Volume 28 #5
The Scottish Country Dancer
March/April 2012

 
Articles in This Issue
SCD and Math
The Manager's Message
Irish Ceili Dance
Dancing License Plate
Things More Important Than Dancing
Isaac Wilder
TAC Summer School, from The Puget Scot
Announcements from the Branch Secretary
How Much Does Dancing Increase Physical Activity?
Calendar of Events
 
SCD and Math
by Eunice MacKenzie
 

Scottish Country Dancing has been touted over the years as being a good mental exercise in addition to its obvious physical benefits.

This Scottish dancer knows this to be true from personal experience. I well remember my days (okay, years!) of being directionally challenged on the dance floor.

Eunice MacKenzie

Coincidentally, about the time I finally mastered my four corners, my daughter, Katherine (a.k.a. Kathy or Kat) found herself challenged in an aspect of her Algebra course. She was having difficulty remembering the order of the four corners on her coordinates graph because they went from right to left instead of left to right. When she showed it to me from her work, I was struck with an idea of how to help her remember. I told her to think of the corners in Scottish Country dancing!

Since she was already an accomplished dancer, this was just what she needed to further her knowledge base.

 
Irish Ceili Dance
by Tom Halpenny
 

Tom and Liza attended the monthly 3rd Friday Irish Ceili Dance at the PPAA, 618 SE Alder St Portland, 8pm-12am, $10. A four-piece Irish band played energetic jigs similar to music at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpnssx_0evg

The lesson before the dance was adequate for us to dance the figures. The program began with a couple dances in two longwise sets, and progressed to square sets. Irish Ceili dance is aerobically a step up from Scottish dance. Figures include House, Square, and Swing. The Swing figure can rapidly rotate partners. The footwork is a walking skip change ("two-step") rhythm.

Over 50 dancers attended the event, including many young people. We met Portland SCD friends Anya and husband Brian. We also met Darrick, and Betty whom we met at the February Portland Scottish dance in Lake Oswego. Both regularly attend the Irish Ceili dance. Several visitors who were in town to attend the Sean-nůs Northwest Irish Festival performed step dances during the intermission.

Portland Irish Ceili dance activities can be viewed at http://www.portlandceilisociety.org/

 
Things More Important Than Dancing
by Jill Frew
 
Our Own Pixie

I was first introduced to Scottish Country Dancing at a demonstration one summer, at a fair being held where my daughters went to school in Michigan. I didn't notice whether toes were pointed or mistakes made, not that I'd have known anyway. What made an impression was the way my eyes brightened and my toes wiggled in my eagerness to get up and learn to do that. There was a deep link to Scotland in those dances that lit a yearning in my heart, a flame that lingered for twenty years. Unfortunately, that particular dance group met at a time and location too far away for a working mother of three to be able to attend.

So I didn't actually start dancing until my daughters were grown and I'd moved to New England. That first class, I was SO excited to finally be able to begin. But my enthusiasm was quickly dampened by some of the things that happened there, things I'm not going to specify here.

THEN I moved to Vancouver, found the RSCDS website, and decided to give it one more try. The first thing that greeted me when I walked into the Oak room at the Marshall Center a little over two years ago was Linda Mae's cheerful smile. I was quiet for a few classes, I remember, surprised when five people didn't start shouting at me when I made a mistake and that we weren't asked to dance one at a time for the rest of the class to critique. I know I apologized far too often then as well.

But slowly, my tension began to drop away. I noticed that one night and realized how much easier it was to remember the briefs and the steps when I wasn't wary all the time. And when I asked for walk-throughs for timing or to get small details of turns perhaps, Linda Mae was enthusiastic, and very, VERY careful in her explanations. And she was more than patient, even counting out the rhythm for all of us as we danced until we understood it. The inner voice that kept telling me I was the worst dancer in the room started to fade at some point, too. Sometimes Linda Mae even told me I'd done something well! And no one pushed me to remember more details when I was clearly confused and struggling to remember even the basic steps. Occasionally, my chronic sleep disorder made me pretty fuzzy with details, but my 'disability' of before didn't get in the way too much this time. People were actually understanding and kind, others in the class having similar struggles once in a while.

