|Volume 32 #6||May/June 2016|
Greetings fellow dancers!
The Dinner Dance has come and gone, and was a great success. (Except that no one came to the Sunday Hike, which was fine, because it was cold, windy, and rainy.) Now it’s time to focus for a little while on our dancing, and not just prepare dances for the dance floor.
In the near future, May 15th to be exact – ice cream at 1:30pm, meeting at 2:00 – we will have our Annual General Meeting where we will elect officers for the next dancing year. Please make every effort to attend – this is your Branch, and while the executive is pleased that members are happy, we do need a certain amount of participation in order to conduct business. This is a great time to renew your membership (changes to membership categories are in the works this year, too!) and your commitment. This year we will be luring you to the meeting with ice cream before and dancing after! It should actually be a lot of fun. (For our remote members way out in Idaho and central Oregon, you should at least have a little ice cream on Sunday, May 15th and think of us ?.)
Classes will be winding down between the end of May and the end of June, but there always seem to be plenty of opportunities to dance during the summer as well. For one, Layne’s sun room is ready for its debut, so watch for an invitation to his annual dance class wrap up party. Watch for calls for dancers for demonstrations – these are usually fun events, can be tailored to include even beginning dancers, and help us publicize Scottish Country Dancing in our area. The date for the SwWaS Branch Picnic has not been set, but it is usually the Sunday after July 4th, so keep an eye open for that as well. The Portland Branch usually plans a picnic, too, and it is fun to do some cross-branch socializing.
Speaking of which, socializing is an important part of keeping our branch strong. If you have an idea for an activity that your fellow dancers might be interested in, please don’t hesitate to publicize it. You can get help publicizing your event from any executive officer. For example, we might try that Sunday Hike again, once the better weather settles in.
There’s always something to look forward to!
For the last three years, my dad, Barclay Gibson, and I have taken a three to four-day road trip through central and eastern Texas. It started as a wildflower tour and a chance for us to do something together, but this year the trip had a more historical/documentary bent. Dad has a vast knowledge of the state, evidenced whenever some hapless resident asks him where a certain town is; the answer is usually followed by the name of the county, county seat, and cemetery location. For the past few years he has spent many hours on the road documenting the centennial granite markers that dot the state. These were erected in 1936 to celebrate the state's centennial, courthouses, churches, jails, depots, and cemeteries. He's met a lot of people along the way and even led a few groups to various sites they didn't know existed even though they lived nearby.
This year he had numerous abandoned churches and schools he wanted to find and photograph in a number of small, isolated towns. Now, that sounds relatively easy, but let me add that many of these old churches and schools are located on county roads, dirt roads, and overgrown roads, not to mention bumpy roads. There was also no one route to take that would include all of them. As we criss-crossed through counties and around towns (I saw the sign for Crockett, Texas at least five times but never did see the town), I realized this was very much like the old Westerns where the hero keeps riding past the same rock. As we went by a barn I had photographed two days before, I knew exactly how that old cowboy felt. To be fair, every so often I'd yell for dad to stop the car because I'd seen something I had to get a picture of. He'd slam on the brakes, pull over, and I would run down the road and over to whatever scene had caught my eye. We had beautiful weather each day, with dramatic spring skies of dark clouds illuminated by the sun and set off by the bright green below.
Anyone who has not visited Texas probably envisions a mix of images from Western movies, Pace picante sauce commercials, and anything else stark and dusty in nature. In fact, a wide expanse of dirt, scrub, and tumble weeds likely comes to mind. True, that landscape does exist, but so does the landscape of winding roads over grass-covered hills disappearing into thick forests of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush dotting the roadsides and nearby fields as well as huge wisteria draped over wooden fencing. In fact, while driving through north central Texas, I had to keep reminding myself I wasn't in Oregon anymore.
