Volume 19 #6
The Scottish Country Dancer
May/June 2003

Articles in This Issue
    A Garden Party VancouverUSA SCD Summer Class(es)
    Spring Fling at PDX Scottish Country Dancing, Hawaiian-Style
    A Turn on the Dance Floor Top Ten Things that Make a Good Dancer
    Do You Need Ghillies? To Help or Not to Help -- That is the Question
    Annual General Meeting Calendar of Events
A Garden Party
by Van Meter Hord

And, on April 19th, it surely was. With Susan Shaw coordinating the evening's dance as the chairperson, the spring dance for Vancouver USA SCD looked as if it were situated in a lovely garden terrace. With beautiful live potted flowers and a flower-filled trellis, the Oak-Elm rooms at Marshall Center were transformed.

From lovely garden ladies in flowing gowns to handsome gents in their kilts, it was a wonderful dance with Lisa Scott and Leslie Hirsch providing the music to enjoy and dance to. Marge van Nus was the emcee; the three teachers-in-training, Geri Stuart, Liza Halpenny and John Shaw, briefed and held walk-throughs of the dances, much appreciated by those attending. Also appreciated were the Pillings provided by Fred van Nus, the program board by Tom Halpenny, and name tags by Linda Mae Dennis.

Earlier that afternoon, a special dance practice session lead by the three teachers-in-training had been held with Lisa Scott providing the music. Everyone who had been able to come earlier enjoyed this extra treat.

A marvelous evening! And a big thanks to all who made it happen.

Spring Fling at PDX
by Tom Halpenny

A group of Scottish Country Dancers performed at the Portland International Airport on April 13 and April 20, as part of the "Spring Fling" series of European entertainment to celebrate the new Lufthansa German Airlines nonstop air service to Frankfurt.


The dancers, Marge and Fred van Nus, Geri and Robert and Duncan and Alasdair Stuart, Liza and Tom Halpenny, Van Meter Hord, Martin MacKenzie, and Raminta Soden, performed for two hours each day. Passing travelers stopped to watch a dance and then continued on their way, to be replaced with a new audience for the next dance.

In addition to audience participation by some of the travelers, the Scottish Country Dancers were joined by some members of a group of Norwegian Dancers who were performing at the same time. These dancers wore colorful costumes and were all very tall! Also performing was a rythmic Yiddish band. The Lithuanian Dancers had performed there a couple of weeks earlier.

Fran and Herb Petschek joined the group for some dances before catching a flight home to Ashland, after having attended the "Garden Party" Spring Dance the previous evening.

The dance team celebrated their camaraderie each day with a complimentary ice cream treat in the airport food court.

A Turn on the Dance Floor
by Valerie K. Moore

Eight hands round the plaidies go,
And back again on pointed toe.
Leading down and up again,
Skirted women and kilted men.
Cross at top to reels of three,
Back to own side, a whoop of glee.
Cast to bottom, right turn to end,
Our part is done, thank you, my friend.

Do You Need Ghillies?

Just a note: On May 10th, representatives of James Senior of Edinburgh will be present at the Portland monthly dance. (Many of us wear and enjoy ghillies made by this company.)

See the Calendar item for May 10th for more details.

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers Association will be held Wednesday May 21, 2003, 9:15pm, at the Marshall Center, Oak/Elm Room, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd. This time is directly following the regular SCD class.

Meeting Agenda

1) Elect the "Committee of Management members" for the next 1-year term. The "Manager" position is currently held by Tom Halpenny and the "Secretary-Treasurer" position is currently held by Van Meter Hord. Both Tom and Van are willing to serve for another year. However, if you have an interest in serving in either of these positions, then please feel free to talk with Tom or Van to learn more about the positions.

2) Collect membership dues for the upcoming year. You may join the RSCDS and the local association or you may choose to join only the local association. We will soon provide information about the prices.

3) Receive reports from committee chairs about activities during the past year.

4) Discuss new business.

VancouverUSA SCD Summer Class(es)

The Summer class for Scottish Country Dancing will start on Wednesday May 7, at the Marshall Center, Oak/Elm Room, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, in Vancouver, Washington. Classes meet every Wednesday from 7:45-9:15p.

This time you have two options

The "long" session 1 will run through August 27, for 17 weeks. The cost of the session is $61.00 ($56.50 if you live within the Vancouver city limits).

The "short" session 2 will run through June 25, for 8 weeks. The cost of this shorter session is $24.00 ($21.50 if you live within the Vancouver city limits).

To register with a credit card, you may call 696-8236 and specify class code EN0290.