Eyemouth, Berwickshire, Scotland

The next thing that stands out in my mind from those first classes are Martin's one liners and dancing eyebrows that got me giggling more often than not. Laughter must help learning greatly, because I got better far faster after that. I can tell you from experience that laughter completely melts icy perfectionism. Thank goodness! And everyone in the class was courteous. I was amazed. Lots of thawing was happening inside. Oh, yeah. And I was learning at light speed relative to how fast I'd been learning before.

After a year, I braved coming to balls and doing a few of the simpler demos. And now that I realize I'll be moving back east this coming August, I've been thinking about what I'll remember most from this class after I leave. One thing that stands out is the way everyone smiles when their feet start moving, Lanette's impish grin, for instance, Van's small sweet smile that somehow reminds me of violets. Another is the time last spring when Martin searched me out at a ball to ask about my daughter in Damascus, and said he hoped she'd stay safe and that I wouldn't have to be so worried for long. Other favorite memories are the balls that were so magical, the demos at nursing homes that warmed my heart, and when I got to help with decorations that to me meant belonging, the polar opposite of what I'd felt in relation to SCD before. Of course, Linda Mae's expertise and the many dances I learned and love are on this list. All those 'ah-ha' dancing moments go on it, plus Linda Mae's corn candy skirt and earrings that match, which she made herself and blew me away by how creative and whimsical she is.

But I think my favorite memory will always be one night after about a year of dancing here, when we were practicing Curry Mountain for an upcoming dance. And I got it just from the brief, dancing it reasonably well right away, though probably without pointing my toes. (I remembered that dance particularly because I'd messed up on it at a ball before I moved out here and was told not to come to those dances any more.) I was so excited when I realized I could dance it that I ran up to Linda Mae during the break and literally shouted, "I can do Curry Mountain!" I was mumbling about how long I'd been waiting to learn Scottish dancing, thanking her, and starting to cry. She said not one thing about my imperfect toes. With sparkling eyes, she gave me that fabulous grin and a Linda Mae hug. THAT'S the way to teach!

 
TAC Summer School, from The Puget Scot
by Michael Bancroft
 

In July, Vicki Curry and I attended the Teachers Association of Canada summer school, a.k.a. "summer camp" for the fun everybody had. It was held in Sherbrooke, Quebec at an attractive Anglophone university in a sea of Francophones. We had an enjoyable, rewarding week.

I was apprehensive about the potential physical and mental rigors of a solid week of SCD under the auspices of the renowned T.A.C. I was pleasantly surprised. My soreness plateaued after the third day and decreased thereafter. The teachers (and musicians!) were uniformly excellent, having high expectations for my advanced classes. There were five skill-level classes, so that everyone found their comfortable match. The teachers were upbeat and funny. That slipped only a bit toward the sixth day of classes, perhaps due to their rigorous schedule, teaching 9:00 am to 5:00pm, dancing or MCing 'til 10:00 pm, and partying until 3:00 am. Best of all, the dancers and staff were easygoing and welcoming. First-timers had a symbol on their name tags, so that they could be welcomed and included. International diversity was conducive to many vibrant conversations

The morning SCD classes lasted three hours. There were three one-hour sessions in the afternoon, with a wide assortment (different each day) of dance genres, music appreciation, and teaching skills. We particularly enjoyed Muriel Johnstone's two sessions, richly orchestrated, on SCD music, in general and the strathspey in particular. Attendance at the morning classes and afternoon sessions stayed remarkably high as the week wore on. The evening concert given by the musicians was stupendous: the talent show, hilarious.

T.A.C. is coming to the States. The next summer school will be in Portland, July 29th to August 5th, 2012. For more information, go to http://www.tac-rscds.org/summer-school

It really is an experience not to be missed!

Note that the final date for the 'cheap' sign-ups is April 30th, 2012. ~ The Editor

 
How Much Does Dancing Increase Physical Activity?
by Tom Halpenny
 

I recently reached the one-year anniversary recording daily pedometer steps. I averaged 10,334 steps per day, 3.7 million steps during the year. An active person is able to walk 10,000 steps per day.

