part of his life. In recent years he became addicted to golf, as if dancing was not enough.
Of course it is as a dance deviser that Roy was well known throughout the world - some of them published by the Society (Argyll Strathspey, Argyll Square, Cuillins of Skye, EH3 7AF, Inimitable Derek , John of Bon Accord, May Yarker's Strathspey, Music Makars, Reel of the Royal Scots, Saltire Society Reel, St. Andrews Fair, Summer Assembly, Tribute to the Borders, and the Scotia Suite, with The Piper & The Penguin). I have the instructions for over 200 of Roy's dances, which gives some idea of how prolific he was as a deviser. He was much appreciated by the many musicians with whom he worked to find suitable music for his dances, using both traditional and specially composed tunes. He produced several CDs to accompany his dances, many with Muriel Johnstone, which was a bonus for teachers wanting the right music.
He ran a class in Ilkley , and for many years held an annual charity dance in the Town Hall. Roy was chairman of Leeds branch when he died, and the instigator of the joint ball we shall be holding in November. At the ball we will be including one of his latest creations, a strathspey entitled Branches Together, which I think is one of his best.
Roy will be sorely missed, but because of his dances, never forgotten.
Malcolm Brown, York
OBITUARY; STAN HAMILTON
Stan and his band played music for dancing which inspired dancers and musicians alike to pursue Scottish Country Dancing, and his music was a major factor in the growth of SCO in North America in the late 1950s, 60s and 70s. Through his knowledge, research and arrangements he fostered the use of traditional Scottish music. He encouraged and influenced other musicians, several of whom went on to form their own bands including Bobbie Frew , Don Bartlett and Bobby Brown. Stan and his band, The Flying Scotsmen, were regular performers at most major events and travelled many miles across North America. Stan also played at countless workshops and dances as a solo pianist and was active until he suffered a stroke which affected his left hand.
Many of us knew Stan only through the records we danced to before CDs were invented; some of them have survived onto CD recordings, and are noted for the brilliance and verve in Stan's piano playing. His recording of Lady Susan Stewart's Reel is a particular favourite of mine. He received the RSCDS's scroll in 2005. Stan Hamilton died on September 4, 2007, in his 78th year.
Thanks to Elspeth Gray of the RSCDS for some of the information.
During one of my earlier visits to the RSCDS Summer School at St. Andrews, I was lucky enough to work for my prelim teaching certificate with Johan MacLean. Johan was an incredibly fit lady then, with warm-ups that were both lengthy and tough: we used to arrive at least fifteen minutes early in order to warm up enough to be fit to cope with Johan's warm-up. Unfortunately Johan decided that if we were keen enough to arrive early to warm up, then she'd arrive early too - and so we needed to arrive earlier still! One of Johan's big themes was centering the body and finding balance; her own poise, balance and control of her body were remarkable.
I was reminded of this last Monday at our class in Cottingham as I watched two of the ladies in the group dance -1 was sitting out trying not to overtax this Achilles injury I've had. It was really good to see them covering well and phrasing the dance accurately - but they still stood out even though other people were also phrasing well. Was it their feet? Well, not really (the turn out could have been better) - though they were up on the balls of their feet with no scuffing. So what made the difference? It was their carriage and poise, with their heads held high and their backs straight, with relaxed shoulders, that made them stand out. They'd got that balance and centering that Johan had tried to drill into us all those years ago.
I would point out that both ladies have been retired for a few years, and neither would ever blame age for any dancing failures! It gave me a way into thinking about what was important for older dancers, and how they could look good. Someone who has spent 30 or 40 years dancing with no turn out and passing feet is not going to get them now for all my exhortations - but they can at least point their toes! (To the floor and not the ceiling, of course; and a few degrees is better than no degrees.) Oh yes, and I mentioned that they were up on the balls of their feet - note Alick McTurk is still dancing up there at the age of 87! Looking at your partner/opposite/vis-a-vis/corner is as easy or as hard at 28, 48 and 78: you can all do it, and maybe even smile at the others in your set.
In my example, these dancers were listening to the music as they danced, and so their steps were in time to the music, and they got to the right place at the right time because they were aware of how many steps (or bars, depending on how you think) this would take. This is not rocket science (which I once heard was not such a hard thing anyway) and is something true for anyone of any age. The opposite means that you scuttle instead of dancing, or you start the next figure two bars too soon or too late. (Or even worse - a bar and a bit too late...) Another thing is actually trying to remember what happens next, and I'm not talking of age-related problems. Clare used to claim that teachers like me made it too easy and people ought to rely on their own memories much more; we all know people who seem to rely entirely on their partner every time, without thinking for themselves. This, she thought, was mental laziness, rather than the inability to grasp the dance. Whether she was right or not, there are things that older dancers can do to improve their dancing without precise footwork. And if you are younger - then work on the footwork as well!
THE 2007 RSCDS A.G.M. IN PERTH
Norma Wheeler, Allan and I headed north to Perth on a sunny Friday morning in November. The journey was made really pleasant by breaking for lunch at Jennifer Hignell's lovely home and garden in East Linton. The autumn colours this year were superb, and Perthshire looked stunning.
The ball on the Friday night was great. David Cunningham and the band were lively, and the programme devised by the Los Angeles Branch was good. Some of my favourite dances, such as Clutha, Maxwell's Rant and Macleod's Fancy, were on the programme. To see 600 dancers in their finest clothes dancing in a large hall is magical. Everyone mixed well and it was fun to meet old friends. On Saturday morning we attended the class held by Mervyn Short. His dancing is a pleasure to watch and he is so courteous and helpful, the class was a delight. Some people went on a privately organised tour to Scone Palace and said that was fascinating.
However it was on Saturday afternoon when things began to get heated. Just when we were sitting back comfortably hearing with interest who had got scrolls of honour and why, and that Helen Russell was advancing Education and Training, suddenly we were debating the future financial situation of the Society. The Society is living beyond its means and there was a long debate about raising subscriptions. The American and overseas members were particularly against the proposal. The vote was carried through by 175 votes to 62 with 2 abstentions to increase subscriptions to £15.
Lawrence Boyd the convenor of the General Purposes and Finance Committee announced his resignation and very calmly stated that he felt the governance of the Society was poor, and that there were inadequate safeguards and procedures within the Society. The audience were taken aback at such an unexpectedly forthright statement. However the Chairman Elect, Alex Gray, undertook to address some of these issues. The afternoon did make one think about what one wanted from the society, how much it relies on good-will and voluntary effort, and how such a large organisation does need safeguards. Personally I have always liked the idea of being part of a large world-wide organisation that encourages dancing, and am grateful for all the effort put in to ensure that the pleasure of Scottish dancing continues. Scottish dancing surely gives good value for money.
After the meeting we had a quick meal and then back for more dancing. This time the band was Marian Anderson - they always seem so happy and the music was really inspiring. The evening flew, and was really enjoyable as again over 650 people danced enthusiastically. The programme was devised by the Manchester Branch, and again included lots of old favourites such as Ian Powrie's Farewell to Auchterarder and Napier's Index. This evening there were even brief recaps which many appreciated.
On Sunday morning Malcolm stepped in at short notice with Pat Clark on piano. He conducted a workshop demonstrating some historical aspects of dancing and we tried some dances Playford style. Who can forget a dance with a title such as My Lord Byron's Maggot? We were tired and had considered leaving early but were really glad we went to Malcolm's class as it was fascinating - the music was great and everyone laughed a lot. The meeting was fascinating and it is a very sociable weekend. Leeds branch turn out in force for the weekend so maybe next year in Perth, some more of us in York and North Humberside might consider attending the A.G.M. Don't be put off by the title of A.G.M.
Margaret Highet, York
CHANGE OF EDITOR'S e-MAIL ADDRESS
Please note that as soon as a few technical problems are resolved my email address will change to email@example.com. This is because I've switched to Broadband which in my area has to be Karoo, or so I understand. I will keep checking the tinyworld address just in case.
Are you a "half empty cup" or a "half full cup" type of person? Alternatively, are you a "what do I get?" or a "how can I help?" type of person? Your answer to both these questions will perhaps flavour your response to a decision made at the RSCDS AGM.
The Management Board put forward a motion well presented by the outgoing Convenor of the General Purposes and Finance Committee, Laurence Boyd, to raise the annual subscription to the Society to £15, an increase of 50%. There was much discussion on this but the most persuasive argument was given by the Chairman Elect, Alex Gray, who gave a breakdown of how our current £10 is spent. This is set out below.
