|Volume 35 #5||March/April 2019|
Many dancers have heard of John Drewry, a dancer, teacher, and devisor of numerous Scottish Country dances and creator of a number of what are now standard dance formations. John died in 2014 at the age of 90, and in a separate article in a future newsletter, I’ll write more about his history. In this present article, we’ll get a glimpse of his personality through some of the notes he included in his dance books.
He published at least 49 dance books based on what is listed on the Strathspey website. John frequently included notes in his books that sought to explain how best to execute the dance as he had intended it, or, to describe how to dance a new formation. Often a short comment about the person or place the dance was written for, or other circumstances related the creation of the dance, may have been inserted.
Somewhere in the mid-1990’s, the remarks in his books started becoming more personal. Little stories or anecdotes began to appear, many of them humorous. Additionally, more details surrounding the inspiration for the dances began emerging.
As I peruse his books looking for dances suitable for teaching or a dance program, his stories often bring a smile to my face or influence me to teach a particular dance. So for your enjoyment, and to provide insights into the personality of this man who contributed greatly to our dance community’s dancing pleasure, below are examples from notes in his books.
From The Bankhead Book Part Six; name of dance: Uncle Isaac
“My father’s mother claimed to have a family connection with Sir Issac Newton. We have no proof of this connection, but they both came from the same part of Lincolnshire. An interesting parallel is that I was sitting one day under a haggis tree and a haggis fell off onto my head. This made me gravitate to Scottish Country Dancing! Someone in the “Big Apple” actually believed this story which proves that if one tells a big enough lie it may become established truth! One of my father’s cousins took her mother, my grandmother and another aunt to a restaurant in London. Wishing to impress the other diners, the aunt said in a loud voice, “Of course we are all descended from Sir Isaac Newton”. She was promptly kicked under the table because Uncle Isaac was a bachelor, and, in those days, single parents were not even mentioned in polite circles.”
From The Australian Book; name of dance: The Toyboys of Toowoomba or Rebecca Dreaming
“The Brisbane Branch held a weekend in my honour at Shannon Park, Toowoomba. Toowoomba is a town in the mountains to the west of Brisbane. Alcohol was forbidden in the residence but Kay Lane invited some of us to a tavern for pre-lunch drinks. After a generous glass of sherry, Rebecca told us of her fantasies. She would like to have a toyboy, who would be dressed in leather with metal studs and who would take her for rides on his large motor-bike. This story became the joke of the weekend and I felt that it deserved a dance. The alternative title is in Abrorigine (sic) style. While I was staying in Whangarei in New Zealand, I was amazed to see a sign Now-Selling BOYS Alas, for the Rebeccas of Whangarei, it was the house which was for sale and Boys was the name of the estate agent!”
From The Brodie Book: name of dance: The Micmac Rotary
“The Micmac Rotary was the bane of motorists in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It was a large traffic roundabout with a lake in the middle and it caused chaos during the rush hour. It has now been replaced by a conventional junction. The Micmacs were the original Indian inhabitants of Nova Scotia. The dance was very popular when I taught it in Paris in 1989 and repeat performances were requested several times during the weekend. The word “micmac” is used in French to mean foul play or complete chaos!”
From The Greenburn Book Volume 2; name of dance: Drumheller or A Tit-Bit for Dinosaurs
“At Drumheller, North-East of Calgary in Alberta, there is a wonderful Dinosaur Museum. I was photographed at the entrance with my head inside the mouth of a very fierce beastie.”
From The Stoneywood Collection; name of dance: Angela and the Swan
“Currently there is a frequently-repeated advertisement on Grampian Television for the Bank of Scotland. In it there is a young woman called Angela who rides around on a swan while singing a little song to herself. This dance is not intended to be Angela’s “Swan Song”.”
From The Stoneywood Collection; name of dance: Holy Cow !!!
“I called at Dean’s Shortbread Factory, in Huntly, to buy shortbread to take to Morland. In the shop they had various novelties for sale including a stuffed cow, which amused me very much. This cow gave me the idea of a title for a dance and now, here is the dance !!!” Eunice, Katherine and I have eaten there! ~ The Editor
From The Stoneywood Collection; name of dance: Oompah, Oompah, Shove It Up Your Joompah!
“The title comes from a chance remark which Joe Murphy made during a telephone conversation. He was referring to the way some bands play Country Dance Music.”
….. to Scottish dance for a week in Calgary, Alberta, July 28 through August 4, 2019 at Mount Royal University.
It’s a super fun time! You’ll dance and socialize with people from all over the world who, like you, are there to learn and improve their dancing in a fun, supportive setting. It doesn’t matter if you’re a relatively new dancer or have been dancing for decades – there is a morning class that will be a perfect fit for you - basic, intermediate, experienced and experienced challenge. You can choose from a variety of mixed level optional afternoon classes and in the evenings, everyone joins together to enjoy the social dancing and an after party. There is a mid-week ceilidh, where we all get to appreciate the hidden talents amongst us and the last evening there is a formal ball and banquet.
This event is seriously addicting! Go once and you’ll keep going back year after year after year.
The week is organized by The Scottish Country Dance Teachers’ Association (Canada). You can
go to their website now to check out the dance programs, costs and accommodation details: https://tac-rscds.org
More detail are available here: http://www.rscds-swws.org/TAC_ad_final.pdf
Register early - online registration opens March 1, 2019.
From the January/February 2009 edition of The Scottish Country Dancer.
