The Scottish Country Dancer
Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Southwest Washington State Branch
Volume 31 #1
July/August 2014

Articles in This Issue

Mirroring Our Opposite Square Dancer

by Tom Halpenny

As we have a number of square set dances I thought it might be interesting to hear the perspective of one of our members who both does Square and Scottish Dancing ~ The Editor

We square dancers are happily traveling the mainstream and plus moves when we occasionally become disoriented and are challenged to move to the correct position. We can watch our "opposite" dancer for clues to a successful recovery, and we can also improve the symmetry of the square dance patterns.

Square dance moves have an elegant symmetry. Each dancer has an "opposite" dancer who is always diagonally across the square. We can imagine a line segment that connects each dancer with their opposite. The midpoint of the line segment always coincides with the center of the square as dancers travel the moves. We meet our opposite whenever we travel to the center of the square.

After the square has formed, I begin watching my opposite person diagonally across the square. As we dance the moves, I observe my opposite's position when I am facing his direction and adjust my movement in order to maintain the midpoint of our line segment in the center of the square. If all dancers in a square were to mirror their opposite, the symmetric appearance of the patterns would improve. Eye contact helps each pair of opposites mirror each other. When a disorienting moment arises, our opposite's position can guide us to move to the correct position, if practical. Our opposite sometimes moves to an incorrect position and, if the square remains stable, we might have a new opposite whom we mirror until dancers return home and correct their positions.

The Taminations website is an excellent resource to review animations of square dance moves from various starting formations: We can click a group of moves from the menu and select a move of interest, and we can observe the relative positions of opposites in animations that show all eight dancers in the square.


The Ceilidh

by Marge MacLeod van Nus

The traditional Gaelic Social Gathering, or House Party, is frequently referred to as a Ceilidh (Kay-lee), "a visit". Ceilidhs may include folk music and singing, traditional dancing, storytelling, poetry, readings, step dancing, skits and jokes; a casual do-it-yourself form of entertainment within the local community.

We have a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the traditional dance portion of a Ceilidh Saturday, July 19, at the Portland Highland Games. The Fiddle Judge, John Taylor and keyboardist, Lisa Scott, are playing for an informal Ceilidh Dance at 4:00 pm, on the upper (North) field, after the Highland Dance competitions conclude. This is a socially inclusive function, all ages are welcome---novice to experienced alike.

All are invited to come join in, take advantage of this unique opportunity to meet and great old and new friends. All dances will be taught and called by Marge Mcleod van Nus (whose Grandparents' home was known as "the party house")

The Portland Games are held every year at Mount Hood Community College on the third Saturday of July. The main entrance to the Games is at the South end of the campus where the gym is located.

The 2014-2015 Slate of Officers

by Martin MacKenzie

In brief, here is the 2014-2015 slate of officers for the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Southwest Washington State Branch:

Chair - John Shaw
Vice Chair - Theresa Ryan
Treasurer - Susan Shaw
Secretary - Tom Halpenny

We are all thankful for their hard work and we should do everything we can to support their efforts this coming dance year.

All interested parties can access the minutes of the 2014 Annual General Meeting here:

About Rosemary

by Rosemary Armour

Rosemary has been dancing with us for several years though was absent for a while. Here's her story. ~ The Editor

Originally from Scotland, I came to the United States in 1993 with my 7-year-old daughter, Debbie. We first landed in Monterey, California, where we stayed for about 9 months. Thereafter, we moved to the Pacific Northwest, where we have been ever since.

I grew up in a small town called Kinross. Mary Queen of Scots actually escaped from Loch Leven Castle, in Kinross, in 1568, and was forced to abdicate as queen before escaping with the help of her gaoler's family. In 1588, the Queen's gaoler inherited the title Earl of Morton, and moved away from the castle. It was purchased in 1675 by Sir William Bruce, who used the castle as a focal point in his garden; it was never again used as a residence. Thought you would enjoy that little bit of history from where I grew up!

I have worked with both state and federal government for the last 14 years. In late 2013, I felt the desire to change my career and try something new. My daughter, who has a successful business as an agent with Farmers Insurance, encouraged me to become an agent as well. Familiar with my strengths and strong work ethic, she thought I would make a great agent. In early 2014, I decided to take the leap and took the state exams to become an agent. I am now licensed in both Washington and Oregon, selling auto, home, renters, life, recreation vehicles and commercial insurance, for Farmers.

I would be happy to run a quote for anyone interested! My number is 360-989-4884, and my email address is

Suttle Lake Dance Camp

by Tom Halpenny

Liza and Tom Halpenny attended their first English and Scottish Dance Camp Weekend June 6-8 2014 at the Suttle Lake camp near Sisters Oregon, hosted for the 25th year by the Heather and the Rose Country Dancers. Liza taught the Scottish country dance workshop, while Sharon Green from Berkeley California taught the English country dance workshop. Musicians for the weekend were Betsy Branch (fiddle), Leslie Hirsch (fiddle), Lisa Scott (piano), and Seth Goldman (bassoon).