We believe that we will be able to move to the air conditioned Lupke Center when the weather becomes warm.

Scottish Country Dancing, Hawaiian-Style
by Liza Halpenny

In March of 2003, four members of the Vancouver USA SCD group took a one-week trip to the Island of Hawaii on an SCD trip arranged by Ken McFarland. Marge van Nus, Geri Stuart, and Tom and Liza Halpenny joined over 80 other dancers from around the world to dance to the musical magic of fiddler Alasdair Fraser and pianist Muriel Johnstone.

The event was held at Kalani Honua Eco-Resort on the Puna Coast of the Big Island. Housing was in "hales" of around eight bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Meals, announced by the blowing of a conch shell, were served buffet-style on an open, covered patio. The emphasis was on vegetarian cuisine, but delicious meat dishes were also provided.

The dance hall was a huge screened pavilion, with a wooden floor "floated" on rubber tires. Many vases of tropical flowers were placed about, and water and snacks were provided the humid dancers. English Dancing was offered every morning as a "yoga" warm-up session. Every evening was Scottish Country Dancing, with one Hawaiian-themed night and one kilt night. Wednesday there was no dancing, so participants could take longer day trips.

A variety of interesting things to see surrounded the resort, from black sand beaches and natural steam vents to lava-coated trees and thermal pools. Some dancers went snorkeling in nearby tidepools. The city of Hilo, 45 minutes away, provided shopping. The main feature to visit was Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where visitors can hike through a lava tube, view the craters, visit informational sites, and, most spectacularly, hike out to the current lava flow to watch molten lava form the newest real estate on earth.

When the week on Hawaii was finished, about 50 of the dancers, plus Alasdair and Muriel, traveled to Oahu to attend a dance put on by the Honolulu SCD branch. Fantastic music, an exhausting amount of dancing, many new friendships, and amazing Hawaiian scenery are now blended in a unique and delightful aloha memory.

Top Ten Things that Make a Good Dancer

Here adapted to Scottish Country Dance by Marge Mcleod van Nus, excerpted from Jonathan Sivier's (et al) list for Contra Dancers. With Thanks (and apology).

A good dancer:

1. is always on time for the next figure by dancing with the music, on the beat, and with the proper phrase;

2. moves smoothly through the figures and helps his or her partner phrase with them;

3. gives eye contact with all dancers in the set. "If you feel like it, flirt with people you meet, it's fun and non-fattening";

4. can recover if the set breaks down; knows to skip a figure and when and where to pick up the next, with the musical cue;

5. is considerate and supportive -- does not physically force other dancers, gives firm arms and a handshake hold (modified as necessary);

6. can dance the opposite part, will fill in sets on either side as necessary;

7. avoids reckless movement, fancy spins and twirls; dances in their own space, not intruding on another dancer or in another set;

8. is courteous, listens quietly to the teaching (or briefing) and follows instruction, and lets the teacher sort out problems the dancers may have;

9. anticipates the next figure and executes transitions smoothly;

10. dances equally well as a supporting member of the set (e.g., 1st or 2nd corner) knowing when and where to join the next figure as the music and dance dictate.

To Help or Not to Help -- That is the Question
by Robert League

Excerpted from the March/April 2003 issue of the Tartan Times (RSCDS Boston Branch), an article originally appearing in the RSCDS Cincinnati Branch newsletter of Nov/2002.

It is a situation we have all faced. We look at our partner and see that "deer caught in the headlights" expression, and we want to help them. But should we? Are we really helping them? I think the answer to both questions is "no". But it is a very difficult temptation to resist.

What about the experienced dancer who has a momentary bout of amnesia? We have all been there. We start thinking about something else, and suddenly find ourselves facing another dancer wondering "What in the world do I do now?" At that point, another experienced dancer can give a non-verbal clue with a glance, extending a hand, or pointing to a shoulder that will refresh our memory and keep the dance going. (But how frustrating it is, when you have made a glitch in the dance and your punishment is to have your partner, or the entire set, spend the rest of the evening telling you every step and formation!) I think the only "help" we should give is non-verbal help, and only when it is silently requested. And even then, that only applies to a ball or a performance.

Often, in a class, a "newer" dancer will invite us to help them, saying, "just push me or pull me where I belong." We may want to help the dancer save face by instructing them along the way. We may even wish to maintain the dance, so that the set doesn't come to a crashing halt. But if we truly wish to help the "newer" dancers, we need to take a more long-term view.

