Volume 27 #5
The Scottish Country Dancer
March/April 2011

Articles in This Issue
The Manager's Message
Dance Potpourri, 2011
Reminder, Dinner Dance Registration
Journal of a Beginning Scottish Dancer
Iona, Holy Isle, Part Two
Parkview Retirement Center Demonstration
Hogmany Dance and Scroll Presentation Photos
Teachers and Performance Coordinator Reports
Honouring Marge van Nus
Calendar of Events
The Manager's Message
by Linda Mae Dennis

A message from the Chair.

We're heading into spring firing on all cylinders - overscheduled oblivion is what my sister calls it. This is the time of year when lots of Scottish Country Dancing things happen, especially here in the Northwest.

To kick things off, we have the Portland Branch's annual Workshop and Ball. If you're fairly new to Scottish Country Dancing, a workshop is a very good thing. Because you spend much of a whole day concentrating on footwork and figures, things really start to click into place. I used to play badminton - they told me that entering a tournament would really improve my game, even if I lost right off the bat because I would be concentrating on and watching good badminton all day. They were right, and a workshop is the same deal. Do the best you can for yourself - dance, watch, and learn. This is not to say that experienced dancers should not attend workshops. More experienced dancers will get a lot out of a workshop as well, but perhaps only one or two subtle revelations wrapped in a lot of fun.

Following on the heels of the Workshop and Ball are the St. Patrick's Day performances. It is typical that Retirement Homes and Assisted Living Centers want entertainment for St. Patrick's Day. We usually end up doing several paid performances surrounding the day. Even if you haven't been dancing very long, please consider joining the team for a performance. The dances can be walked through, are always briefed, the team surrounding you will help you through any tricky parts, and the audience is very non-critical, and very happy to have a group of swirling skirts and kilts and smiling faces to entertain them. Really, it's the smiling faces. Do take the time to chat with the audience - they have stories to tell, and enjoy the human contact.

A few weeks later, we have our own Dinner Dance! It says 2nd Annual on the flyer, but this event has been going on annually in Vancouver for almost 30 years! And as the name indicates, it's a Dinner (at which almost everyone is an experienced eater) followed by a Dance, and I'm sure all the teachers are working hard to get everyone comfortable with the dances so that all can come and enjoy the festivities. It's a wonderful evening.

Beyond the Spring Dancing of course, comes the Summer Dancing, including festivals and fairs planned well ahead or fairly spontaneous. But, I can't think about that just yet. Let's do this Spring thing first.

Happy Dancing,
Reminder, Dinner Dance Registration
by The Editor

Hello everyone! Don't forget that our April dinner dance is coming up and we need to register before tax time, April 15th. The time goes quickly, so please don't forget!

"Sunshine and Daisies" at 
  Saint Luke's Episcopal Church 
  426 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.
  Vancouver, WA
  Dinner 6:00 p.m., Grand March and Dance 8:00 p.m.
  Music by Lisa Scott, Linda Danielson, and Leslie Hirsch.
  The flyer with registration details can be downloaded here: http://www.vancouverusa-scd.org/2011dinnerdanceflyer.pdf.

Iona, Holy Isle, Part Two
by Jill Kelly
Iona Abbey

The services are simple, too, a healing circle with a laying on of hands, a candle, and a prayer on Tuesday nights, one I never miss if I am there. Communion on Sundays before the tourist influx, beginning at Easter time, is given at a long wooden table between the choir stalls, where everyone sits at the same table, drinks wine from the same cup, and eats from the same loaf. On Easter morning, a simple wooden cross is carried from the graveyard into the church, every inch of the cross covered with daffodils from the isle. Easter is the only time the services I've seen have included a rather important invited minister, hand made banners, and balloons. The Abbey is home to a small community of seekers who write letters for justice to places all across the world, are sometimes considered radical by the church of Scotland, people who cherish the solitude of winter and dedicate themselves to serving visiting pilgrims all summer long. They are women mostly, lay people, soaking up the holiness that comes with every breath and the soft communion with God.