Staff (net of contribution) 4.70
Property, Equipment, Depreciation 2.56
Printing, Postage, Stationery 1.29
Governance (audits, meetings, etc) 2.08
Irrecoverable VAT (a UK tax) 0.73
Magazine (two issues) 3.67
Website and Database 0.73
Youth, E&T Initiatives 0.68
Royalties, Licences , Archives 0.49
As you can see, we come nowhere near covering our costs. About half of the £10 goes on staff salaries. A great deal of the work of the Society is done by volunteers but we do need paid staff to do the administrative side of the business. The website is a necessary tool in any organisation and it has to be modern and accessible as many people judge an organisation by its website. (How many times have you tried to order something on a website, found it difficult, given up in disgust and vowed never to use that company again?)
Communication is another necessary requirement in modern society and this is why the Management Board decided some years ago that the membership would benefit from a twice yearly magazine with a few dances included rather than a book of dances, not all of which are danced, and a bulletin giving bare facts and reports of the AGM. This is why the magazine is sent individually to every member so that we can all know what is happening round the world rather than a select few. (For those who do not want more than one magazine in a multimember household, we now have the facility to amend this.)
The RSCDS is a charity under educational auspices as are many of the UK branches. I am sure many of you donate to charities via Direct Debit and you don't really notice the £3 to £5 a month which quietly slips out of your bank account. The Branch does not have the facility to ask for monthly Direct Debits so it all comes at once in March. However, the £3 to £5 a month comes to £36 to £60 a year rather than the £18(£15to the Society and £3 to the Branch) we shall be asking for in the new financial year.
There are many reasons why we happily pay our membership. To some it is the infrastructure that gives the opportunity to become teachers so that they can pass on their passion to others. To others, it is the pleasure of being part of a worldwide organisation that enables us to dance with friends all over the world. What is your reason?
Helen Brown, Secretary, York
Do you want to be a member of a local branch of the RSCDS? Why? What do you want it to do? Fairly basic questions, but we are getting to the point where we desperately need some positive answers. When the branch was started in 1975 we deliberately inserted into the Constitution a three year rule - no-one can be on the committee for longer than 3 years at a time. It was the belief of the initial committee that this would attract new people onto the committee, with new ideas, as they would know from the start that they wouldn't be stuck with the job forever. In some ways this has worked very well. Many people over the years have served on the committee, and brought with them new ideas. However there have frequently been times when people have been reluctant to become committee members, (which contrasts with other branches without the rule, where getting onto the committee can be a case of trying to push out someone who has been on the committee for years).
What does our branch do? We organise monthly dances, mainly to CDs, but one with live music. The monthly dances take place in a variety of different hall throughout the area, so that it is not the same people having to travel each time. We organise a Day School (with a visiting teacher and pianist), and an evening dance to a band. We have our Weekend School in Harrogate, held at the Cairn Hotel, with a visiting teacher and live music for the dances on the Friday and Saturday nights. We have a quarterly newsletter, which you are now reading. We have a Step School every year, again with a visiting teacher & musician. We enter a team to take part in the White Rose Festival. All of these activities need a certain amount of organising , even if it only to appoint someone to take it all over, and that is where the committee comes in. As you will have read, we had a walk (for those who were sufficiently enthusiastic) followed by a lunch in the "summer" of 2007. (Incidentally, the idea of the lunch came initially from Mary Ashworth, when she was on the committee.) But the person who lead the walk was not on the committee - we just found a willing volunteer!
I like to think that the branch and its committee are prepared to try out new ideas. However some of us have been committee members many times over the years, and it is very hard for us to come up with new ideas, especially when you are fairly convinced that you will have to be the person who implements them! If you want to be a member of a local branch (as opposed to one some distance away, such as Leeds), then there needs to be a branch for you to join. If you want it to continue doing the same things, or even if you think it should be doing something else, then it needs a committee to organise it.
This year we have been running with a committee of eight, four of whom will be retiring at the end of the year. The other four will come off the following year. There are spaces on the committee for up to a total of ten people. This year the February edition of Broun's Reel contained a nomination form on the back, which turned out to be a complete waste of paper. You don't have to be an expert dancer, teacher or anything to be a committee member - even if you are relatively inexperienced, this is an excellent way to find out more about how things operate. If you think the branch is something worthwhile, then I'm afraid we are back to the JFK mis -quote: "Ask not what your branch can do for you, but ask what you can do for your branch"!
Malcolm Brown, York
THE BRANCH WEBSITE - www.rscdsyork.com
Recently I have found out that not everyone is aware of how they can use our website. All forthcoming events and dance programmes are there, with cribs and links to maps of the venues. Application forms for the Day School, Weekend School and Membership are also available to print off. I do try to check browser compatibility before I upload files, but I really rely on other people telling me if something doesn't work for them. I can't promise to solve all problems, but I can try. The pages are there to inform you and hopefully dancers from across the world who might be visiting us. If you have a computer with internet access and haven't yet looked at the site why not try it out. If there is anything that we have not thought of that you would like to see, please tell me. Photos of Branch events, digital or other, are welcome. My thanks go to Allan Highet for supplying so many this year. See them in the 'Picture Gallery'. If for any reason you don't want your photo displayed worldwide let me know (in writing or e-mail) and it will be removed. In the meantime, you could click on 'Classes' to find a contact number or e-mail address for your local teacher. 'Other SDC links' will take you to other local club and branch websites and to RSCDS headquarters. If you lose your copy of Broun's Reel you can find the editorial and other articles, and there are back issues going back to May 2005.
In the old days of the RSCDS, like about 5 years ago, HQ had very few records of Annual members. They had records of Life and Long Term members but the few records of Annual members usually meant the person had attended Summer School. They had no way of knowing if that member renewed their subscription or not. All Annual members' records were kept by branches and their subscriptions were paid to HQ en bloc.
Fast forward to today! There is a new membership database held by HQ which the individual branches can update. Branch officials have the facility to directly amend the records for their own branch, which should ensure that addresses, etc. are up to date. There is also the facility for us to say whether you want the magazine (you are entitled to it) or just one per household - more about that in the next Broun's Reel.
Helen Brown, Secretary
THE EARL OF MANSFIELD
At the recent RSCDS AGM in Perth, the Earl of Mansfield retired as our President. He has held this position for 30 years and the Society is very grateful for the help and expertise he has given during that time. His Grace has been presented with a tree in appreciation of his service to the Society. He has chosen a Cedar of Lebanon which will be planted in the grounds of Scone Palace with a plaque giving the relevant details.
His successor is Dr Alastair MacFadyen a Past Chairman of the RSCDS and the first Archivist of the Society.
Helen Brown, York
Left behind at the Day School/Dance were a navy RSCDS tie and a dark grey fleece. Have you mislaid either of these items? Are you now feeling the cold? To reclaim either of these items, please contact Helen Brown on 01904 488084. If either is not claimed by our dance on 12 January, they will be sent to a Charity Shop.
OBITUARY - STEVE HIGNELL
Unfortunately I did not hear about Steve's death for some time, but I would like to mark his life now. Steve was better known to the York dancers, but whenever I met him he was always extremely courteous: as Helen Brown describes him, a true gentleman.
Steve died early this year after a long illness. He had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for many years, and this had forced him to give up dancing, which he'd enjoyed as a member both of York SCD Club and of the RSCDS York and North Humberside branch. He had worked for Rowntree's prior to his retirement. During the time they lived in York, Jenny and Steve had often put up bands who had come down from Scotland, and were always very hospitable.
Steve and Jenny moved up to East Lothian about two years ago to be nearer their daughter, Sarah, and her family. Jenny is continuing to dance in Edinburgh, and this summer went to Summer School with her two grand-daughters. Our condolences to them all, and once again, my apologies that this has come so late.
Many thanks to Lesley Digby for her help with this article. Lesley and John visit Jenny two or three times a year and can give you more information.
OBITUARY - TONY HIBBERT
Tony was born in London in 1934, and early on in his life the family moved to Ickenham, which is now in Greater London. He attended the local secondary school and left at the age of 15 to start his apprenticeship in Chemistry. At the age of 19 we met at the Ickenham Gramophone Club; we were to marry some few years later. Tony had hoped to continue his studies until he got his degree, but National Service caught up with him, and he entered the RMAC, where he trained as a typist, and was posted to Hindhead where the Army nurses are trained. He ended his national service in 1961.
