Volume 20 #6
The Scottish Country Dancer
May/June 2004

Articles in This Issue
    Why Are We Here? WARM UP, and COOL DOWN
    So You Can't Read Pillings? The Birks of Invermay
    Memories of Our April Dance Calendar of Events
    Calendar Notes
Why Are We Here?
by Liza Halpenny

What brings us to Scottish Country Dance class? I believe it is love. Love of dancing. Love of the music. Love of spending time with this group of people.

The magic of dance class is dropping at the door all the unhappiness of the world and one's life, to spend time completely in the present. Dancing is so real and yet so ephemeral. We each get to express our own unique combination of grace, joy, accuracy, and energy without having to create a product, add to the bottom line, or solve any problems. We all add to the fun, whether we are there just for exercise and companionship, or whether we are personally driven to perfect our technique.

Something I find valuable to keep in mind is that it is JUST A DANCE. Even if I make a blunder so magnificent that it brings the dance to a crashing halt -- it doesn't matter. It's just a dance. I haven't threatened world peace. I haven't brought down a national corporation and bankrupted its stockholders. In the moment to moment of a dance, we all get confused, we all forget. Part of the fun is recovery.

Remembering that I am here to find joy in the moment helps me stay out of the chasm of self-condemnation, criticism, blame, pouting, or frustration. Helping and being helped by fellow dancers with a smile, a gesture, a nod in the right direction enriches me. I am here because I love to dance, I love this music and, most of all, I love these people.

So You Can't Read Pillings?
by Dave Wilson

Could you read English when you were four? Were the Latin letters just gibberish? Hmm, was the difference that it didn't occur to you that you couldn't learn? Big news -- Pillings is simpler than English.

Pillings is not phonetic. It's a combination of ideographs, abbreviations, and sketch maps. So, how can you learn to read it?

First, make a copy of the key from the front of a Pilling book, so you can refer to it easily. Now for the BIG TIP. Choose a straight-forward dance, dance it, THEN refer to the Pillings. That makes it pretty easy. It also serves to remind you that Pillings is best as a reminder for dances with which you have some familiarity. It's not a great way to learn a new dance, though as you get more comfortable with it you might surprise yourself. And you should keep in mind that Pillings doesn't give you the whole story -- especially missing are transitions between figures.

A few useful conventions and examples:

  • The head of the set is to the left.
  • Men are circles, women squares (what can I say)
  • Tracks are sketch maps -- solid lines for men, dotted for women.
  • Reels of three are ideographs and sketch maps, the little lines indicating how the active couple enters. (Use dances you know to sort that out. That's easier than words.)
  • Petronella is just an ideograph.

Examples of abbreviations are: PROM (promenade), P (poussette), DT (double triangles), and D (back to back -- huh? doh si doh?) A few just come out and say it -- RONDEL, KNOT.

Accept that you'll learn bit by bit -- from Dick and Jane to Godel, Escher, Bach. Or maybe you'll just get to Gone with the Wind. It's worth the effort. Have fun.

Memories of Our April Dance

Cultures from around the world were broadly represented at the April 17th dance sponsored by the Vancouver SCD group. The theme of this year's dance was, "Scottish Country Dancing Around the World", and dancers were given the opportunity to wear such ethnic garb as they might have at hand.

South meets West
Friends from Kelso

Amazingly, everyone availed themselves of that opportunity! Not only were there to be found costumes representing America, Canada, and Great Britain, but there were several dancers clad as "visitors" from Latin America, Japan, Korea, and other Pacific Rim localities, as well as a lady from Texas -- a "whole 'nother country". One brave fellow even wore the traditional attire of Scotland!

Lisa and Linda

The lively music for this garb gala was provided by Lisa Scot on the piano and Linda Danielson on the fiddle. Their tunes and driving beat were very much enjoyed and appreciated by all.

With the music, and the dance, and the tea -- and don't forget the travel posters! -- it was an evening to be remembered, all the way till next time.

Calendar Notes
Next Class Session Starts Soon!

At the Marshall Center, the next "semester" is almost here. The current Scottish Country Dance class runs through April 28th, and the next session starts the very next week, from May 5th through June 30th.

You can sign up for class now, by registering at the Marshall Center, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, or by calling (360) 696-8236. The class number is 22243

Sign up today!

SCD Summer Picnic

There's new information about the Joint Summer Picnic. See the Calendar entry for June 27th!

by Marge van Nus

Warm up before dancing means literally to "warm" the muscles by increasing the blood flow, thereby raising the temperature of the muscles. This can be accomplished by walking around the room, by exercising, or by participating in a "walking dance". Warmed muscles and well lubricated joints help prevent dance injury. Also, stretching can safely be done AFTER warm up. Stretching itself does not warm muscles. Stretching a cold muscle can cause strands of tissue to break (unfelt) according to Dr. Sumarko, an Orthopedic specialist for ballet dancers. This causes the muscle to be in need of constant repair. It can be cumulative -- leading to injury.