We arrived 4:30pm after a leisurely drive, with a side visit to Silver Falls State Park for a 1-hour hike that took us underneath the falls. We settled into our room among the beautiful surroundings of tall trees and met our fellow dancers numbering about 45. We recognized several friends from other Scottish dance events and new friends we met on our January visit to the Roseburg Midwinter Party.

The weekend was a great way to get to know everyone within the lodge where we danced and ate. Tables were set up for meals and taken down for dancing. Delicious, healthful meals were prepared by revered chef, Annie. The Friday evening dance welcomed everyone with a sample of dancing to the fantastic music. I finished the day with 25,000 pedometer steps. (A typical SCD day is 15,000 steps.) Saturday was a full day of dance workshops, and we briefly rested up for the high-energy evening ball. The intermission featured Alixe Dancer's famous berry cobbler and ice cream. I finished the day with 29,000 pedometer steps. Sunday morning featured a review of the favorite dances of the weekend. We said our goodbyes to friends and fit in a side trip to nearby lava formations, and drove home, finishing the day with 19,000 pedometer steps and pleasant memories with dance friends in the beautiful setting.

We can visit the Heather and Rose website to learn about their program H & R is a statewide network of dance groups in Oregon which teach both English and Scottish Country Dance and use global terminology for teaching. The Eugene group hosts a Harvest Ball, the Roseburg group hosts a Midwinter Party, and the Ashland group hosts the Spring Ball. The groups dance two-thirds English and one-third Scottish dances.

Global terminology refers to a dancer's position within the dance rather than gender. The "men's side" is called "left file" and the "ladies' side" is called "right file". Dancers form sets by lining up individually on either file, and whoever appears on the opposite file is their partner. We can also line up with a partner, with a little jockeying for position as single dancers form in front. I found the practice refreshing and efficient. It didn't matter whether I knew anyone. My dance partner appeared and could be either gender. I enjoyed the variety of forming sets on the right file and dancing familiar Scottish dances from the unfamiliar side. I can imagine how the practice can help one improve their dancing skills.

A quality I liked about Heather and Rose is their interest to dance both English and Scottish dance, which I have discovered can be a rare quality among folk dancers to dance more than a single dance form. I was able to add Donna to my list of Dauntless Dancers, friends who have danced three folk dance forms with me one time. I had met Donna at a Contra dance last December.

If You Can Follow Code, You Can Dance!

by Tom Halpenny

I was fortunate to be part of the dance team who helped Darrick Wong present Scottish country dance at the Open Source Bridge conference June 26 2014. We can read the abstract of the presentation . Aided by ten dancers, including three teachers and a fiddler, Darrick demonstrated four Scottish dances and described how the figures of a dance flow sequentially like a computer program, and how the testing of a new dance is similar to testing a new computer program for correct operation. My fellow dancers smoothly traveled the figures to the fiddle tunes of Maggie Hannahs.

I was curious who would attend Darrick's innovative presentation? All six audience members enthusiastically accepted the invitation for the final "Loon Mountain Reel" dance with six-couples. I had previously met Sonia at an International folk dance, and she also writes computer programs. The room's fifty seats filled for the next conference session. So I was able to deduce the general aversion that engineers have for dancing.

This reminds me of my experience with fellow Hewlett Packard engineers. Liza taught a weekly lunchtime SCD class at HP, with John Shaw and myself as support members. A surprising result was that the majority of these supposedly creative engineers lacked the curiosity to walk 100 feet to a conference room to try something new. The negative response is an example where people are psychologically blocked from exploring, so therefore there is probably a rich set of discoveries to be made. We can read the newsletter item "Scottish Country Dance Comes to Hewlett Packard"

Thanks to Darrick Wong, Don Gertz, Linda Gertz, Maureen Sloan, Linda Mae Dennis, Patrick Hogan, Liza Halpenny, Tom Halpenny, Janice Taylor, Maggie Faber, and Maggie Hannahs, for teaming up for such an unusual venue Scottish dancing.

News From RSCDS

by Tom Halpenny

RSCDS Book 49 Evaluation:

The Southwest Washington State Branch completed a series of four dance classes to evaluate six candidate dances for the RSCDS Book 49. Headquarters reported that 74 branches submitted a dance, and over 100 branches were willing to evaluate the dances. You might recall that our branch had submitted "Scatter Creek" by Marge van Nus last December. The Branch teachers taught three dances each week for two weeks. Dancers evaluated the same dances during another round of two weeks, so everyone had the opportunity to try the dances twice. We have submitted the results to HQ four months before the deadline. Each submitted dance will theoretically be evaluated by seven branches. I personally enjoyed evaluating the high quality dances that were all branch-selected submissions.