After three days of old buildings and back roads, we headed for Dallas, stopping every now and then for the bluebonnets. After getting oriented to Dallas and its traffic (which is not nearly as bad as Portland’s), we went to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. This wasn’t quite Dad’s thing so he good naturedly read for about three hours while I swarmed around the gardens. The azaleas, rhododendrons, delphiniums, impatiens, and about every other spring flower you can think of were on full display. Just combine the Portland Japanese Garden, Lan Su Chinese Garden, and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, and you'll have a good idea of what it was like. There were also numerous water features, which meant using a nearby sign and my handy rice “beanbag” as a makeshift tripod in order to slow the exposure time down to give the water a smooth texture. I had my excuse all ready in case an employee asked what I was doing with their sign.
Then we met my aunt and cousin for dinner (and our third night of Mexican food) and enjoyed catching up with them. The next day I spent some time in a nearby park enjoying the sunshine and heavy smell of honeysuckle before heading to the airport and back to real life. Of course, all us Scottish Country Dancers know that reel life is really pretty good.
Note from the author: Lest anyone who happens to read this thinks I have a very strange idea of what is Celtic in nature (although there are cities named Edinburg and Dublin in Texas) submitting an article to the newsletter on a Texas road trip was not my idea.
Martin and I have been Scottish Country dancing for about 14 years now! It has been a challenging, fun and interesting time! We’ve made many friends from all over the world as they have come, and unfortunately, gone over the years. Martin and I have recently been talking about how fantastic and amazing it is to have connected with the wonderful people from Portland, Oregon and Southwest Washington. Fred & Marge van Nus, and their daughter, Geri Stuart, worked and danced (well) together to share their joy and dream with as many as possible in SW Washington. Years before we caught the SCD bug, we first saw and enjoyed their dancing at the Pomeroy Farm in Yacolt, WA. Don Gertz worked long at keeping the dream alive in the Portland, Oregon metro area. We first saw and enjoyed their demo team at a Scottish Heritage Festival in Salem, Oregon.
We found their enthusiasm contagious, and addictive. We, especially Martin, in the beginning, danced every occasion we heard about, and Martin was on the performance teams of both Portland and SWWA. After a while, Martin decided he couldn’t be on both teams, and stayed with the SWWA team. They were a close-knit group and enjoyed their many demonstration opportunities. After a while, just like regular families, thanks to the support, direction, and experience of Fred, Marge and Geri, people such as Liza Halpenny, Linda Mae Dennis and John Shaw decided to pursue SCD teacher certification. It was a “tough row to hoe”, and the ones who are teaching classes locally are: Geri Stuart at the Marshall Center on Wednesdays, Linda Mae Dennis at Burlingame Grange, Portland, OR, some Mondays and the Columbia Dance Center every other Tuesday and some Fridays. Liza teaches at the Orchard’s YMCA on Thursdays. Another person who has danced (and played Scottish music) in the van Nus orbit is Lisa Scott who teaches every other Tuesday at the Columbia Dance Center. They all fill niches on their particular days and venues. Because we want to help keep SCD alive, we attend as many classes as is feasible in a given week, though we certainly can't attend them all.
As we all know, Scottish dancing is a good physical, mental and social exercise…so let's dance already!
We were swept away by "A Little Night Music" at our 7th annual Southwest Washington State Branch Dinner Dance. David Knight on fiddle, and Andy Imbrie and Sherryl Fawx (of Reel of Seven) on keyboard and recorder, masterfully and magically rendered the "seven"-themed dance program devised by Linda Mae Dennis.
Dance chair, Linda Lindley, used her organizational superpowers to orchestrate the event, which included music-themed decorations, a delicious meal by Harvest Moon catering, Jennifer Pratt-Walter on harp, the piping skills of Sydney Thomas and Patrick Hogan, MC expertise by Marge van Nus, dance briefing by Linda Mae and Liza Halpenny, sumptuous desserts by many donors, and of course hours of fantastic dancing. Many thanks for the many helping hands before and throughout the evening.
The after party at Linda Mae’s and Patrick’s house provided a cozy space for conversation, delectable snacks, liquid spirits, spontaneous music from Andy and David, and more dancing (by those whose feet were not done for the night) – an impressive offering of Cape Breton, Irish, tap, and even Charleston. Scottish Country dancers, we just never run out of fun.