Cool down is allowing the muscles to regain their normal state. This is one reason I like to finish class with a waltz. Stretching after class also helps pull out the kinks, letting the muscles loose their tenseness.

Socialize before class all you like but do so while walking or exercising, and be ready to dance. After class, take shoes off and stretch a moment, leave feeling relaxed.

The Birks of Invermay

The 'birches' of Invermay, a district in Perthshire at the junction of the river May with the Earn [sic]. The beautiful tune which bears this title was first published in the Orpheus Caledonius as The Birks of Endermay. This spelling is followed in some other eighteenth century collections, and Bremner has Invermay in the title of the song and Endermay in the title of the tune! (First Song Collection)

There is no locality known as "Endermay" although there is a River Ender in Blair Atholl, and this has given rise to some questionings in the past. Robert Chambers, however, a noted early nineteenth century author and Scottish antiquarian, has observed: "Ender is merely a corruption of Inver or Inner. The people of Peebles, in my young days, always spoke of Henderleithen, not Innerleithen," and this is the most acceptable explanation.

As usual with the better Scottish airs, more than one set of verses are extant. The first, however, are those due to David Malloch (or Mallet) (1705-1765), who was born in Perthshire and rose from the humber station of janitor of the Edinburgh High School to a position of consequence in the literary circles of London. Unfortunately, he procured much of his progress and success at the expense of honour and was much despised in London for his self-seeking expediency. On his side he had to overcome the disadvantage of his background.

No matter, Malloch was a very minor poet who would escape our notice entirely were it not for this song. It can hardly be claimed that he has written an ideal setting, but no one has produced a better:

        The smiling morn, the breathing spring,
        Invite the tuneful birds to sing;
        And while they warble from each spray,
        Love melts the universal lay.
        Let us, Amanda, timely wise,
        Like them, improve the hour that flies;
        And in soft raptures waste the day
        Among the birks of Invermay.
        For soon the winter of the year,
        And age, life's winter, will appear;
        At this thy living bloom will fade,
        As that will strip the verdant shade.
        Our taste of pleasure then is o'er,
        The feathered songsters are no more;
        And when they drop, and we decay,
        Adieu the birks of Invermay!


Calendar of Events

May 5: Start of Spring Class, Vancouver USA SCD
The next class session runs from May 5 through June 30. Registration begins April 20th for city residents, April 22nd for those outside the city. The class number is 22243. You can register at the Marshall Center, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd., or by calling 696-8236. The May-August edition of the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation catalog is now available -- check it out, and be sure to sign up for class.

Just to avoid confusion, the current session of the class runs through April 28th.
May 7-9: The Pearl Holmberg Workshop for Teachers and Musicians
This workshop, their fifth, will be held at the Scottish Cultural Centre, 8886 Hudson Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

"This workshop is aimed at Musicians who are already proficient on their instruments, who play for (or would like to play for) Scottish Country Dance; and to teachers certificated or not, who currently teach a class."

Instructors: Helen Frame (dance), and Barbara McOwen and Jennifer Wilson (music).

For more information, or to receive a registration packet, contact the Registrar at: . You can also download registration forms from their webpage, at http://www.rscdsvancouver.org/workshop.html
May 15-16: Pomeroy Herb Fest
20902 NE Lucia Falls Road Yacolt, WA 98675
Crafts, herbs and other plants -- and dancing!
June 27: Vancouver USA SCD Summer Picnic

The Portland and Vancouver Scottish Country Dancers will hold a joint summer picnic on Sunday June 27th in Battle Ground, WA at the Lewisville Park "Oak" site.

Come any time. Lunch 1:00p.m. Dancing after lunch.

For a day of Fun, Food, and Frolic

Bring: Your family, a potluck dish to share, Tableware for yourself, Games.
$2.00 / car entrance fee

For more information, call Tom or Liza Halpenny (360) 887-1888.

July 17: Portland Highland Games
more info as it emerges
Aug 6-15: Clark County Fair
Clark County Fairgrounds, 17402 NE Delfel Rd., Ridgefield, WA
Sep 10-12: Fort Worden 2004
Save the date for the RSCDS Seattle Branch Annual Weekend Workshop, Pearls of the Northwest

30th Anniversary Fort Worden 2004 September 10-12, 2004.

Musicians: Muriel Johnstone (piano), Keith Smith (fiddle), Ralph Gordon (cello, bass), Calum MacKinnon (fiddle).

Teachers: Vicki Goodloe (KY), Sara Gratiot (CA), John Middleton (Ontario), Ron Wallace (CA).

Classes, Four tracks: Intermediate SCD, Advanced SCD, Ball Program Dances, and Alternate Dance Forms.

Application forms will be out in April or check our website for an online form: http://www.rscds-seattle.org

"Oh Lord, we do not ask you to give us wealth. But show us where it is!" -- A Scottish prayer

  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.
Generated Tuesday April 27, 2004