It was in 1961 that we were married, and Tony then joined Glaxo . He continued his studies and eventually got his degree in 1962. In 1963 he joined Reckitt and Colman, and ended up in their Eport Division, trouble-shooting. In 1974 Reckitt's moved up to Hull, and he stayed there until he was made redundant in the early 1990s, when he set up his own business until he retired in 1999. He joined me at Mike George's Monday Scottish Dance class in Cottingham, and also attended Helen Russell's beginners' class.
In 2004 he was diagnosed with Polymialgia Rheumatica . He was never able to cut out the medicines for this complaint, and at the end of July 2007 he ended up in hospital; when they gave him a brain scan, it showed a tumour which was inoperable. During his last months he was nursed at home where he was cared for by me, with the help of carers , nurses, MacMillan nurses and Marie Curie nurses. This care was marvellous .
Tony was also a keen birdwatcher and bridge player. The last holiday he had was a cruise around North and South Uist , where our patience was rewarded by seeing golden eagles and the huge sea-eagles for the second time - while not annoying the locals by having anyone working on a Sunday!
Sheila Hibbert , Cottingham
Tony was a kind and dear man with a hidden sense of humour - he once did a wickedly clever mime to inform the class when Helen's Wednesday class was to be cancelled. Our deep sympathies to Sheila and the family.
OBITUARY - MARY ASHWORTH Happy Memories of Happy Feet
When Joyce asked me to write a bit about Mary and SCD I demurred, not fearful of the memories it would bring back but because I simply don't trust my memory. However, here goes. Apologies if I've got it wrong in places.
Guessing, it must be between 30 and 40 years since we started dancing. We were looking in the prospectus of the local evening institute for something we could do together, and found that an SCD course was just about to start in the school round the corner in Kirk Ella. Our first teacher was a giant, kilted, Scotsman - George Thomson. We made some wonderful, enduring, friendships in that first group - Jim & Sheila Riley, Harry and Ella Carson, George and Avril Crosbie among others. George T. taught us the basics, but then taught them again and again, so we got a bit fed up eventually. My abiding memory of George has nothing directly to do with SCD - he called at the house one morning on business: Mary opened the door and after a brief pause said 'Oh, it's you, George -1 didn't recognise you with your trousers on!'
Later George Crosbie took charge of the Kirk Ella class, and he taught us some new dances, including at least one of his own composition. He also taught us how to dance them (get the steps right). About this time, having attended the evening classes for over a year, we wondered if we were proficient enough, and would be allowed, to go to a 'proper' dance on a Saturday. We eventually plucked up courage and did this, only to find that there were lots of others no more proficient than us, and we also found a host of new friends. I think our first Saturday dance would be in the Civic Hall in Cottingham. Other memorable dances were in the majestic Assembly Rooms in York, and at the Tech College in Scarborough (renowned for good food).
Then someone told us about the Branch, and Broun's Reel, and we were truly hooked. We attended a few Day Schools, and discovered there is a lot more to SCD than just being in the right place at the right time. From there it was a simple upgrade to Weekend School, and we went to the first at Cober Hill (but not the year before in Hebden ) and remember well Len Bird and his wife. We both love Scarborough, and would set off early on the Friday and spend the whole day walking on the South cliff, culminating in tea and meringues at Bonnett's cafe. They have the best meringues in Yorkshire.
We have been members at various times of all the local SCD clubs, being taught by George Main, Mike George, Alex Hodgson, George Edwards and your Editor (nearly forgot her!). When the Branch organised a Weekend School in Harrogate we were first there and found them socially most enjoyable, as well as instructive. Our eldest son lives in Knaresborough , so we always arranged to lunch with him and the family at a little cafe in the Westminster Arcade. We told others of this good ' noshery ' - sometimes I wish we hadn't since in later years we had to queue. (A variation of the old adage, never reveal a short-cut to anyone.)
Sadly, Mary didn't feel able to dance much this year - she just managed the odd Strathspey, but still came to the Cottingham club to listen to the music and chat. It has been heartbreaking seeing her go downhill. Her illness was very reminiscent in the final months of that truly wonderful Scottish Country Dancer Clare Bunton . One could see Mary on the same slippery slope. Perhaps they are now dancing together once more -I wonder who is wearing the coloured band?
Philip Ashworth, Kirk Ella
Mary was a very kind and intelligent lady with a great sense of humour ; you may remember the dreadful puns in the ceilidh sketches she did, or the deadpan Cinderella "pantomime". She was a good dancer with great enthusiasm and real style, and will be missed by all her friends. Our sincere condolences to Philip and the family.
In the editorial to the last Broun's Reel, I began to look at a few technical points which might improve the dancing particularly of older members. I did say that I wasn't going to concern myself with footwork, but you may think that this time I'm contradicting myself. If you remember, I mentioned two dancers in our class whose carriage was particularly good, and I also commended one or two other things they did well.
Both ladies always phrased their dancing correctly - they were in the right place at the right time, and they took the right number of bars to do it. They achieved this partly because they listened to the teacher's instructions (and remembered them!) but mainly because they listened to the music. So they danced to the music, knew how many bars something would take, and danced for the appropriate number of bars. It wasn't just that each step started at the beginning of the bar, it was that each part of the step was in time with the music. I'm repeating myself here, but there are a lot of people out there who don't actually listen to the music! That rhythm in your ears should translate into the movements of your feet: that's fundamental.
To complete the moves in the dance, my two exemplary dancers introduced light and shade into their dancing - another topic beloved of St Andrews teachers in front of exam classes. All your steps are not the same length: some variation between longer and shorter steps is not just desirable but necessary, and actually adds to the overall impression. Again, to do that, understanding of the patterns, the figures, is essential - and so is listening to the music. Awareness of the other dancers involved in the figure also affects the length of your step. Someone once put down my ability to complete a figure in the requisite number of bars to my long legs (yes, mine!), but it was rather the length of my step.
Then, it's necessary to be on the balls of your feet, or on your toes. If your feet are flat on the floor, you've got more of them to move through a bigger angle of movement, and it requires more effort and time than merely swivelling on the balls of your feet. Your feet are actually moving further if they're flat on the floor, and you haven't the balance to change direction at a split-second's notice. So I would urge you to get up on your feet if you possibly can - it really will make dancing easier. When you dance a turn, particularly a tight turn as in corner-partner-corner-partner, make sure your feet are as close together as possible. You've less distance to travel that way (plus I think it looks better!) For me, when turning, your feet and your partner's feet should be close together, and your shoulders further away. Using elbow grip and leaning in towards each other means that your feet are further apart and you're making more work for each other, not less.
So there you are - technique you can all work on, and I haven't said a word about turn out! One day I'll quote Peter Clark on turn-out. Till then, try out what I've said - and if you do nothing else, listen carefully and, in the words of Sly Stone, "dance to the music".
THE COMMITTEE AND ME
In the December edition of Broun's Reel, Malcolm wrote an article about our branch of the RSCDS. He listed the activities which have to be organised , hence "the Committee", who plan the programme for the coming year and decide who will do what and arrange when and where the dances take place.
Two years ago I was asked if I would like to be on the committee. I was reluctant. I had always considered Scottish Dancing a relaxation, away from teaching and all that it involved. When I really thought about it, I realised that people just as busy, and in many instances busier, had given time to serve on the committee. They have provided me with the means to enjoy Scottish Dancing for more years than I care to remember. I was still rather reluctant and unsure what my contribution could be, but agreed to stand.
Being on the committee has certainly opened my eyes to the amount of work needed for the branch to operate successfully. The knowledge and experience of the other members certainly helped me during the last two years. Taking part in discussions and decision making for forthcoming events is an interesting experience.
I was very nervous about devising a dance programme, but was assured that guidelines were available to produce a balanced programme of reels, jigs, strathspeys and formations. Jean and I worked together a couple of times (on the premise that two heads are better than one!) spending an evening sorting and sifting, hoping that we would produce a satisfactory list of dances. Fortunately for you all, other kind members of the committee arranged the music for us.
This brings me to MC- ing and to say that it is not a compulsory part of being on the committee. I won't comment on my own "performances" except to say that hopefully I will have mastered the technique of starting and stopping the music, unaided, by the end of my three years.