If you wish to enjoy some photos of this wonderful event, please navigate your web browser to:
Liza and Tom Halpenny attended their first Heather and Rose Spring Ball Weekend at The Grove in Ashland Oregon on April 2, for a lively combination of Scottish and English Country Dance to the music of Lisa Scott and Betsy Branch. Callers Brooke Friendly and Chris Sackett guided dancers through the Ball program, and hosted an Open-Mic dance on Sunday at a nearby dance studio.
We had a pleasant drive south through the beautiful Oregon scenery on Friday, while another group of Scottish dancers were headed north for another dance event in Victoria B.C. We coincidentally met Susan and Max Leek and Anne Muller at a rest stop as they were headed for our same destination, in order to attend a dance party that evening, with music played by the ball musicians. We stayed the weekend with Liza's sister Connie and partner Don, and instead attended a dinner and play in Ashland, with a stroll through beautiful Lithia Park.
We arrived at the dance venue for a Saturday morning workshop on the dances of Brooke Friendly and Chris Sackett, just published in their fifth Impropriety volume of dances, with music also played by the ball musicians. An afternoon ball review of many of the thirteen English dances and seven Scottish dances followed. We enjoyed becoming acquainted with new and regular dancers whom we have met at other Heather and Rose events.
Dancers dressed up and returned to the venue for the evening ball. We were pleased to meet Fran and Herb Petschek, who used to Scottish dance in Vancouver in the 1990's before moving
to Ashland (Herb chaired the Vancouver-USA SCD group 1990-1992 and Fran was secretary 1988-1990), and annually visited our Dinner Dance for several years. Here is a sample video of the variety of English and Scottish
Country Dance with Lisa and Betsy's music.
On Sunday morning, our lodging hosts took us on a delightful drive for breakfast and trail walk into the nearby mountains. After returning to Ashland, we attended the Sunday afteroon Open-Mic dance, where Liza introduced dancers to two newer dances that were devised by Tom and Liza. We departed Ashland 4:00pm and arrived home 9:00pm.
Heather and Rose Country Dancers is a network of three dance groups who run dance classes and events in Ashland, Roseburg, and Eugene, as well as a June summer camp at Suttle Lake. We have now visited all of the dance groups and very much enjoyed making new friends. We can visit the website at http://heatherandrose.org/ for more information about Heather and Rose activities. The annual Suttle Lake Dance Camp Weekend will run June 3-5, 2016, and will once again feature musicians Lisa Scott and Betsy Branch who will be joined by Erik Weberg and Bill Tomczak.
A team of Scottish dancers visited the high tech Cognex company April 13 in Tigard to introduce twenty engineers to the pleasures of Scottish Dance. Linda Mae Dennis led the 90-minute session, assisted by Patrick Hogan, Liza and Tom Halpenny, Susan and John Shaw, Holly Gibson, Janice Taylor, and Martin MacKenzie.
John, who arranged the demo, has been telling us about the culture of his workplace of 55 employees, with an official position titled "Minister of Culture" to promote team activities. So I was interested to observe how the participants socially interacted with the dancers and received the message of benefits of Scottish dance.
The activity was held in a common area where chairs had been set up, surrounded by two-person offices. Participating employees filled the rear seats as they arrived. John introduced the group, and leader Linda Mae welcomed everyone and motioned the audience onto the floor to immediately begin dancing. We began with "Loon Mountain Reel" and "Oxtail Soup" that tell a story in order to help dancers recall the figures.
The attentive audience of engineers quickly learned as they practiced the basic figures. They were nervous at first, but Linda Mae's friendly teaching style helped everyone gradually become more relaxed as the dancing proceeded.
The new dancers learned three additional dances with more new figures like Figure of Eight and Petronella. They then watched the experienced Scottish dancers demonstrate four dances with interesting figures and emotionally engaging music: "Folksy Fivesome", "Cranberry Tart", "Linnea's Strathspey", and "Da Rain Dancin'". The audience observed how athletic the dancing can be, and the dancer team having fun dancing together. A third of the audience withdrew to their offices for the second half where they continued to listen to the music coming from the common area.
Linda Mae observed the mathematical beauty of the figures, using terminology that resonated with the engineers, and had dancers demonstrate how Figure of Eight is related to Reel of Three.
