Volume 19 #5
The Scottish Country Dancer
March/April 2003

Articles in This Issue
    Once Upon a Winter Night Goin' to a Garden Party!
    Tips For Experienced Dancers Dancing With Beginners A Brief History of the Beginnings of the Vancouver USA and Kelso Scottish Country Dancers
    Whence the Rant Calendar of Events
Once Upon a Winter Night
by Tom Halpenny

Vancouver has not yet seen any snow this year, but there were plenty of flakes for a few hours at the 18th Annual Dinner Dance on February 15th. Several volunteers created dozens of paper snowflakes to adorn the hall for the theme "Once Upon a Winter Night". (Ask Linda Mae Dennis how important it is for snowflakes to have 6 points!) The grand event was held at the Columbia Presbyterian Church this year, while the usual Lupke Center is being renovated. Each table displayed a wintry centerpiece creation from Valerie Moore. Other decorations included Valentines Day balloons that had been won the previous evening by several dancers who had viewed the play "Love Letters" at the Slocum House.

Dressed in their finery, dancers savored a turkey and ham dinner, and delicious potluck dishes. Geri Stuart pleaded for everyone to make the same dishes next year, because "this year was the best dinner ever!" Jennifer Pratt-Walter entertained the diners with her melodious Celtic harp.

This event was a mini reunion for the members of last October's Japan Dance Team. Linda Danielson, the team's fiddler, was enthusiastic about playing for this dance. She rearranged her busy performance schedule to squeeze us in before departing for a 3-week visit to New Zealand. Melanie Plaut, Japan dancer from Portland, also joined the Vancouver dancers. Marge van Nus, the Dance team leader, displayed a 20-foot roll of beautiful Japan photos.

Linda joined pianist Lisa Scott to begin the dance with the "Grand March". Lisa has recently performed in Eugene, Beverly Hills, and Kentucky. The pair of musicians thrilled the dancers with their high-energy tunes throughout the evening.

The dance program, created by Geri Stuart and Marge van Nus, was briefed by Geri, Marge, Liza Halpenny, John Shaw, and Sally Bledsoe.

Many out-of-town friends graced the event with their company. Fort Worden organizer Peter Zarich from Seattle introduced the audience to the upcoming September event during the intermission. Several of our Portland dancer friends joined us, as well as our association members from Kelso/Longview. Sally Bledsoe delivered long-time member Doris Gressitt to the dance from Battle Ground. Stuart and Lyn van Nus arrived mid-dinner from Texas.

Thank you one and all for helping chairperson Raminta Soden prepare this wonderful event, and I look forward to seeing you again next year.

Tips For Experienced Dancers Dancing With Beginners
by Marge Van Nus

Adapted for Scottish Country Dancers, excerpted from Jonathan Sivier's (et al) list for Contra Dancers. With thanks (and apology) by Marge McLeod van Nus.

Because beginning dancers look to experienced dancers as knowing how, remember to:

1. give them confidence by showing you like dancing with them.

2. make eye contact - this is Social Dancing!

3. be careful not to push, pull, or shout.

4. "lead" a new dancer with eye contact, hand gestures (ie. tap your own correct shoulder to be passed in reels), and subtle motions (such as a nod of the head).

5. know for sure which hand to give or which way to move in a reel.

6. not get upset when mistakes are made, we all make mistakes at times.

7. refrain from forcing an issue, show politeness by example, let the teacher sort out mistakes.

8. dance smoothly and to the best of your ability, show them how it is done.

9. encourage and acknowledge their effort, accept and affirm their dancing.

10. stay with the instruction/walk through and do not go ahead because you know the dance, they do not and are just now learning; set a good example for new dancers to follow.

Whence the Rant
by Marge Van Nus

One can have a lot of fun looking up the word "rant" in the dictionary, though that may shed little light on why a dance might be called by that name. Given this state of confusion, I thought you might like to know how it is used in the SC Dance and Music worlds.

Starting with the Harvard Dictionary of Music: "Rant is the name for a 17th Century dance", e.g. the suites written by John Jenkins as well as works by Matthew Lock (1673). "Judging by the music, the term may well be an abbreviation of curranto (courante) which was a dance originationg in the 16th Century."