In April five people will be retiring from the committee, leaving two very experienced members and one relative newcomer. If you haven't been on the committee before, please think about joining us. We need "new blood". If you have served before, perhaps several times, we would welcome you back.
Your branch needs you ...at least five, six or seven of you.
Chris Hare, Hessle
AFTER 25 YEARS...
March this year will be the 25 th anniversary of my first venture on to the Branch committee. I wasn't nominated. I volunteered at the A.G.M. because there was a vacancy. Of those elected at the meeting, Helen Brown was going to be the only woman. Yes, in 1983 there was a surplus of men, compared with this year, when Malcolm has been the sole male representative. Our constitution allows us to serve for three consecutive years before taking a compulsory year off. We are elected for just one year, and occasionally members have served for only one or two years. No problem with this, but it is relatively rare.
Many of us keep going back for more. After all, it's one way of knowing what's going on and even introducing new ideas. In 1983 I knew few people outside the York area, and even fewer knew me. I was a bit wary when I went to my first committee meeting one Sunday evening at the Bell Hotel in Driffield, but I was made very welcome, and by the end of the meeting I was the new treasurer, the chairman was from Scarborough and the secretary lived in Hull. There were others from York, Hull and Hornsea. I was getting to know people. That year I had an assistant in Arthur Keech, who volunteered to collect cash from our shop sales if I was busy doing other things. Very good he was too, writing down every item meticulously (and keeping carbon copies).
Twenty five years later I am again the treasurer, but no carbon copies -I rely on the computer to remember everything. Thanks to our constitution, I have only served sixteen of the twenty five years as treasurer, one year as secretary (hard work for me) and one as chairman (relatively easy). Although there is a core of us who keep returning, an analysis of committee members throughout the life of the Branch (32 years) shows that 57 different people have been involved on a committee which is comprised of up to 10 people, but which usually runs with less - sometimes with only 6. At the end of the current year, there will be only 3 of the current members eligible for re-election. People are quick in coming forward when help is needed before and during events, but we need more input into the organisation , not to mention at least one more body at meetings to make a quorum!
The extra sheet on the back of this edition of Broun's Reel is your application form to renew/start your subscription to the Branch for 2008/9 due on 1 st March.
It is a fairly self-explanatory form requiring your name, address, e-mail (if you have one - it sometimes saves on postage). It shows the current annual subscription (£15 to the RSCDS and £3 to the Branch making a total of £18). The administrative subscription is for those who are members of another branch e.g. London or Glasgow but who would like to be a member of the Y & NH branch as well, their main RSCDS subscription being paid through their home branch. The majority of our members are Annual members but we like to check that our records are correct when we ask if you are a current Long Term member (we only have 1!) or a Life member (we have 7).
We find it saves unnecessary waste paper if we ask if you want to receive a copy of either the Day School form and/or the Weekend School form.
This year we have added the choice for multimember households to say whether they would like to receive only 1 copy at a time of The Scottish Country Dancer magazine. This has been a wish for many of you over the last few years and, using the new database at HQ (see the last Broun's Reel), we can grant you that wish - but only if you tell us!
It would be much appreciated if you could forward your subscriptions to me or your committee member as soon as possible.
Helen Brown, Branch Secretary
At the New Year's Eve dance, you will have noticed the presence there of Alasdair's two little girls, Abigail and Ilona . At the end of the evening, they assured Daddy that they'd put their dancing shoes in his shoebag . Of course, when they got back to Glasgow, there were no little dancing pumps in Alasdair's bag - so it looks like they were put in someone else's bag. If you've not been in your shoebag since New Year, can you please check that you've not got them? If you brought friends or family to the dance, could you ask them to check too? The shoes are in a pink plastic bag. Please let Malcolm or Helen know if you come across them.
The day after Boxing Day I got up very early, left Helen, and caught the early plane to Amsterdam. As Helen prepared for the arrival later in the day of Alasdair and family, I wondered around Schipol airport searching for a lady carrying a yellow magazine! Fortunately we found each other, and we were soon in her car travelling to Nunspeet for a week of English & Scottish dancing.
The main core of the course was English dances - from Playford to some recently devised dances - all instructed ("called") by a very experienced and knowledgeable lady from the Birmingham area. I was the Scottish teacher, so she kept losing part of her class as I taught the experienced and then less experienced Scottish dancers. We had classes in the mornings and afternoons, and then dancing in the evening. Obviously most of the evening dancing was English, and I had a great time trying to remember and dance all these new dances, especially as they were usually danced "for as many as will", i.e. one long set down the room - danced like that you never knew when the music was going to end, and as they all used just the one tune, it took some getting used to. We did do a few easy Scottish dances in the evening as a break from the English, and on the last night we had nearly an hour of it. When the dancing finished at about 10.30 there was short break for refreshments, and then the party started, with other forms of dance - Israeli one night, and Dutch the next.
After the classes in the afternoon there were other activities, and one afternoon we watched a DVD showing the English dances from films & videos of Pride & Prejudice, etc.
We had meals in the main dining room, sitting at tables of six, so I got to make quite a lot of new friends, and it was certainly a change from going to the post Christmas Sales.
I had a really wonderful few days, and we are currently investigating the possibility of organising a branch weekend to the complex. There is accommodation for about 60 or so people available (not as luxurious as the Cairn, but perfectly acceptable). The current idea is for classes in the morning, dancing in the evening, and at least a couple of all-day trips to places of interest, possibly getting together with other dancers from the area.
HALF-EMPTY OR HALF FULL?
In the last Broun's Reel, Malcolm asked "Are you a cup half empty or a cup half full person? Should have known better than to ask a linguist! I'd say I was a cup half-empty person, even though this is usually taken to mean that you don't look on the bright side. My reasoning is this: a half-full cup is no more than that, whereas a half-empty cup means it was once full and I've already enjoyed half of whatever was in it!
I am happy to report that our experimental joint venture with the City of York Pipe Band in running an evening of ceilidh dancing on January 12th worked out very well. I haven't heard the final figure but we sold over 175 tickets and the dancing, to use Lesley's words, was somewhat " cosy " but a thoroughly good time was had by all.
Ian Watson, York
BRANCH ANNUAL DANCE, STOCKTON ON THE FOREST 29th MARCH
Our March dance, at Stockton on the Forest on Saturday 29th March, is really a replacement for the Annual Ball, which of course this season took place as the Joint Ball with Leeds. The band is the West Telferton Band, with their amazing fiddler: I'd encourage you to get tickets pronto! Tickets cost £8 for members and £9 for non-members; I think that's incredible value. Refreshments take the form of a Faith Supper; as usual, you are advised to bring your contributions on disposable plates if possible. The programme has been chosen by Margaret Highet .
STEP-CLASS. DUNNINGTON. 12th APRIL
The Step class (open to ladies and men) will take place on April 12th, at its usual venue, the Reading Rooms in Dunnington. Kathy Lawmon, who taught us last year with such great enthusiasm, and who has taught Ladies' Step at St. Andrews for the last two years, will again be accompanied by Patricia Cass from Newcastle. The morning session begins at 10.30 and is for beginners and intermediates; the afternoon session, from 2.00, is for intermediates and advanced dancers. Each session will cost £5. Further details and application forms are now available; if you've not been before but are interested, please contact Joyce Cochrane (01482 871790).
BRANCH AGM & DANCE, DUNNINGTON. 12th APRIL
The Branch dance in April, with recorded music, will take place on Saturday 12th April at the Reading Rooms in Dunnington, beginning at 7.30 p.m. Prices are £3 for members and £4 for non-members; please bring the usual contributions to a Faith Supper. The AGM will be held at the interval and is usually a fairly short affair - and you won't be pressured into doing anything there and then, so no worries! The programme has been chosen by Helen Brown.
NB: the Voortrekker Monument devised by Duncan Brown has recently been published in the Pretoria Branch Book.
BRANCH DANCE. PICKERING. 10th MAY
For our dance in May we are returning to Pickering Memorial Hall on Saturday 10th May. For those who don't know it, it's a super hall with quite a modern design, a decent floor, a super view over Pickering Beck, and there's parking not far away. I was really impressed last time. Usual arrangements apply. The programme, danced to recorded music, has been chosen by Doreen Wu and the Pickering group.