A Cognex manager thanked the dancers for coming. He appreciated the opportunity for his group to learn about Scottish dance and for some new ideas to think about. He observed that having the audience first get a feel for the dancing helped generate interest to observe and better understand the demonstration dances.
Addendum from John Shaw: For days afterwards, I was stopped in the halls and break rooms by colleagues who expressed their surprise and delight with all the fun they had at the "Scottish Dance fitness" event. Several specifically mentioned the benefit of getting to "play" with some simple dances themselves first, then with a little explicit explanation from Linda Mae showing how a figure of eight can be turned into a simple reel of three, getting to observe and really appreciate the more complex forms of the same figures in the dances we danced for them, like, for example, in Cranberry Tart, with the tandem reels of three followed by the mirror reels on the side.
Unusually, we danced our demo dances through the full eight times, and the observers told me how they could discern, not only the various forms of the figures they had danced, but the different styles and energy levels of each of the dancers (for example, one had an injury and could only walk). They really liked how the various approaches interacted and gave variety to the dance, and just added to the fun.
Everyone enjoyed themselves -- a very successful event!
When I sat down to write this piece, I thought, "Easy, all I have to do is describe may favorite part of the trip. That's all." The problem, however, is that there were so many favorite parts to the trip.
The "trip" I'm talking about occurred the first weekend in April, to attend the workshop and Ball in Victoria, B.C.. A big draw for many of us was that Linda Mae Dennis was one of the featured teachers at the workshop. Add to that the fun of several hours' driving in the company of good friends, the romance of a sea voyage (the ferry ride from Port Angeles to Victoria), the charm of a century old Bed and Breakfast, and the beauty and friendliness of Victoria itself -- see what I mean? There was just so much to enjoy, and I haven't even started on the music and dancing yet!
Altogether, nine dancers drove up from the Portland/Vancouver area. Actually, we weren't "altogether", as we journeyed in two cars. There were five in our car (not counting the crossword puzzles): Sally Palmer, Holly Gibson, Janice Taylor, and Susan and John Shaw; while Layne Russell, Casey Fisher, Linda Mae Dennis, and Patrick Hogan were in the other vehicle. I don't know what they did in their car, since we had all the crossword puzzles.
We rendevouzed in Port Angeles in good time, ditched the cars in random spots near the ferry terminal, meandered around to find a very nice lunch spot -- the chowder was another one of my favorite parts -- and then snaked our way through the long lines to walk onto the ferry. It was a beautiful day, sunny, clear, and calm, so it was easy to appreciate the magic, first, of Port Angeles slowly getting smaller in the mist astern, and then of Victoria slowly growing bigger and clearer ahead.
The Bed and Breakfast where most of us stayed was a few blocks up from the ferry terminal. Settling in, we had fun inspecting the antique character of the different bedrooms, the wallpaper, the creaking of the curved staircase, and the view from the balcony off the one upstairs bathroom. Yet, one of the pleasantest delights was to sit down with our fellow travelers in the dining room over an elegant breakfast and hear each others' stories. And we got to do that two mornings in a row!
The B & B was very strategically located, almost in the geographic center of the three venues reserved for the workshops and Ball -- I don't think any of the venues were more 3 or 4 blocks in any direction from our lodgings. So, after a very pleasant morning stroll through tidy neighborhoods in separate directions, we all arrived at our workshops.
The beginner workshop was held at Church of Truth, a cozy neighborhood church in the opposite direction from the White Eagle Hall, the location of the intermediate workshop. As I attended the latter, I cannot say much about the former without making up a lot of stuff, and this article's going to be long enough as it is. Anyway, the intermediate workshop got started a little later than planned due to a minor (ok, major) issue with the floor, which was resolved very nicely by relocating the workshop to the Edelweiss Hall (where the Ball was to take place later). Walking (again!) through pretty and tidy neighborhoods was our warmup, and another of my favorite parts.
Linda Mae Dennis and Louise McGillivray were the teachers for the day, and they kept us moving briskly, and with good humor -- after all, it is just dance! Louise started us with an enthusiastic but tricky can can that made rank beginners of us all; and Linda Mae kept us in smiles, emphasizing social eye contact and elegant upright form as she guided us on a tour of tournée dances.
