The Scottish Country Dancer
Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Southwest Washington State Branch
Volume 31 #6
May/June 2015

Articles in This Issue

St. Patrickís Day Demo

by Geri Stuart

On March 17th a group of our dancers went to the Van Mall Retirement Center, put on dancing shoes for dancing in between bits of St. Patrick's life story to help the surrounding audience, on three sides, visualize the adventure. Sitting in a butterfly filled meadow, being in a forest, walking 200 miles over the heather, on a sailing ship, preaching and building churches, death and celebration were described in words accompanying appropriately themed dance. We also had the audience participate in our last dance.

In addition to the Branch receiving payment, each dancer enjoyed selecting meals from delicious menu selections in the restaurant style dining hall. What a treat! Thanks and kudos to everyone who participated!

Southwest Washington State Branch Dance E-books

by Tom Halpenny

With the goal to improve the awareness for five historical RSCDS Southwest Washington State Branch dance books and promote dances to be danced more widely, we can visit the Branch's "Dance Books and Items of Interest" web page to access e-book pdf files.

Visitors may download e-books, for an optional donation with PayPal, or may contact the branch Treasurer by email 
in order to purchase available printed dance books.

The Princess Bride Collection - 2013
Just Desserts - 2010
An International Language - 2009
A Feast of Dances - 1995
A Collection for the Washington State Centennial - 1988

We have also updated the Strathspey Scottish Country Dance Data Base so the existing dance publication web pages reference the e-book pdf files.

We hope you will enjoy visiting the web page and accessing the Branch's dance e-books.

A Quick Guide For Basic Dancers

by Marge MacLeod Van Nus

Here are some items new dancers should know to help them answer the question, "Am I now an Intermediate Dancer?

STEPS: Skip change of step, slip step, pas de basque, strathspey traveling step, common schottische or as more commonly known, strathspey setting step.

FORMATIONS: hands across; hands round; lead down the middle and up; cast up/down; turn 2 and 4 bars, 1 and 2 hands; advance and retire; back to back; grand chain; ladies' chain; rights and lefts; balance in line; promenade for two and three couples; petronella turn; quick time poussette; reels of three, all directions, right/left shoulder; set to corners; set to and turn corners (and followed by a reel of three); turn corners and partner; reels of four; set and link for two couples.

MUSIC: be aware of the difference between a jig and a reel, i.e. both are "quick time"; be aware of the strathspey beat in relation to the step; be aware of the dance phrasing relative to the musical phrasing.

Note---other more intermediate/advanced formations may have been learned during the first year of dancing to prepare for upcoming dance programs. Your teachers will guide you to the dances on any program they know you can enjoy.

The Spring Fling Reel

by Tom Halpenny

The RSCDS Spring Fling 2015 weekend attracted 80 dancers age 12-35 in London UK, April 17-19. The event is similar to Youth Weekend West here on the west coast.

The "Spring Fling Reel" dance was announced, devised by Samantha Burton from London, as the winning dance of a competition that received 46 submitted dances. Our branch youth dancers trialled six dances as part of the evaluation process. We can view a video of the winning dance.


YMCA Healthy Kids Day

by Tom Halpenny

Scottish dance teachers Liza and Linda Mae introduced SCD to kids and parents at the April 25 YMCA Healthy Kids Day. Visitors viewed video clips of youth dancers, designed to show what SCD is like. Liza led a thirty-minute audience participation session in the gymnasium, and Maggie Hannahs treated the audience to live fiddle music.

Liza currently teaches a SCD class at the YMCA on Thursdays 7:30-9:00pm.


A Spring In Our Steps

by Tom Halpenny

Scottish dance friends gathered April 25 in the Clark County Square Dance Center for the 6th Annual Dinner Dance with theme "A Spring In Our Steps". Dancers enjoyed a delicious dinner, catered by Harvest Moon, while being serenaded by Jennifer Pratt-Walter's harp music. The grand march commenced with pipers Sydney Thomson and Patrick Hogan. Emcee Robert Stuart introduced musicians Lisa Scott, Betsy Branch, and Bill Tomczak, and the dance briefers Geri Stuart and Marge van Nus.

Marge devised the program, selected from early RSCDS books, with one dance from each of the first fifteen books. Lisa observed that the early book dances used to be popular when she began dancing, and were gradually displaced by modern dances. Ten of the fifteen dances of the program appear on the list of 500 most frequent dances worldwide. The Reel of the 51st Division, Book 13, rank number ten, was the first published modern dance, devised in 1943 in a German prisoner-of-war camp. We can view the video of The Montgomeries' Rant, rank number one, of energetic dancers moving to the music!