BRANCH WALK AND LUNCH. 5th JUNE (tb.c )
Last year we trialled a branch walk and lunch together, led by Gill Hoyle, and deemed a great success even by those who were half-drowned in the rain! We have therefore decided to go with the same again; Alan Swearman has agreed to lead it, and the suggested date is Thursday 5th June. Alan and Jean will work out a route and a pub for lunch. Watch this space for more details!
MORLAND SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCE WEEK
The 22nd Morland Scottish Country Dance week, held from May 26th to May 31st, takes place near Penrith and the Lake District area. Classes are held in the morning, and dancing in the evening -I believe that you have to find your own accommodation. Classes are taught by Malcolm Brown and Avis Harrison, with dancing in the evening to the Chris Dewhurst band.
Due to lack of support this event has now been cancelled.
Ian Watson sent me the following article on recognising strokes, which given the average age of Branch members may prove useful. Knowing also that some of my own class are long-term volunteers at the Hull Stroke club, I thought others might be interested in this article too.
Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It will only take a minute to read this...
A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke ... totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.
RECOGNIZING A STROKE
Remember the three steps:-
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:
S = SMILE ask the individual to SMILE.
T = TALK ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE coherently, (for example "// is sunny out today").
R = Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 999 immediately!! and describe the symptoms to the operator.
NOTE Another 'sign' of a stroke is
1. Ask the person to 'stick' out their tongue.
2. If the tongue is 'crooked', ie if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.
A prominent cardiologist says that if everyone who reads this tells 10 people, you can bet that at least one life will be saved
.... AND JT COULD RE YOUR OWN...
Loyal readers will have known for some time that I'm an ardent fan of the Scottish rock band Runrig, and may know that last summer (summer?) I stood in heavy rain for twelve hours at Drumnadrochit to see them perform at their open-air "Beat the Drum" festival. This year their only British summer tour date is in July at Edinburgh castle - and I'm not going. The price, at £35, with a £4.50 handling charge and a £4 secure postage cost, is just too steep - and I'm told that that's not particularly expensive as rock groups go!
There were those who thought that our dance tickets in March at £8 for members and £9 for non-members were rather expensive when you had to take a Faith Supper. £8? That's only 24 minutes of Runrig! Michael, in his article which I read after beginning the editorial, agrees that Scottish Country Dancing is very reasonably priced. I'm told that a round of drinks costs more than that. An evening's dancing at your local class or a recorded Saturday branch dance must be one of the cheapest nights out anywhere: certainly cheaper than a visit to the pictures!
When I'd read about the RSCDS's financial problems in the last edition of The Dancer and the fierce debate there had been over subscription charges, I wondered what other subscriptions cost me annually. My RSPB membership costs me £34 pounds a year - but they do suggest you can give up to £80 if you wish. ALL, the Association for Language Learning charges me £50 per year for two magazines twice a year and a minor discount off a VERY expensive annual conference. My Runrig Fan Club subscription comes a lot cheaper, at £12.50 with three magazines a year and advance news of tour dates - and the occasional rare chance to meet the band. Individual membership of the National Trust for Scotland costs me £44 per year - 3 magazines again, but very useful free admission to properties in the wet summer of 2006 (it was wet where I was, in any case).
So the RSCDS, at £15 for HQ membership and £3 for local membership, seems a pretty good deal. Only the Runrig fan Club works out at better value - and look at the ticket costs there! In fact, compared with my other subsciptions, I begin to wonder whether the RSCDS charges enough. Ah, but it's a charity, you say, and non-profit-making - but so is the Association for Language Learning. The only reason that the RSCDS's costs aren't higher, it seems to me, is that so much of its activities are subsidised. To those nodding sagely in the knowledge that Summer School receives a kind of subsidy in the form of lower rents from the University of St. Andrews , that's not what I mean at all; I'm thinking of the legions of people who give up their valuable time and expertise to work for Scottish Country Dancing for free. The RSCDS could never afford to pay for that.
There are two lines of thought to consider next. One is that you get what you pay for. If you don't pay enough, the quality of what you get will diminish. The second is that matter of free gifts of time and expertise. Do you value you what you are given free enough? Is what has no cost to you worthless, or, as I believe, priceless?
The Editorial in recent issues of "Broun's. Reel" addressed some of the problems of ageing dancers, arguing that dancing is not just about footwork. It is as much about timing: being in the right place at the right time, being aware of one's partner, moving to the rhythm of the music and....but I suggest that you re-read them yourself, it is worth the effort. Perhaps less stress was laid on the fact that one can get much enjoyment, and exercise of a sort, even if one is no longer capable of the antics of one's earlier appearances on the dance floor. Two good friends of Susan and myself, who dance not a hundred miles away, have just entered their tenth decade AND STILL THEY ARE JOINING IN THE DANCING. There is hope for us all. It supports contentions that Scottish Country Dancing is good for one's health as it helps to keeps one fit. Though a health warning might be in order when I consider the many hip replacements, knee or ankle operations that I can count amongst fellow dancers. Incidentally, I have been intrigued to learn that a Committee empowered to make financial grants to organisations encouraging sports and other healthy activities was supporting darts and snooker, but not dance. Snooker? Darts?? Exacting demands made on the proponents, maybe, but hardly aerobic activities.
As in the past, in the Notes column:
numbers in brackets indicate the position of the dance in last year's list,
R means that the dance is reappearing after an absence,
FA marks the first appearance of that dance in these lists.
S indicates that the dance is from an RSCDS publication.
There you have it for another year. I really must get that anorak cleaned.
Michael East, Dunnington
Branch Liaison with the Management Board
As you may be aware, each RSCDS Branch is assigned member of the Management Board to act as liaison between the Branch and the central organisation. As the members of the Management Board change, so does the Branch liaison responsibility. In the most recent round of re-assignment, York and North Humberside Branch has been "given", if that is the right word, me. This means that Branch members can contact me to raise issues or concerns, make suggestions and ask questions. If you have any great ideas for publicity, marketing, running events, promoting dancing, or if you need information that is proving elusive, I should be able to direct your ideas and queries to the right place.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. My phone number is 01482 633267. I am happy to hear from you.
Helen Russell, North Ferriby
Yes- champagne and Scottish dancing do mix. Allan and I spent a really enjoyable Easter weekend in Reims, dancing with the Paris group. We had enjoyed the Paris branch's weekend in Pau four years ago, and were keen to join them again. The teacher was Mary Murray from Canada , Angela Young was the pianist for the classes, and the band was Marian Anderson- what a dream team!
I had a brilliant time, met some wonderful people, and look forward to hopefully attending the next Spring Fling! Thank you to York and North Humberside RSCDS branch for paying my tuition fees for the weekend and York SCD Club for paying my train fare. It was well worth it!
Laura Smith, York
The Branch would like to inform all our readers that it is happy to provide financial assistance to young dancers to aid them in attending any of the Society schools, such as the Spring Fling attended by Laura. If you know of any one who might be in this category, or if you are under thirty five and looking for assistance, please contact the Secretary.
Some of you are having problems when printing the cribs from our website. These cribs are formatted in a table using Microsoft Word. Options for printing are:.
1 If you use Internet Explorer as your browser you should be able to print directly from the web page, setting your own options for text size (click on Page/Text Size in the drop down menu) and margins (use File/Page Setup).
2 If you prefer, and have Internet Explorer and Word, you can use Edit/Select All/Copy, then paste into Word and adjust text size and margins there.
3 If you are using a different browser. eg. Firefox, it can't deal with these tables and the cribs show up with different line spacing so you can not print directly from the web page. (If you do, you will end up with 9 pages well spaced instead of 3.) However, if you have Word and you copy all and paste from Firefox into Word, then the formatting will revert to its original setting.
4 If you are using a browser other than Internet Explorer, and you do not have Word I think that the best solution would be to go to http://www.microsoft.com/windows/downloads/ie/getitnow.mspx select the version suitable for your operating system and download it for FREE.
Hope this helps. Let me know if it doesn't.
Rita Eastwood (email@example.com )
BRANCH WALK & LUNCH, BISHOP WILTON , 5th JUNE
This will take place on Thursday June 5 th . It will be a morning walk of about 5 miles, starting and finishing at "The Fleece Inn" at Bishop Wilton.