Now from my own notes for Scottish Dance music (from various music classes): Rant -- is 4/4 time, has either 3 identical notes and an upbeat at the beginning (The White Cockade), or 3 identical notes at the end of the phrase (Petronella). A 4 bar phrase repeated to give 8 bars is called a "Scottish Measure"; however, an 8 bar phrase repeated (to give 16 bars) may also be called a Rant.

Note: dances written for people in the 1700s were frequently titled "Rant", for example, The Montgomeries' Rant (originally written as a Strathspey), Maxwell's Rant, etc.

It all can be confusing but I hope this short overview helps a little.

Goin' to a Garden Party!
by Susan Shaw

A Garden Party is the theme this year when the Vancouver Scottish Country Dancers host their Spring dance party on Saturday, April 19. They have chosen to hold this dance in the Oak/Elm Rooms at the Marshall Community Center, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, in Vancouver.

The live music will be provided by Lisa Scott, and the dancing begins at 8pm. The cost for dancers is $6; public spectators are welcome (from whom a $1 donation is suggested).

For more information, call Geri at 360.834.3757, or Van at 360.699.2174.

The dance program:

    Joie de Vivre                      (J) Bk 39
    The Rhododendron Strathspey        (S) "Wash. State Centennial Bk"
    Kingussie Flower                   (R) Bk 21
    The Nurseryman                     (J) Bk 37
    Delvine Side                       (S) Bk 2
    Kiss Me Quick, My Mither's Coming  (R) Bk 12
    The Bramble Bush                   (J) Bk 25
    The Enchanted Garden               (S) "The world Around the Corner"
    Ways in New Hall                   (R) Bk 42
    The Pines of Pitlochery            (J) Archives
    Green Grow the Rashes              (S) Bk 12
    Corn Riggs                         (R) Bk 4

A Brief History of the Beginnings of the Vancouver USA and Kelso Scottish Country Dancers
by Marge van Nus

Editor's note: Over the next few issues, we will be publishing a number of articles about the history of the Scottish Dance group in Vancouver. We thought this would be especially interesting to the newer members (like me!). We begin the series by reprinting the first such historical article, from the September/October 1996 issue of the Scottish Country Dancer.

1978: Fred and Marge van Nus "moved house" from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, to Hillsboro, Oregon. Since they were Scottish country dancers, they went searching for others with a similar inclination; they found (1) Ian and Florrie Milligan, who sponsored monthly dances in Beaverton, and (2) a folk dance group that sponsored a SCD class once a month, taught by Noel Lilly of Seattle. About that same time, Sally McNair, another avid dancer, moved West and found them.

1980: In March, Fred and Marge moved to Vancouver, Washington, and Marge offered to teach SCD for Parks and Recreation.

1981: The first class began in January. Twenty-two pairs of "happy feet" bounced the floor in the Oak-Elm Room at the Marshall Center. The class was under the wing of the Seattle Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, and its news was published in the Puget Scot newsletter.

Before the new dancers even heard the word "strathspey," they were asked to dance at a festival on February 21 in the Rudy Luepke Center. They held their first social dance on May 2 in the Luepke Center. They also established a Scottish Country Dance Spark Plug Award and presented the first one to Ian and Florrie Milligan.

1982: The Vancouver class received its first invitation to dance at the Fort Vancouver Brigade Encampment. Fred and Marge were out of town, so their daughter, Linda, home for the summer, handled the organization and did substitute dancing while Charlie and Juanita Vernon led the dancers "center stage" out in the "wilderness" of the Fort.

1983: Portland-based dancers had swelled the group, so they made a great show of SCD at such events as the Burns Supper, United Nations Folk Fest, Skoal International Film Fest, and the Vancouver July 4th celebration. They were introduced to the Friendship Force, dancing for and with them.

Social dances continued at the Luepke Center and Kelso resident Sarah Deatherage attended. She frequently begged Marge to "please teach SCD in Kelso." The Kelso Highlander Festival Committee invited the group to dance at both the stadium during the day and the evening ceilidh at the Thunderbird (now Red Lion) Inn. They included audience participation that evening, where they met Hugh and Pat Ingram, who also begged Marge to teach in Kelso. At the same ceilidh, they met Malcolm (Calum) MacKinnon and a harper from Seattle who delighted the audience with Scottish music.