The catered banquet (salmon and roast beef) was a delight. We sat at tables with assigned seats, which gave us an opportunity to introduce ourselves to even more new friends, as we put new faces to the names on the cards on the table.
Just as we were about to start the buffet, the club Chair got up for some acknowledgments, and told a most amazing story [as I recall the telling] about how the planning for this weekend's events came about. The club apparently hadn't done such an event in several years, and some folks were starting to think maybe they could put on a Ball in a couple of years, if they started thinking about it now. Then, Ned Easton began exploring the issue, and concluded that they could/would do it this year. "But not a workshop or a dinner", they said. Ned explored some more and concluded, "Yes, a workshop, too!" And later, "Yes, the dinner, too!" Ned went around to all the beginner classes -- the club holds classes almost every night of the week -- and lined up enthusiastic folks for all the different tasks. And it turned out marvelously!
I remember the Ball as a whirl of dancing and music and partners which made the night fly by. The music was provided by The Tartan Players, with keyboard, flute, and, if memory serves, two fiddles. Their reels were as brisk at the end of the evening as they were at the beginning, which might not have been quite so true of some of us dancers. All too soon, the evening was over with a waltz, warm goodbyes to many dancing friends, and a warmdown walk back through the balmy night and quiet neighborhood to the B & B.
Before, between, and after the events there was time for wandering around the streets and parks of Victoria; for getting fish and chips or "salmon on a stick" at a fabulous Food Cart; and lounging on a pier watching a very busy sea otter browsing the shoreline for snacks (an otter can make noshing look like such fun!)
That was our roadtrip to Victoria. Truly, such a good time was had by all -- have Ghillies, will travel!
RSCDS Chairman-Elect Helen Russell was recently interviewed by Louise White on The Kaye Adams BBC-Radio-Scotland programme, in order to promote teaching Scottish Country dancing to children in schools. Helen was joined by 20-year-old Caitlin Beattie to give listeners a sense of what Scottish dance is like. We can listen to the interview at http://www.rscds-swws.org/news/stories/HelenRussell-Interview.mp3
Scotland school physical education teachers used to teach Scottish dance, however a teaching skills shortage developed when teacher training priorities shifted to other sports. RSCDS is addressing the teacher training gap with a Continuing Professional Development training program, and two multimedia packs titled "Jigs & Reels" for primary and "Dance Trad" for secondary school teachers.
Scottish Country Dancing is related to ceilidh dancing with similar music. Caitlin Beattie related her fun experience with Scottish dance PE lessons to "have a laugh," that is part of her Scottish culture.
The Society has interested 91 schools in the Aberdeen area to participate in an accreditation program, assisted by Scottish dance teachers and volunteers, and would like to see the program rolled out further thoughout Scotland.
The Branch expanded its 2016 Dinner Dance program briefs with three methods to remind dancers of the dance choreography.
Minicribs with textual directions: http://www.rscds-swws.org/2016-dinnerdance-cribs.pdf Dance diagrams by Keith Rose with their spatially visual quality: http://www.rscds-swws.org/2016-dinnerdance-diagrams.pdf DancieMaetion videos display the movement of dancers while narrating: http://www.rscds-swws.org/2016-dinnerdance-danciemaetions.htm
The third method came online shortly before the dance, so a few dancers were able to benefit this year. DancieMaetion creator Patrick Hogan suggested that the Branch generate its own playlist of dance programs which are DancieMaetion videos with animated moving figures accompanied by narration. I discovered we can easily generate a single web page using the YouTube embedded video technology to simultaneously display and intuitively navigate all fifteen dance videos in program order. For example, we can independently play the two excerpts below from the dance program, or we can access the DancieMaetion videos web page for the full effect.
4. Best Set in the Hall - J 32 3/4L
15. The Reel of the Royal Scots - R 32 3/4L
The Branch is fortunate to have Linda Mae's and Patrick's dedication to generate DancieMaetion dance videos. They have produced 291 videos to date over the past five years with over 195,000 views on YouTube from around the world.
Calendar of Events