Jean Swearman, Beverley
WHITE ROSE FESTIVAL, HAREWOOD, 12th JULY
This year the White Rose Festival continues at what has now become its usual venue, Gateways School , Harewood, near to Harewood House. The Branch is entering one team again, and we hope to hold practices in Beverley on Sunday evenings again; sessions run from 7.30 to 9.30 at St. Nicholas Church Community Centre in Holme Church Lane . Again, Ian Russell will teach the team. Practice sessions will take place on the four Sunday evenings preceeding the festival. As usual, we're looking for members who would like to take part - please contact Ian ( 01482 633267) , your class teacher or any committee member.
It was a great shock to all of us to learn of Mike's death of a heart attack on February 18th at the age of 77. There are few people who packed as much into their lives; he was enabled in this by Brenda's support. He touched a great many lives in several different spheres. Everyone's got their own story about Mike. This is probably mostly my story about him rather than an account of his life - if you were at his funeral, you too will know how many things he was involved in and how many people appreciated him so much. I make no apologies for writing at some length.
I actually missed out on meeting Mike the first time he came to our Cottingham class. That year I was working hard doing a diploma in French, and missed several Monday nights; I was cycling in those days and the weather often seemed bad. Imagine my surprise when I turned up one night and for the first time there was a proper teacher there! That, of course, was Mike, and I recognised him as the man who changed Mollie's tyre after she'd had a puncture taking us home from a dance at which we'd met him. You tend to remember people who rescue damsels in distress while wearing a kilt. That kind of chivalry was typical, and was also the reason that ever after he got changed into mufti to travel home!
Mike recognised that my interest in Scottish Country Dancing was genuine and gave me a great deal of encouragement to improve and go on, for which I will always be grateful. After he and Brenda had been to Summer School one year - it was the year Book 33 came out, and boy, did he teach those dances well - he encouraged me to join the RSCDS and to go to Summer School myself. Not only had he learned a great deal himself there, and from Derek Haynes's Borrowdale weeks, but he was desperately keen to pass on both what he'd learned and the enthusiasm for dancing that he had. There was almost a three-line whip to get people to sign up for day schools - those were the days when we had waiting lists!
The RSCDS was terribly important to Mike, and he really believed in its principles and in getting as many people as possible to belong. He encouraged as many people as possible to go to dances, and so he made sure that we could all do the dances on the next programme so that we could go to any dance and not feel left out. He would arrange lifts for all and sundry so that getting to dances was always possible. He also encouraged members to become involved in the branch committee, always celebrating any role any of the group played in the branch. We've all seen the kind of "empire- building" where some one person has all the information and all the control over what goes on; for Mike, that was anathema, and everything was to be shared with everyone.
Naturally, it was Mike who encouraged me to take the Preliminary Teacher's certificate at St. Andrews . For some months before I went, he had me teach two dances each week, so that I'd taught every dance twice before I went - a procedure he repeated for two years before I took my full certificate! I was to find that this was most unusual when I got to St. Andrews ; hardly anyone had taught their class at all, and some had never even danced the set dances. Several of my class-mates felt that their teachers were rather jealous about their classes and most reluctant to share with someone who could threaten their position later (that empire-building I mentioned); Mike on the contrary was generous over sharing the class and encouraging me to join in the teaching. Clare, who had not long been a member of our Monday group, received the same encouragement.
When Mike first joined our class as its teacher, he was told (apparently in no uncertain terms!) that he "shouldn't do any of that footwork and technique and stuff". Gradually over the years we did start to get more of this; Mike was always delighted by good dancing (he loved watching Clare dance), and was thrilled when the second year of his beginners' class started to pay dividends. Good teaching from the start does make a difference, he knew, and I wished I'd had that input all those years before.
In the last few years Mike had been much bothered by arthritic knees, as well as calf and Achilles injuries. He found not being able to dance properly very frustrating - not being able to dance at all even more so. A pacemaker, stretching exercises and a variety of strappings and knee braces meant that he could continue to dance, and the love he had for the dance and the great pleasure it gave him were obvious. He was always keen to learn new dances; nevertheless, he didn't like dances which "broke the rules"; he loved symmetry and good writing, with "The Dream Catcher" being a recent favourite.
It does sound so far a bit like "St. Mike", but of course he was a real human and had his faults, the main one being that he didn't like being wrong - a fault many of us share, of course. It wouldn't have been so bad if whenever he went wrong Brenda, with her encyclopedic memory, hadn't known the right way to do something! He could be cantankerous at times, as the mug said. Apparently it was Brenda too who faced his bad moods when his bridge team or Hull FC lost (the latter more frequently than the former, by all accounts). Again, speakers at his funeral could pay far better tribute than I to his devotion to bridge and his lifelong passion for Hull FC.
Mike's work with the Scouts and the Cub Scouts is well known, as is the amount of work he did for the Scout Camp at Raywell. He went weekly as a volunteer helper to the Stroke Club, and after he retired from Reckitt's joined the Cottingham De Luda group. After going on a cruise with Brenda when they had both sung with the on-board choir, he joined a choir in which they could both sing, and got a great deal of pleasure out of this. A favourite piece they sang with the choir was "Finlandia".
I've said nothing about the family: again, if you were at the funeral, you will have heard how important his family were to him. He was particularly proud of his two grand-daughters, Susannah and Anneka, and was very close to his grandsons Alistair and Dan - perhaps you met them at their Golden Wedding dance. Brenda will miss him sorely; we offer her our condolences, and extend them to all the family - to Chris and Kate, David and Sally and Cathy and Paul.
Ten years ago in my last year at South Hunsley, I'd had a mixed group of pupils in years 7 and 8 dancing - and the boys were really keen. They didn't seem RSCDS naturals, far from your hand-picked well-behaved specimens, and even if I'd had to chuck one or two out because they'd got too giddy, they'd run up to me in the corridor next day and say how much they were looking forward to the next week. And yet in ten years of school dance groups, it was only the second time I'd had a sizeable proportion of boys.
If you saw the choreographed Highland dancing from the Edinburgh Tattoo on television a few weeks ago, you will have seen two groups involved, from Scotland and from Canada - and they were all girls, with some of them dancing as men. Nice to watch, but really sad to think that it helped promote the idea that dancing is for girls. In earlier years we've seen Highland dancers from one of the Scottish regiments; maybe we need more brawny soldiers to improve the image! I can imagine those soldiers dancing in a well choreographed country display with the girls in their short tartan skirts - now that could really relaunch Scottish Country dancing.
I really don't think that the problem lies in the dancing itself, just in the image we often present. Highland dancing for me is at its best when dancing by a good male dancer: I've seen women dance the Fling well, but a man dancing Barracks Johnnie well can project a really forceful masculinity. It doesn't just apply to Highland dancing, though it's easier to define there. Sometimes men's country dancing can lack force and strength, when men can really show their masculinity in the way they dance. One of the places we often don't see this is in strathspeys; a strathspey step should really be very strong, especially the travelling step, and yet too often a strathspey seems an opportunity for a bit of a rest! The other danger is that in dancing in a more masculine way, it's easy to exaggerate the steps. The real trick is to make your steps strong while keeping them small on a crowded dance floor - when you can do that you can call yourself a dancer!
All I've come up with to appeal to a younger cohort of possible dancers which includes boys is a rather flippant suggestion for future Tattoos. What ideas do you have? Are there any suggestions you could make, which we could pass on to HQ? The RSCDS needs ideas from its members: it's not just the job of the Secretary or a youth coordinator, all of us can work towards the future.
When Broun's Reel first started Helen was not only the editor, but she was also in charge of production - this meant that she typed it up on stencils, and then between us we turned the handle on our duplicator (sometimes she spent Friday afternoons turning the handle on her own) and eventually stapled the sheets together. As time went on we acquired an electric duplicator, which saved on elbow grease if not much else. After ten years I finally put my foot down with a heavy hand and insisted that she made a choice between editor and branch secretary, and so the job of editor was reluctantly relinquished.
Joyce then took over as editor, with production assistance from Clare & Rosemary, and as technology improved (i.e. Joyce bought a computer) this gradually evolved into Joyce putting things together as editor, and Rosemary (assisted by Barry) producing the copies.
Rather surprisingly Rosemary seems to have managed to find time for activities outside Scottish dancing, and recently she asked me whether I could take over production of the May issue because she wouldn't be around. And so I was forced to become aware of just how much work goes into producing the couple of hundred or so copies every issue.