I analyzed the 1-year data of daily pedometer steps to get a better idea how many additional steps came from dancing. My daily log tells me which days were a Dance Day vs a Non-Dance day.

  
  187 Dance days            12,728 steps/day
  178 Non-Dance days     7819 steps/day
  

A Dance Day averages 4900 steps greater than a Non-Dance Day. The pedometer registers about 2000 steps per walking mile. Dancing step distance varies. Dance forms I did are Scottish Dance, Square Dance, Round Dance, International Folk Dance, Zumba, Zombie Dance.

 
The Manager's Message
by Linda Mae Dennis
 
The Manager Herself

The dance season is in full swing! In classes we are preparing for upcoming galas, including our own Dinner Dance. Beyond the regular classes, there are many additional opportunities to participate through the spring and summer. And the requests for dancers for entertainment are beginning to roll in. Dancing, after all, is what we do best, and it is also the best way for us to make money and attract new dancers.

Not to bore you with the inner workings of Branch finances, but if we follow the money, we find ourselves on a circular path. We try hard to find dancing opportunities (demonstrations) that bring us joy, attract new dancers, and make some money. If all three of these things happen at the same time, so much the better! We use the money to back the three main dances that we put on each year, the Fall Dance, the Betwixt and Between Dance, and the Dinner Dance. Most of the time, we try to break even on these dances, keeping the ticket prices as low as possible, while hiring the best possible musicians. If we do break even, the money we made on demonstrations stays in the bank. If not, we cover the difference. From time to time, if the money in the bank builds up, we can subsidize an even fancier, more sparkling dance.

The whole point of this being that in order to do demonstrations, we need dancers. Yes, even if you are a brand new beginning dancer. Please don't worry that you might mess up and make a fool of yourself. This is part of what we do, and part of the fun. And it is a demonstration of what we do, after all, and is not meant to be a flawless show intended for prime time television. The teachers leading the demonstrations sometimes like to have beginning dancers demonstrate how a dance would work in a classroom setting, complete with a walkthrough, a briefing, and a bit of coaching through the dance. And often, beginning dancers attract more new dancers than seasoned dancers do, because they make Scottish Country Dancing seem more accessible (especially if they look like they're having fun). If people are watching a flawless demonstration of a complicated dance done by expert dancers, and there is nothing to compare it to, they tend to think, "I could never do that," and just walk away.

Guinness Tootsies

Of course, there are many kinds of demonstrations. Sometimes people do expect a 'show' (and in this case it is likely that there would be an extra practice or two); sometimes there is a group of people who want to give the dancing a try, so we prepare for audience participation. In each case, the teacher leading the demonstration will assess what is expected, and try their best to deliver using the dancers that have signed up.

So, when the call goes out for dancers for a demonstration, please do consider signing up, and helping the whole group stay on our path of dancing for money (or dancers), so that we can dance for fun.

 
Dancing License Plate
by Tom Halpenny
 

Did you know that Washington's official state dance is Square Dance? I recently learned about and ordered Square Dance license plates. Square Dance became the official Washington state dance in 1979. Square Dance license plate sales began in 1993, displaying a red dancing couple silhouette.

I discovered that when I mount the Square Dance license plate with my existing frame, the "Square Dancers" name at the bottom is covered by "Scottish Country Dancer", my other favorite dance form! The SD license plate letters have been transformed from Square Dance to Scottish Dance. RSCDS is an abbreviation for Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.

 
Isaac Wilder
by The Editor, via Tom Halpenny
 
Isaac Wilder













Our old SCD friend Isaac Wilder who now lives in Kentucky has recently had a lung transplant as he developed a lung disease called pulmonary fibrosis which, in essence, means "hardening of the lungs." There is no known cause for it and the only cure is a lung transplant. This disease usually takes its toll within three to five years. Fortunately, he was put on the transplant list, received a new set of lungs courtesy of a generous organ donor and has been recovering from that process to the joy of his family and a positive answer to all of their prayers for his recovery.