Iona Nunnery

There's little else to say about Iona, except that the beaches and wee coves are glorious. To the north, about a mile past the Abbey, through a farmer's field, and down the dunes, a long white beach stretches from east to west. One can spend hours exploring the rocky coves or watching the breath-takingly beautiful surf. Staffa can be seen off to the right, and a small wave-battered rock, called the Dutchman's Cap, over to the left. There are sheep everywhere, for Iona is a crofting as well as fishing community. In March, the lambs are born. Once I peeked out my bed and breakfast window at sunset to see a tiny lamb born in two minutes flat! The crofter by the north beach puts vests on his lambs, because otherwise he loses too many to the cold north winds.

Walking south again, past the Abbey and through the village, a mile or so, the path turns west. Following that across the isle, one comes to the western beach, my favorite spot. It has rocks of white marble and a cave in the headlands that feels like an ancient chapel hewn out of rock. Crossing the grassy hummocks to the north of the beach, one comes to a wee cove, preternaturally lovely with white sands, azure waters, and headlands that keep it secluded from the rest of the world. At least three quarters of the tourists who come to Iona merely walk up to the Abbey and back to the ferry again. Even in summer, there are few people on the beaches. In winter, you have them all to yourself . . . .

Hogmany Dance and Scroll Presentation Photos

Our Musical Friends
Our Dance for Marge
Receiving the Scroll
Too Much Tasty Food!
Singing Marge's Song
Smiling Faces
All Joining In

Honouring Marge van Nus
by Elinor M. Vandegrift
    to the tune of "A Bicycle Built for Two"

Margie, Margie we're here to celebrate you -
We're all crazy for all the things you do.
You've helped groups keep a balance
With your many great talents -
Always look neat
With your well pointed feet,
And now with a SCROLL from H.Q.!

Margie, Margie thanks for all you have done
To make Scottish Dancing lots and lots of fun.
Starting up classes, doing demos too;
So many are dancing now 'cos of you -
Led trips far and wide
To globe's other side -
You now have a SCROLL from H.Q.!

Margie, Margie we heard of your checkered design -
'Tis our State tartan and is really quite fine;
Dancers and pipers swagger in queue
Kilts and sashes now worn 'cos of you,
All look so great
Regardless of weight -
And you have a SCROLL from H.Q.!

Margie, Margie you play fiddle so people can dance,
Some try a bow when you say "Take a chance";
Music for class - thanks to you
Oh joy that was something anew -
'Tis a good thing
To dance, play and sing
And you have a SCROLL from H.Q.!

Margie, Margie we're honoured to be here today.
"Congratulations from all" - we can say;
Your friends pay homage to you
Lots are here - we're more than a few -
We think you are swell -
Please do keep well -
Enjoy that SCROLL from H.Q.!

Elinor M. Vandegrift

January 1, 2011
Dance Potpourri, 2011
by The Editor

Hello everyone!

This time around, while the memories are still fresh, I thought I would share the perspective of someone who is a dancer and while at the event wanted to observe a bit before participating.

One thing that is true of dances from different cultures and different parts of the world is that they are means of entering into the world and culture where the dances found their genesis.

Stepping Out

We participated in four major kinds of dances, Scottish taught by our own Marge van Nus, West African Dance by Hannah DeWeese, Sandra Reinoehl who lead us in Arab Folk Dance (Lebanese Debke), Johnny Griffith who guided us non-Latin types in rough approximations of Salsa, and Andy Chumbley who brought us Western Line Dance.

Each of these forms tells you a little bit about the culture and the people they spring from. The Western African dances with their whole body movements tell quite a bit about the physical life and the demonstrative nature of those who live in Western Africa. One dance, for example, shows the motions of a river fisherman throwing a net into the river in the shallows by the bank and pulling it in.

Out of Africa

The Arabic forms with their long lines of dancers, with tightly clasped hands shoulder to shoulder, with rotating leaders who set the intensity and the step of the dance reveals flavor of the tribal and family oriented culture that spawned it.

Salsa reveals the Latin penchant for romance, grace, and machismo that are such distinctive parts of Latin America, through the distinctively feminine and masculine arm and hand motions around the body and the give and take of the dancers, one with another.