Calendar of Events

July 13: RSCDS SwWaState Branch Sumptuous Summer Picnic
Fairgrounds Community Park (near the Clark County Fairgrounds)
216 NW 164th St., Ridgefield, WA
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Show up Noon-ish
Lunch at 1:00pm
Dancing after lunch

Bring your family, a main dish for yourself, a dish to share, your own tableware
(plate, cup, spork, cloth napkin), games (croquet, bocce ball, frisbee, etc.)
We provide water
We'll probably go for a walk in the woods
For information contact Linda Mae at 360-609-0623 or
July 18-19: Portland Highland Games and Ceilidh
The Games will be held Friday and Saturday, at Mt Hood Community College in Gresham, OR. See their website for more information:

At 4 pm on Saturday the 19th, there will a "Traditional and Informal" Ceilidh Dance! John Taylor (fiddle) and Lisa Scott (keyboard) will provide the music, and Marge Mcleod van Nus will be the caller.
All are welcome -- all ages, and novice to experienced alike.
August 2: Clark County Fair Demonstration
Clark County Fair performance
5:00 to 5:45pm led by Liza
Rehearsal information will be disbursed by e-mail
If interested, please contact Liza by phone at 360-798-3388 or by email at
August 26: Fourth Tuesday Mixer
Fourth Tuesday Mixer, Columbia Dance Center 7:30pm,
Will be led by area teachers,
Bring friends to "try it out!!"
Location: Columbia Dance Center, 1700 Broadway, Vancouver, WA
September 4: Naydenov Gymnastics SCD
At Naydenov Gymnastics,
5313 NE 94th Ave, Vancouver, WA
Scottish Country Dance, Thursday 8-9:15pm, upstairs dance room, $5 at the door
Contact Liza by phone at 360-798-3388 or by email at
No registration required.
September 16: Classic Dances Class
Columbia Dance Center, 1700 Broadway, Vancouver, WA
1st and 3rd Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00 p.m., $5 at the door
Contact Linda Mae Dennis,
Class may sometimes be preempted, watch for emails.
September 9: Exploring Devisors' Dances
Columbia Dance Center, 1700 Broadway, Vancouver, WA
2nd and 4th Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00 p.m., $5 at the door
Contact Marge, 360-892-4366,

Must have completed a basic SCD class.
September 10: Scottish Country Dance for Everyone
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver, WA
Vancouver-Clark Parks & Recreation 360-487-7100
The catalog can be viewed at
Wednesday 7:30-9:00pm, Elm Room, 8 wks, starts 9/10
Contact LindaMae,
Sept 12-14: Ft. Worden Ruby, Workshop and Ball
RSCDS Seattle's 40th annual weekend workshop and Ball.
Calum MacKinnon (Edmonds, WA), fiddle; Laura Risk (Montreal, QC), fiddle;
Ginny Snowe (Bellingham, WA), bass; Lisa Scott (Portland, OR), piano.
Avril Quarrie (Ségny, France); David Quarrie (Ségny, France);
Lin Pettengill (Half Moon Bay, CA); Tim Wilson (San Francisco, CA).

Watch for the Fort Worden application in the mail in April, or check their website for a downloadable application:
September 13 - 14: Kelso Highlander Festival
FREE Admission - Don't pass up a whole weekend of Scottish and Celtic fun at the park!
For more details, please visit
September 19: Fairview Community Center SCD
300 Harrison St., Fairview, OR
Scottish Country Dance, Most Fridays 7:00-8:45 pm,
Contact LindaMae at for details.
Sept 30: Fifth Tuesday Mixer
Columbia Dance Center, 7:30 pm.
Oct 25: SWWS Fall Dance
Columbia Dance Center, 1700 Broadway, Vancouver, WA. 7:30 pm.
Musicians: Cynthia Soohoo and Nathaniel Soohoo-Hui
Hooper’s Jig 32 J 3C MMM II
Delvine Side 32 S C RSCDS Book 2.9
Round Reel of Eight 88 R Sq. set RSCDS Book 27.7
Ladies’ Fancy 32 J 2C RSCDS Book 13.12
Silver Tassie 32 S 3C Leaflet
Maxwell’s Rant 32 R 3C RSCDS Book 18.10
Postie’s Jig 32 J 4C set Omskirk Scottish Country Dance Bk. 5
Rakes of Glasgow 32 S 3C RSCDS Book 11.11
Capt. MacDonald’s Fancy 32 R 3C RSCDS Book 7.9
Machine without Horses 32 J 3C RSCDS Book 12.12
MacDonald of the Isles 32 S 3C set Haynes
Sleepy Maggie 32 R 3C RSCDS Book 11.5
  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.

Generated Wednesday July 02, 2014