1984: SCD classes began in Kelso in January. Marge taught with Sally McNair as her adjunct. Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers was formed as an affiliate of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. They were no longer under the Seattle Branch. Portland-based dancers formed their own demo team. Gary Thoen of Kelso volunteered to edit, print, and distribute the Scottish Country Dancer; the first issue was published in June.

They added Queen Victoria's Birthday celebration at Fort Vancouver to their list of demos. Kelso dancers joined for Brigade Encampment. For the McLoughlin House Family Celebration in Oregon City, they produced their own "Dr. McLoughlin" -- alias Kevin Scott. After whirling through all dance levels in class, Lisa Fiske-Sharp took the final step to join the teacher candidate class in Seattle.

With regular classes on-going in Vancouver and Kelso, three certificated teachers, and a full schedule of social events and demonstrations, the Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers were solidly established.


Calendar of Events

Mar 8

Portland Dance Party, 7:30 pm, Tigard Grange 13770 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard.

Apr 5

Celebration of National Tartan Day: Join VancouverUSA SCD in celebrating National Tartan Day, with a visit to The Cheshire Cat British Tea Room, 2801 Vancouver Way. From 11am to 4pm, come sample items from a special menu for the day, and explore in a cozy atmosphere the world of Scottish tartans and clan history.

Apr 6

National Tartan Day: Recognizing the outstanding achievements and contributions made by Scottish Americans to the United States.

Apr 12

Portland Dance Party, 7:30 pm, Tigard Grange 13770 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard.

Apr 19

Vancouver USA Spring Dance Party, 8-11 pm, Marshall Community Center, Oak/Elm Rooms, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver, WA Live Music!. See article this issue.

May 5 - Aug 29

Spring/Summer term of Vancouver USA Dance class. Note the new dates!

May 10

Portland Dance Party, 7:30 pm, Tigard Grange 13770 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard.

May 17, 18

Herb Festival at Pomeroy Farm 20902 NE Lucia Falls Road Yacolt, WA 98675 Tel: (360) 686-3537 Come and watch demonstrations of Scottish Country Dancing, with some audience participation for the whole family, on May 17!

May 17

May Ball, Seattle. At Polish House, located atop Capitol Hill, 1714 18th Ave., Seattle Music by Muriel Johnstone and Calum MacKinnon. Dress: semi-formal. Dance including Dessert is $40. If you wish to join us for dinner before the dance, there is an additional charge of $25. Contact David Blakemore,

Jun 14, Noon

World Day of Dance. At noon, local time, people around the world will be celebrating their ethnic and traditional dancing. Cultural events and workshops are in the planning stages, so stay tuned!

Jun 14

Portland Dance Party, 7:30 pm, Tigard Grange 13770 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard.

Jul 19

Portland Highland Games -- A celebration of music, dancing, and colorful entertainment offered by talented entertainers, artists, and craftsmen. Mount Hood Community College, 26000 SE Stark ST, Gresham, OR.

Sept 12-14

Fort Worden Weekend Workshop -- The Seattle Branch has sent out the initial mailers for Fort Worden 2003. Watch for your Fort Worden application in April. If you are not on the mailing list, send an e-mail to the resistrar at to ask to be added. Or mail to: RSCDS Seattle Branch, P.O. Box 77431, Seattle, Washington 98117, U.S.A.

Sep 18 - Dec 19

Fall term of Vancouver USA Dance class


Old Tam, who had lost all his teeth, had a visit from the minister who noted that Tam had a bowl of almonds. "My brother gave me those, but I don't want them, you can have them," said Old Tam. The minister tucked into them, and then said, "That was a funny present to give a man with no teeth." To which Old Tam replied, "Not really, they did have chocolate on them..."

  Do you have an item of Celtic interest you would like to see in print?  
  You can contact me in any of the following ways:  
  By mail:  
  John Shaw
  PO Box 2438
  Battle Ground, WA 98604
  By email:  
  The Scottish Country Dancer is a bi-monthly publication of the Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers, a non-profit educational organization. For changes of address, please contact John Shaw, PO Box 2438 Battle Ground, WA 98604, . The editor reserves the right to alter or edit any material submitted for publication for reasons of taste, style, or clarity. All materials for publication should be sent by email to the editor at the address above, preferably in straight text. Deadline is one week before the end of the month prior to publication date. Editors of other newsletters may use or adapt any materials in the Scottish Country Dancer unless a specific copyright notice is included. Please credit author and original source.
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