Western Line Dance is a modern child of the honky tonks and saloons of the United States. It has links to folk dance forms from throughout the world and seems to have an egalitarian flavor as genders don't have to be balanced and there isn't the contact between people as in many other forms of dancing. I can only speculate, but this form seems to have connections to square dance and clogging, forms from the Appalachian mountains in the American Southeast and the American West.

Scottish country dancing has a long history connecting a country long divided between Highland and Lowland Scotland and connected to its partner in the "Auld Alliance", France. This form is a combination of couples dancing together and teams of couples. Many of the dances are dedicated to individuals, famous or loved. Many tell a story as in "The White Cockade" which tells of the white cluster of ribbons worn on a hat that was a symbol of Scottish Jacobism, a political movement during the much romanticised time of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The foot positions and names of some figures, such as Pas de Basque (Setting) and the Poussette are French in origin and style. In Scottish history, wherever there were people gathered together, whether in a grand castle hall or on village green a fiddler or a piper would be rustled up or a group of musicians, i.e. c˛mhlan ci¨il, and they would entertain themselves with reels and dances they were familiar with.

So, folks. If you don't have the time and/or money to travel overseas, when we have our next Dance Potpourri, come join us and learn of the cultures and peoples from around the world through their dancing!

Journal of a Beginning Scottish Dancer
by Tom Halpenny

Following is an excerpt from our family Christmas letter in 1997, which was the first year we learned Scottish Country Dance. I thought it was interesting to read what was going through my mind as I struggled to learn to dance. Little did I know that Scottish Dance would become a significant part of my social and health life.

"I have been working extra long hours this year at HP, an average of 10 hours per day, on a new printer which will be introduced next spring, so I have not had a great deal of time for many interesting personal activities. However, Liza has had the wisdom to get us both to participate in the local Scottish Country Dancing class, beginning last spring. We had first been introduced to SCD during a vacation trip to Victoria British Columbia two years ago. Liza took Kathryn and Hannah to a beautiful nearby park with gardens with duck ponds and an outdoor theater; I came to find them an hour later. I first found K & H chasing the ducks in the duck pond, and I could hear some music nearby. So I continued on to investigate the music, which brought me to the theater, where some sort of folk dancing was taking place. Upon closer scrutiny, I realized that Liza was an active participant, so I sat down to watch. When the current dance was finished, one of the 30 or so dancers approached me, and before I knew what was happening I was now part of the group. I recall being able to half-way learn the steps so that I could get through the dances which followed. It was a fun time for us, so two years later, Liza tracked down the Scottish Country Dancing group in our town, and we were enrolled in the class.

"As with all activities which we have done together, Liza was able to learn the dance skills faster than I could. We have a wonderful teacher who is able to adapt the weekly dance lessons to the current skills of the participants. She explains things very clearly, and gives everyone encouragement. I became aware of how disconnected my left and right brains are. The teacher would walk us through the steps of a dance and my left brain could absorb it. But when she turned on the music to dance the steps, my right brain could not seem to remember how to do the steps. After enough repetition, I am now able to dance more confidently. I know the difference between a Jig, Reel, and Strathspey, and I am now finally able to do the basic formations, some of which are called Skip Change, Pas de Basque (Setting), Poussette, Figure-8, Rights-and-Lefts, Back-to-Back, Wheel, Left- & Right-Shoulder Reel of Three. In addition, I have become the editor of the group's bimonthly newsletter, with three published issues under my belt."

Parkview Retirement Center Demonstration
by Liza Halpenny
Dancing With The Audience
Cool Down, With Ice Cream!

(From the editor: To all those who have had even a passing thought about this, look at what you're missing!)

Thank you, intrepid Parkview dancers, for our splendid performance last night. I could tell you all studied your dances at home because, even though we had such a rushed walk-through of the dances, the performance went quite smoothly. It was a pleasure and an honor to work with such a happy, willing, and talented group. A special thank you to John and Susan for your lovely dance, and Martin for your beautiful poem. Tom, thanks for sticking your toe into the waters of the kilt talk.