It was not long ago that a newer dancer visited our social class and never came back. When they were asked why, they said it was because one of our members was constantly yelling at them! The strange thing is, I am certain our member truly believed they were being helpful. But if we will think back to our own early days in dancing, I am sure we have all had a similar experience. I remember well how many times my wife and I drove home from a dance class, vowing that we would never come back because of the rudeness of other dancers who thought they were helping.

Why do I believe we ought not to help other dancers? First, because it is rude. SCD is meant to be social dancing. And yelling, pushing, and pulling are not good ways to have social contact. Some people object to using the terms "ladies and gentlemen!" when referring to dancers, but I think they should be used to remind us to behave like "ladies and gentlemen."

Secondly, it is confusing. When a new dancer is standing in the middle of the set and various people are shouting, "Reel", "Right Shoulder", and "Go to George" (especially when the new person probably doesn't know everyone by name!) all the "hints" may not be very useful. And that is if they are all, in different words, telling them to do the right thing. But add to that the fact that there is always at least one person who thinks they know what comes next, but is mistaken and calls out the wrong advice, and the stage is set for a fiasco.

Thirdly, the helper becomes so involved in the helpee's dancing, that they are more apt to make a mistake in their own dancing. Most dances require at least the majority of our attention. When that attention is being sub-divided, we make it more likely that something important will be forgotten. If a set comes grinding to a halt, it is a message to the teacher that something has not been properly taught and understood. When that message is not delivered, the teacher assumes all is understood!...


Calendar of Events

May 7 - Aug 27

Spring/Summer term of Vancouver USA Dance class Note the new dates! Marshall Community Center, Oak/Elm Rooms, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver, WA

Catalog number EN0290, Wednesdays 7:45-9:15 PM
Session 1: 5/7 to 8/27 17 wks $56.50 city resident discount/ $61
Session 2: 5/7 to 6/25 8 wks $21.50 city resident discount/ $24

May 10

Portland Dance Party Tigard Grange, 13770 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard. 7:30-11 pm $4. For info, call Debbie 503-620-3034 ( )

Do you need ghillies? Representatives from James Senior of Edinburgh (makers of dancing shoes of many styles and colors) will be at the Portland monthly dance on May 10, Tigard Grange, 7:30 pm. You can try on and purchase shoes --- or order them if you wish a special color they might not have with them.

The program:

  The Famous Grouse
  Lets Have a Ceilidh
  Monadh Laith
  Dancing in the Street
  Flights of Fancy
  Campbell of Cawdor
  St Andrews Gardens
  Huntly Castle
  The Pensioner's Reel
  James Senior of Saint Andrews
  Roaring Jelly

May 16 - 19

Youth Weekend West -- North America

Sponsored by RSCDS Vancouver BC, this Workshop is the FIRST of its kind on this continent, being specifically for Youth (Age 30 and Under), and caters to both off-the-street beginners and Intermediate to Advanced dancers.

Application forms can be downloaded from the website, or requested by snail-mail by calling Noam at 604-738-3037. The registration deadline for hostel accommodation is April 7th.

In order for this Weekend to be the best it can be, we need your help in spreading the word - register your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, the kids next door, significant others, and tell dancers of all ages so they can tell the dancers *they* know!

For the *grownups*, remember that the Friday Ceilidh, May 16th, and Sunday Tea Dance, May 18th will be open to dancers of all ages! Tea Dance tickets will be available soon, and ceilidh tickets can be purchased at the door. Mark your calendars!

See http://www.rscdsvancouver.org/default.htm for more info.

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,

May 21

Vancouver USA Annual General Meeting Marshall Community Center, Oak/Elm Rooms, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver, WA, 9:15pm right after class.

May 23-26

Northwest FolkLife Festival, Seattle Center Northwest Folklife Sets Sail! "This year we continue to explore the integrated worlds of culture and nature in our featured festival program, East Meets West: Maritime Culture in the Atlantic Northeast and the Pacific Northwest".

See their website: http://www.nwfolklife.org for more info.

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 Tigard Grange, 13770 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard. 7:30-11 pm $4. For info, call Debbie 503-620-3034 ( )

The dance program:

    Mi Amigo (BJ)
    Fermat's Bicycle (IS)
    Petronella (BR)
    It's Just For Fun (IJ)
    The Balquidder Strathspey (BS)
    Let's Have a Ceilidh (IR)
    Surprise Dance
    St. Andrews Gardens (IJ)
    Campbell of Cawdor (BS)
    Rest and Be Thankful (IR)
    Yan Tan Tethra (BJ)
    Monadh Liath (IS)
    Silver Falls Reel (BR)

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 Marshall Community Center, Oak/Elm Rooms, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver, WA, 7:45-9:00pm

We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. - Nietzsche

  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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