Believe me, it no small undertaking that Rosemary has dealt with all these years. While you may have thought the cover on the May issue was an unusual colour, we were rather limited by the coloured paper I could find at short notice. Despite using a laser printer, it actually takes some time to print all the pages, which then need assembling into copies and finally stapling them all together (we actually went out and purchased a new stapler to cope with the work). All I can say is "Thank You, Rosemary - I now appreciate just how much work you have been doing all these years".
Malcolm Brown , Dunnington
THE BRANCH WALK , 5th JUNE (see some photos )
Remembering last year's heavy downpour I spent the evening before the walk packing all my wet weather gear into my haversack, and a complete change of clothing into another bag.
It was dull when we left, but by the time we arrived at Bishop Wilton the sun was out, so all the wet weather gear was left in the car. After choosing our lunch - difficult when you don't know how hungry you will be in 3 hours time - we set off.
The walk started at the pub, went along a lane and then beside a beck. It was really easy at first, and very pleasant until we came to the part of the path which had not been cut down. It had rained heavily the previous day, and the grass was long and wet. We soon had wet legs or wet trousers, but as it was really warm, it was not unpleasant. Jean McInnes's dog Sally did a great job keeping us all together - she ran miles travelling from front to back of the group.
We then came to a large field with a path through the middle. By the time we reached the gateway at the far side we had dried out and were glad of a stop for a breather.
We walked along a quiet lane, then an uphill bit in a field with views and wild flowers, then another lane, and then a narrow path at the side of a large field. Here we met the nettles. Some very tall ones. After a steep downhill bit we arrived back at the Fleece Inn where we all sat outside and had our lunch. The change of clothes came in handy as we were quite hot and sticky when we arrived back.
This was a very happy outing enjoyed by 19 walkers and two more for lunch. Our thanks to Jean and Allan Swearman for organising it.
Brenda George, Kirkella
Malcolm and Helen received the following from Anselm Lingard in the famous on-line "Strathspey" bulletin. It was part of a discussion relating to putting tricky dances onto a dance programme. Malcolm thought that it was quite amusing and that you might enjoy it!
MC: Nottingham Lace, a 96-bar dance in a square set. Rah, rah, rah (gives recap).
Dancers on the floor (looking up at the stage in a bewildered manner): Come again?
MC: ( Sighs.) Does anyone want to walk this through?
Dancers on the floor : Yes indeedy!
MC : Right. First eight bars, ... (proceeds to shepherd 10 sets of dancers through the dance) ...
Dancer in the 2nd set, 3rd row : Excuse us, we're in a mess. Can we start over from the beginning?
MC: ... (five minutes later) and that's it. (Sighs almost inaudibly.)
Dancers on the floor : Can we please have a recap?
MC : (Sighs some more.) Rah, rah, rah (gives recap).
Dancers on the floor (looking at each other in anxious anticipation, some slightly less bewildered than earlier on, some more so.)
Band : (plays a chord and 96 bars of jig time, taking approximately 110 seconds.)
Dancers on the floor : Can we please have an encore even though the last minute and a half was a display of utter chaos, but we think we have finally figured out approximately how the dance goes, and maybe it'll be all right if we get to do this again!
Malcolm L Brown, York
In the last edition of Broun's Reel , Philip Ashworth's telephone number was given incorrectly - my apologies to Philip and to anyone who has had difficulty contacting him. The correct telephone number is 01482 658247.
The dance in Dunnington organised so that our visitors from Japan could dance with us was a great success. You can see a few pictures of the event on the website. Both Kimiko and Junko were very happy that people made them so welcome (and Kimiko even rattled off the names of everyone she had danced with at breakfast the following morning). Thanks to everyone who came for helping to maintain our reputation for friendliness.
As in the last few years, we will be holding an afternoon school followed by a high tea and the evening dance. Members and previous attendees will have had an application form through the post; further application forms are available from Chris Hare (01482 645282).
The afternoon school will be taught by Craig Houston, with music from Pat Cass. The class will be held from 2.00 to 5.15, with a refreshment break, and will cost £7.00. High Tea is available at £4.00 (please book in advance). The evening dance, to Ian Thomson and his band, will run from 7.30 to 11.00; again light refreshments are provided. The full price is £8.00, but if you attend the class you get a discount of £1 on the evening dance!
The programme has been selected by Chris.
Catering for the Day School: If you can offer any help with catering for the High Tea, please contact Chris Hare, who would be delighted to hear from you.
OBITUARY - AUDREY APPLEBY
As some of you may know, Audrey passed on in Scarborough Hospital in February, after a short illness.
We came to Willerby in 1962 and, shortly after, were invited by a mend to George Thomson's Scottish Dancing class held in St. Cuthbert's Hall in Hull and then to his evening institute class in Kirk Ella School.
The bug (or Scottish mosquito, perhaps) had then truly bitten and we danced in Willerby, South Cave, Barton, Hull, Scarborough, Hornsea, Driffield, Kirkby Moorside, Oswaldkirk, and latterly with George Main in Beverley. Everywhere we met with such wonderful company and had so many happy times. I am sure that Audrey would want me to express her gratitude for all these "Happy Meetings" and for all the many lasting friendships that have been made.
We were sorry when we moved to Kirby Grindalythe in 1987 that there were no classes, the nearest being Kirkby Moorside, a 46 mile round trip, so Beverley became our class with known friends. However, I'm afraid the log on the fire on the winter nights won a lot of times over that 40 mile trip!
Latterly Audrey did enjoy inviting those who could come to our dance in the local Village Hall in September before the other classes started and was grateful to Gordon and Rosemary for providing the music.
We have really been blessed for more than forty years by our association with Scottish Country Dancers and the York & North Humberside branch of the R.S.C.D.S.
Reg Appleby, Kirby Grindalythe
Can I thank everyone for their kindness since Michael died. I received so many cards and letters from dancers and so many expressions of sympathy when I have been at dances. Thank you all, especially Joyce for her obituary in the last Broun's Reel . It has been a great comfort to me to know so many people also miss him.
Brenda George, Kirkella
Though Len Goodman is often perceived as the kindliest of the judges, he seems to most frequently criticise the posture of the dancers, and this is something that applies equally well to Scottish Country Dancing. Good posture means that you look right even when the feet aren't 100% accurate - and without it you may not impress even with perfect footwork. Drop your shoulders and tuck your bottom in is good advice both for Strictly contestants and for Scottish country dancers. Advice from Craig Revel Horwood on heel turns doesn't help us, but he has commented when dancers don't close when they should. (Could that be you? I reckon that 80% of our dancers don't close in 3rd in most steps). Another frequent comment is on the hold, and this can apply too - where are your arms in a circle? turning your partner two hands in four bars? two hands in two bars? in a poussette? in the knot? Similarly, they comment on rise and fall - so could we; light and shade is just another version of this; likewise the variation in the length of step.
There have been frequent references to the character of the dance, and this is again something that applies massively in Scottish Country Dancing, but is frequently lacking. I would list the most obvious of these simply as the "turn out", the angle of the hips and feet; rhythms, and in particularly the strathspey rhythm; hands up rather than down; and are you really dancing with your partner? Can you tell what is a jig, and what's a reel? Does this make any difference to the steps, and should it? [Yes is the answer, if you're not sure.]
To many people, all this will seem irrelevant or unimportant. I would venture to say that the lessons from Strictly Come Dancing should really be important. In the past, I've talked about the world-wide nature of Scottish Country Dancing and I've tried to place it in a historical context. We've discussed its health benefits and those derived from its function as social interaction. Above all, I've stressed that it's fun. Now for the first time I'm starting to stress Scottish Country Dancing as an art form. Seeing it as art is not elitist but aspirational. Just anything is not good enough! In the end, though, the final word must go to Bruce Forsyth - "Keeeeep dancing!"
I was very saddened some weeks ago when George Main rang to say that he had decided that the time had come to cease teaching SCD at Willerby. His Friday class has been something of an institution for me and others ever since he took it over from Mary Blackwell some 20 years ago. This class, which was held in the Dodsworth (Methodist) Hall in Willerby, was originally set up under the auspices of the Hull Scots Society of St. Andrew but more recently has been under the wing of the Branch.