We can access the Facebook photo album at

Many thanks to Dinner Dance co-chairs Susan and John Shaw, sound man Patrick Hogan, decorations by Antonya Pickard, Van Meter Hord, and Linda Lindley, and Theresa Ryan for hosting the after-party.

You can dance again to the music of Lisa, Betsy, and Bill, and the famous SCD teacher Bruce Hamilton, at the Heather and Rose dance camp weekend, June 5-7, at Suttle Lake, OR.

Strategy to Recruit New Scottish Dancers

by Tom Halpenny

We Scottish dancers like to talk with friends about coming to the classes to try SCD, and we are puzzled why so few people are curious enough to try SCD one time? I visited a website that introduces books by the Heath Brothers and gives insight about two psychological blocks: "Curse of Knowledge" and "Speaking to the Rider instead of the Elephant". The book titled Made to Stick lists six principles that help us overcome the Curse of Knowledge, about how we can deliver ideas that are understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact.

The Tappers and Listeners experiment demonstrates the Curse of Knowledge. Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has "cursed" us. It becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we cannot readily re-create our listenerís state of mind. In the experiment, each tapper was asked to pick a song and tap out the rhythm to a listener, by knocking on a table. The listener's challenging job was to guess the song, based on the rhythm being tapped. Over the course of the experiment, 120 songs were tapped out. Listeners guessed only 2.5 percent of the songs: 3 out of 120. Before the listeners guessed the name of the song, tappers were asked to predict the odds that the listeners would guess correctly. They predicted that the odds were 50 percent. The tappers got their message across 1 time in 40, but they thought they were getting their message across 1 time in 2.

How does the Curse of Knowledge relate to recruiting new Scottish dancers? One example is the use of still photos for publicity, compared with a video. When we experienced dancers view a photo of a dancing set, we can imagine the movement and the beautiful music, while an inexperienced person can see the happy faces and the dancer clothing but totally miss the feeling of dancing.

This leads us to the second psychological block: Speaking to the Rider instead of the Elephant. According to another Heath Brothers book titled Switch - How to Change Things When Change is Hard, the human brain has a rational part (Rider) that can process language and analyze options and determine methods to accomplish goals, and an emotional part (Elephant) that communicates with feelings and significantly governs behavior.

Scottish dance leaders tend to be analytical and communicate in words, like engineers and librarians, while everyone relates to feelings. Messages to recruit new dancers focus on words that are received by the Rider. We need to design feeling messages that speak to the Elephant, since the elephant significantly controls behavior to try dancing. The rider becomes exhausted after trying to influence the elephant. The elephant is unable to relate to words. Better are messages that appeal to the senses. For example, a video that engages the viewer with dancers having fun moving to music is superior to still photos that show neither movement nor music. This relates to the Made to Stick principle of injecting emotions into a message in order to make the audience feel something.

I individually came up with a list of beneficial feelings that unifies the methods I have read or imagined to attract new dancers. I organized the feelings according to the familiar friendship, fun, and fitness categories, and assigned a Strength or priority/importance to the categories. I then wrote a document that describes my favorite tactics in some detail for increasing Scottish country dancers. SCD Leaders could similarly build their own list of feelings, and imagine methods to attract new dancers to the beneficial feelings of Scottish Country Dance.


Calendar of Events

May 1-3: Youth Weekend West
The next Youth Weekend will be May 1-3, 2015 in Victoria, BC, Canada. Registration for the workshop
has now closed. If you're planning on coming to the ball only, you can still pay at the door at the dance
on May 2nd. Cribs for the ceilidh and ball have also now been posted.
Navigate to for updates.
May 9: Portland Dance Party
Renaissance School of Arts and Sciences
0234 SW Bancroft Street
Portland, OR 97239
$6.00 at the door. 7:30pm
May 17: Annual General Meeting
The 2015 AGM for our Branch is set for 1:00pm on Sunday, May 17th, 2015,
at Columbia Dance Center, 1700 Broadway in Vancouver.
The Agenda is available here:
Preparatory to the meeting, perhaps you would like to review our current online membership information

Following the meeting, we plan to meander over to Ice Cream Renaissance.
June 5-7: English and Scottish Dance Camp Weekend
Location is at Suttle Lake camp near Sisters Oregon.
Bruce Hamilton is the teacher and caller.
Musicians are Betsy Branch, Lisa Scott, Erik Weberg, and Bill Tomczak.
Contact: Ann Muller at 541-852-9518,
Registration information and further detail are at
July 12: RSCDS SwWaState Branch Sumptuous Summer Picnic
Fairgrounds Community Park (near the Clark County Fairgrounds)
216 NW 164th St., Ridgefield, WA
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Show up Noon-ish
Lunch at 1:00pm
Dancing after lunch
July 18:
Portland Highland Games at Mt. Hood Community College.
Details to follow.
  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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