For those of you with facebook accounts, Isaac and his son, Aaron, have been updating his page on Isaac's progress at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1599122197

 
Announcements from the Branch Secretary
by Rebecca Mintz
 

The RSCDS Southwest Washington State Branch's Board meets every other month of the year. The meetings are open to all who wish to attend. If you would like to read previous meetings' minutes, please contact the current Branch Secretary, Rebecca Mintz by email at rebecca.mintz [at] yahoo.com.

Thank you to all who came to the 5th Tuesday Mixer on January 31st. It was our biggest 5th Tuesday yet. We had 30 dancers on the floor at one point! It's always wonderful to see both returning and new dancers. Please join us again for the next 5th Tuesday Mixer on Tuesday, May 29th at 7:15pm at the Columbia Dance Studio. All dancers are welcome, including first-timers! There will be refreshing beverages and snacks to go with the visiting afterward.

The Branch's annual Dinner Dance is fast approaching! Please join us for Tartan and Tulips at the Minnehaha Grange on Saturday, April 28, 2012. Registration and dance cribs are available in the newsletter and on our website at http://www.vancouverusa-scd.org/

 

Calendar of Events


Mar 10, 2012: RSCDS Portland 33rd Annual Workshop and Ball
Save the date!
Norse Hall, 111 NE 11th Ave., Portland, OR.
Teachers: Fiona Miller, Lethbridge, AB; Andrew Smith, Emporia, KS.
Musicians: Andy Imbrie, piano; Deby Benton Grosjean, fiddle; Renata Bratt, cello.

Ball Program:
The Happy Meeting 		RSCDS Bk 29
Bonnie Stronshiray 		Glasgow Assembly
Tomalena 			SF Collection Vol 2
Da Rain Dancin'			Whiteadder Col.
Lady Lucy Ramsay 		MMM 2
Peat Fire Flame 		Drewry
Well Done Jack 			RSCDS Bk 29
The Robertson Rant 		RSCDS Bk 39
The Craven Reel 		5th Carnforth Col.

Intermission

The Tattie Bogle 		1st Carnforth Col.
Red House 			RSCDS Bk 7
Monymusk 			RSCDS Bk 11
Tribute to the Borders 		RSCDS Leaflets
Neidpath Castle 		RSCDS Bk 22
The Immigrant Lass 		RSCDS Bk 39
The De'il Amang The Tailors 	RSCDS Bk 14

Waltz
Auld Lang Syne
  
April 28, 2012: The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society SW Washington State Branch 3rd Annual Dinner Dance
Minnehaha Grange 4905 NE St. Johns Rd. Vancouver, WA 98661

Tartan and Tulips
Our musicians will be: Lisa Scott ~ Leslie Hirsch ~ Linda Danielson

Dance Program:

The Brudenell Jig		Second Graded Book
The Marquis of Lorne 		MMM 2
Pink Roses Two by Two		Ligtmans

Follow Me Home 			RSCDS Bk 38
Light on the Water 		Let's All Dance
Da Rain Dancin'			Whiteadder Collection

Haste to the Wedding 		RSCDS Bk 25
Mint Truffles 			Just Desserts
The Barmkin 			Second Graded Book

Lady Catherine Bruce's 		Reel Graded Book
The Enchanted Garden 		World Around the Corner
MAB of McLeod 			Just Desserts

It's All Right 			Second Graded Book
Autumn in Appin 		RSCDS Bk 31
Reel of the Royal Scots 	RSCDS Leaflet 27

The Oslo Waltz
  
September 14 - 16th, 2012: Ft. Worden, Evergreen
Save The Date!
Fort Worden State Park on the Olympic Peninsula
Musicians: Elke Baker (Ellicott City, MD) fiddle ~ Lisa Scott (Portland, OR) piano ~ Ginny Snowe (Bellingham, WA) bass
Teachers: Linda Henderson (Alamo, CA) ~ Muriel Johnstone (Berwick, Scotland) ~ Gordon Robinson (Victoria, BC) ~ Ron Wallace (Santa Rosa, CA)

Watch for your Fort Worden application in the mail in April or check the Seattle RSCDS website at http://www.rscds-seattle.org for a downloadable application.

Dancing is wonderful training for girls, it's the first way you learn to guess what a man is going to do before he does it. ~ Christopher Morley, Kitty Foyle




  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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