My late wife, Mary, and I have spent many happy years dancing with this club, in fact it was the only one we attended for quite some time, and George was instrumental in encouraging us to be venturesome and join the Branch. I shall always remember George' expert teaching and humour, ably assisted on the refreshment front by Millie. And what devotion to the cause! Week in and week out they travelled all the way from Wetwang, and were always the first in the hall. (In the late 1980s when members from the Hull area made a weekly pilgrimage to Wetwang for teacher training, etc., George Crosbie devised the dance A Trip to Wetwang. Perhaps it is now appropriate to devise A Trip from Wetwang as a tribute to the other George.)
George Main continued the class at Willerby when the Dodsworth Hall was sold and we moved to the nearby St. Luke's (C of E) Hall - Scottish dancers are very ecumenical! However, dwindling numbers, combined with increased hall hire and transport costs, mean that this class is no longer viable. Thank you, George, for giving so much of your time and energy to the locals of Willerby. Best wishes in your 'retirement'.
I know that, for a few, the Friday classes were the sole outlet for their SCD enthusiasm, and I am sure that they would be very welcome at Joyce Cochrane's class in Cottingham on Mondays, and/or at Alec Hodgson's class in Willerby on Thursdays.
Philip Ashworth, Kirk Ella, Hull
As many of you know, we have been to the Summer School in St Andrews for quite a few years. We obviously met many dancers there and I used to say in fun that we went so that we could fill up our address book for when we wanted to travel to other countries. As I said, it was in fun though little did I realise how true it was going to be.
Malcolm has many times written about our travels in Broun's Reel so you will know we have visited quite a few countries. Our first really long trip was to South Africa, Australia and Japan. In South Africa, we didn't use our St Andrews address book but met up with a "virtual" friend whom Malcolm had met on the Strathspey Server (a forum for Scottish dancers on the net). This friend is now a "real" friend and he welcomed us into his home and his family looked after us for the week. He and another SA dancer (whom we had met on a dancing holiday in France) both took the week off work to show us around and take us dancing. We were almost overwhelmed by this generosity. We moved on to Australia where we stayed with more dancers in Perth and were taken to sights that the ordinary tourist probably would not see. Our main reason for going to Australia was to go to the Australian Winter School hosted by the Melbourne Branch. We had been invited to stay with a friend (met in class at St Andrews) who just happened to be the Director of the School! We were taken to see sights outside Melbourne, to classes in Melbourne (Malcolm taught one of them), to meals out and visits to dancers' homes so we knew quite a lot of people by the time we got to the School. There were no classes near by when we went to Sydney but we were invited out to dinner instead. As you can see the magic network of dancers was working. We moved on to Japan and again stayed with dancers - this is unusual in Japan as many of the houses are small. Another of our Japanese friends took us to many different places and had organised trips on the shinkanseng train. We returned home with a whole wealth of memories all due to dancing and new dancing friends.
Our next trip was to the East side of Canada to go to the TAC (Teachers Association of Canada) Summer School near Toronto. At the time, Malcolm was a member of the Management Board and was the contact for a number of Branches around the world including three in Canada - Nova Scotia, Burlington and Medicine Hat. We decided to visit the two in the East and spent an interesting few days with dancers in Halifax doing the tourist thing as well as dancing. We met up with dancers in Ottawa, attending a class and were invited out to dinner with the Chairman of the Branch. We moved on to Burlington (which is beyond Toronto) and were looked after very well there. These members were worried about us getting to the Summer School, so they arranged for their luggage to go with other dancers and gave us a lift. The same thing happened at the end of the week and we were taken by a different dancer to our hotel in Toronto. It could be overwhelming having all this kindness but it is all done in friendship due to dancing.
New Zealand was our next destination. We initially stayed in Auckland with a friend from St Andrews and caught up on the dancing gossip! For the next few weeks we were on our own working our way down to the South Island ready to go to Dunedin for the New Zealand Summer School. There we met up with dancers we knew from Australia, Canada, France and the UK as well as the home-grown ones. After the school, we went back to Christchurch to stay with someone we had met originally on a dancing holiday in Russia and on another holiday in France! On our return home, we certainly felt that the world was shrinking.
We returned to Canada, this time to the West Coast, again for the TAC Summer School. Yet again, we met up with friends from New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada (including the people from Medicine Hat) and, of course, the UK. It is quite something to be in a friendly class with dancers from all these countries all working to the same standards, not so much our personal levels, but the uniformity of the dancing as set out by the RSCDS. When you think about it, it is really quite amazing.
After the summer school, we went on a cruise but on our return we met up with another dancer who took us up Grouse Mountain in Vancouver and then out to dinner before Malcolm sang for our supper by teaching a class. This dancer was the first overseas dancer I selected for Malcolm's videos of the RSCDS dances.
As Malcolm has mentioned in his article, this year we went to Florida where we stayed for ten days with dancers whom we had never met before but who treated us right royally and became good friends. On the west coast of Florida, we stayed with two other couples who had never met us before but who opened their homes to us and entertained us. It is so interesting to hear other peoples' views on life in general as well as dancing. As far as dancing is concerned, I think we can all learn from each other and we should particularly listen to those from overseas who often have a very different viewpoint from us of how the Society runs.
Our most recent trip was to Canada again when we were invited to teach a weekend workshop. We spent a few days with the friend who two years ago had taken us to our hotel in Toronto from the TAC Summer School and who, incidentally, persuaded us to go to the second TAC Summer School! We only stayed a few days but we went to more classes than I have been to for ages and it was great fun and very interesting seeing different methods of teaching.
I have found it very rewarding to meet up with so many dancers in so many countries and it is fascinating how we keep meeting up with them time after time! Try going on a Scottish dancing holiday - you will really enjoy it and will meet so many interesting people.
Helen Brown, York
New Year's Eve at Dunnington
Time: 8.00 pm (31 December 2008) to midnight plus (1 January 2009).
Place: Dunnington Reading Rooms.
Catering: Faith Supper.
Admission: By ticket-crib only.
The ticket-crib contains information on all the dances in the programme.
The New Year will be welcomed in our customary manner. If, weather permitting, you wish to dance the year away, ticket-cribs, at £3.00 each, may be obtained from: Michael & Susan East, 11 Cedar Glade, Dunnington, York, YO19 5QZ (Tel: 01904 489 799)
Branch dance, NORTH FERRIBY , 24 th JANUARY 2009
Our first dance in January will take place at North Ferriby church hall (almost next to the church in North Ferriby: see Rita's link to the map on the website) on Saturday 24th January, beginning at 7.30 pm. Usual prices apply, and again as usual, you are asked to bring your contributions to a Faith Supper (paper plates preferred). The programme, to be danced to recorded music, has been drawn up by Nigel Bell.
Included in the programme is The Raywell Reel, written by Ken Cole in memory of Mike George.
1 - 8 1s & 2s, 3s & 4s dance set & link, then 1s & 2s, 3s & 4s right hands across.
9 - 16 All dance halfway round the set clockwise (4 bars), then dance round partner clockwise in a circular movement; all end on the opposite side, order 3 4 1 2.
17-24 1s & 4s in the middle of the set dance the knot [a kind of upside down knot - 4s & 1s (on opposite sides) turn to face up to begin the knot, dance to the left to the men's side and dance down]
25-32 3s, 1s, 4s & 2s dance halfway round set, anti-clockwise, then left hands across at the top and the bottom of the set. End 2 4 1 3.
The movement is supposed to represent Mike getting on his bike, cycling to Raywell Scout Centre, doing some scouting (a complicated knot) then returning.
[I have been using "Ilka Joy" by Scottish Measure for this, slowed down by 5% - Joyce]
Following the proposal put to last year's AGM, this dance is being held at the Dunnington Reading Rooms in the afternoon , beginning at 2.00 p.m. and ending at 4.30 p.m. Instead of a Faith Supper, there will be a 15 minute break for tea and biscuits, with a faith afternoon tea to follow at 4.30. The programme is not yet available but will be circulated shortly to class teachers or via e-mail.
BROUN'S REEL VIA E-MAIL?
One or two people have enquired about the possibilities of receiving Broun's Reel via e-mail instead of collecting a printed copy at a dance - either on environmental or economic grounds. Can you let the editor know please if you would be interested in getting your Broun's Reel this way? (Obviously we'd hope you wouldn't pick up a paper copy as well!)
YORKSHIRE DANCING MAP
Christine Parker-Jones from Leeds Branch has created a Google map for Scottish Country Dancing in Yorkshire. Rita has recently added our own events and a link above our usual left-hand menu will give you access to this map..