It was also a nice reward to spend leisure time chatting each other up over ice cream afterward (even if my coffee ice cream with hot fudge did keep me awake most of the night). Looking forward to more good times with you all.

Teachers and Performance Coordinator Reports
by The Editor

Teachers Report

Classes are continuing with a little change. If you haven't noticed, we have a change from Friday night to Sunday late afternoon/early evening classes at Firstenburg. All classes could use more students so encourage everyone you know to give it a try!

Performance Coordinator Report

There are a lot of events coming up with St Patrick celebrations around the corner. We are having difficulty getting enough dancers to sign up. When that happens we have to cancel events - not a good business practice. So . . . even if you are a beginner, when the 'call' goes out announcing an event, it means YOU, everyone! No matter what level of dancing skill you have you can still help!

Being a non-profit group, you may not realize it is these events that bring in the funds we use to support our teachers, classes, and dances. If it may be possible but you have certain time constraints or another day would be better, please let that be known.


Calendar of Events

Mar 12: Portland 32nd Annual Workshop & Ball
Teachers: Marian Stroh, Reno, NV, and Tim Wilson, San Francisco, CA.
Musicians: Calum MacKinnon, Lisa Scott, Marcia Thumma

Location: Masonic Friendship Center
5625 NE Alameda St.
Portland, OR

      Mrs. Stewart's Jig            Bk 36
      Staffin Harvest               RSCDS 4-1978
      Jessie's Hornpipe             Bk 8
      Major Ian Stewart             Bk 35
      Belle of Bon Accord           Drewry
      The Montgomeries' Rant        Bk 10
      The Barmkin                   Goldring
      From Scotia's Shores We're
          Noo Awa'                  RSCDS Leaflets
      Laird of Milton's Daughter    Bk 22
      Intermission (15 minutes)
      The Sailor                    Bk 24
      The Compleat Gardener         I. Patterson
      Bruce's Men                   Scotia Suite
      Fair Ronny's Reel             Tim Wilson
      Lord Elgin's Reel             Bk 26
      White Heather Jig             Cosh
      Reel of the Royal Scots       RSCDS Leaflets
      Auld Lang Syne
Schedule: Registration 9:30 - 10:00 am.
Classes (including lunch) 10:00 am. - 4:00 pm.
Ball walk-through 4:00 - 4:30
Grand March and Ball 7:30 pm.

For registration information, contact , or call 503.692.5963.
Mar 19: The Heather Ball
The Vancouver Branch, B.C. RSCDS presents
The Heather Ball
Sunday, March 19, 2011
Scottish Cultural Centre, Vancouver, BC
Music by Bobby Brown and the Scottish Accent
  Tickets can be purchased for $70 from Mary Ann McDevitt at 604-929-2944
  Visit the branch website for updates and dance program:  www.rscdsvancouver.org
  Don't miss out!
Mar 29: Fifth Tuesday Mixer
An easy evening of dances for all levels of Scottish Country dancers.
Columbia Dance Center, 1700 Broadway St., Vancouver, WA.
7:15 - 9:00pm, $3/dancer
with tea and cookies after.
All dancers welcome!
Apr 9: Portland Monthly Dance
7:30 pm. at Hope Community Church, 14790 Boones Ferry Rd, Lake Oswego, OR 97034. $5.
Apr 30: Second Annual Dinner Dance
"Sunshine and Daisies" at
Saint Luke's Episcopal Church
426 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.
Vancouver, WA Dinner 6:00 p.m., Grand March and Dance 8:00 p.m. Music by Lisa Scott, Linda Danielson, and Leslie Hirsch. The flyer with registration details can be downloaded here: http://www.vancouverusa-scd.org/2011dinnerdanceflyer.pdf.

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance. ~Author Unknown

  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:  

  Martin MacKenzie
  10701 SE Hwy 212 C-7
  Clackamas, Or 97015

  By email:  

  The Scottish Country Dancer is a bi-monthly publication of the RSCDS Southwest Washington State Branch, a non-profit educational organization. For changes of address, please contact Martin MacKenzie, 10701 SE Hwy 212 C-7 Clackamas, Or 97015, . 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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