The following is an email sent by Don Morrison to the people involved with our 2006 dinner dance:
"Thank you all who contributed to and attended our 21st Annual Dinner-Dance and made it a memorable event. Special recognition goes to M.C. Robert (Dancing with the Stars) Stuart; Valerie Moore for the striking table decorations depicting our theme "Something Old, Something New"; Susan Shaw, Registrar, keeping records and welcoming dancers; Linda Mae Dennis, who made the distinctive name tags; our musicians, Lisa Scott and Leslie Hirsch who ably performed a long and difficult program; Piper Annette Allen and the Demo Team, who presented a lively introduction to the evening; our dance Briefers: John Shaw, Liza Halpenny, Geri Stuart, Linda Mae, and Marge van Nus; and lastly, but not least, Marie Morrison, for the attractive flower arrangements."
Once again we have blessed ourselves with a thoroughly enjoyable dinner dance. Sincere thanks are due to Don Morrison, dance chairman extraordinaire, who spent many hours tending to all the details of the evening, making sure things were not forgotten and everyone was on task. His wife, Marie, filled the hall with beautiful flower arrangements on elegant tablecloths.
Gustatory pleasure was followed by a high-speed reprisal of the Performance Team dance "The Gaelic College Pipe Band's Welcome Home, " accompanied by piper Annette Allen and drummers Linda Mae Dennis and Patrick Hogan. After a few warm-up dances (prepared by Liza for public audience participation, of which there was none), we started our formal evening program with a Grand March directed by Don. An evening of rousing music and lively dancing followed, leaving us all happily exhausted.
Out-of-town guests from as far away as Ashland and Seattle joined us for our celebration. A thank you card from Kay and Ross Morrison of Bellevue, WA, noted, "The Dinner Dance was fun. Great food and it didn't seem to matter that we didn't know all the dances. People were very friendly and helpful. We intend to spread the word." I think this speaks volumes about who Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers is as a group. We are welcoming and supportive, here to have a good time and help others enjoy themselves, not to be daunting and demanding with dance participants. I know our walk-throughs help me feel more relaxed!
So, I'll add my thanks to Don's. Everyone worked really hard and created an excellent experience. Yay us!
From the January/February 2009 edition of The Scottish Country Dancer.
In a recent Level 3 class, Marge Van Nus taught the dancers an interesting dance named The Ballachulish Ferry. Following the dance (and for weeks afterward!) there was quite a discussion of the subject in the title.
From the Wikipedia:
The village of Ballachulish (from the Gaelic Baile Chaolais) in Lochaber, Highland, Scotland, is centred around former slate quarries. The name Ballachulish (pronounced Bah - lah - hoolish) was more correctly applied to the area now called North Ballachulish, to the north of Loch Leven, but was usurped for the quarry villages at East Laroch and West Laroch, either side of the River Laroch, which were actually within Glencoe and South Ballachulish respectively.
The name Ballachulish means "town of the narrows". The narrows in question is Caolas Mhic Phadraig - Peter or Patrick's Narrows, at the mouth of Loch Leven.
Beginning in 1733, a ferry service carried people and goods between Ballachulish on the north shore and the quarry villages on the south shore. This service continued until December 1975, when the Ballachulish Bridge was opened.
Here, via Martin MacKenzie, are the words to the Gàidhlig song, Gleann Bhaile Chaoil (meaning 'Glen of the Village of the Narrows') followed by the translation:
Gleann Bhaile Chaoil [Séisd:] O nach robh mi thall sa' ghleann a' fuireach, O nach robh mi thall an gleann Bhaile Chaoil, Nan robh mise thall sa' ghleann a' fuireach Chan fhàgainn e tuille, gleann lurach mo ghaoil. Sa' mhaduinn nuair dh'éirinn gun èislean, gun ghruaim, 'Se thug sòlas do m'inntinn bhith sealltainn riut suas; Chan eil gleann eil' air Gàidhealtachd bheir bàrr ort an snuadh, Gur mis' tha fo chràdh-lot bhith 'n dràsd' cho fad' uait. Gleann farsaing fìor mhonadh, dhìrinn e suas, Gleann maiseach fìneagach 's mìorbhuileach tuar; Ri samhradh is geamhradh do chleòca cho uain'; Chan eil nì a rinn nàdur nach fàs air do bhruaich. Nuair dh'éireas a' ghrian air bu chiatach bhith ann, 'S i cho fial flathail coibhneil a' boillsgeadh air chrann, I dùsgadh nan lòn-dubh 's nan smeòrach air ghèig, Chur fàilte, le'n ceòl, air a mòrachd san speur. [Faclan: Iain Camshron]
Glen of Ballachulish [Chorus] O, I was not living over in the glen O, I was not over in the Glen of Ballachulish, If I was over living in the glen I would not ever leave, beautiful glen my love. In the morning when I would rise without grief, without gloom, It would illumine to my mind to look up at you; There is not another glen in Gaeldom that could be more beautiful than you, And now I am in piercing pain, to be so far from you. Truly a wide moor, that I would praise, Glen fair, fruitful, and wonderful altogether; Through summer and winter your cloak so green; There is not anything that nature makes that does not grow on your slopes. When the sun will rise delightfully there, And she so generous, majestic, shining on the trees, Waking the dawn and the thrushes on the branches, Welcoming, with music, in the grandeur of the sky. [words by Ian Cameron]
From the March/April 2004 edition of The Scottish Country Dancer.
I recently attended a lecture at Reed College on the subject of building Social Capital in America. The speaker, Robert Putnam, showed how the level of the American Society's social networks and connections has steadily declined for the past 40 years. For example, from 1975 to 1995, the number of yearly picnics we go on has declined from 5 to 2. Changes in work, family structure, age, suburban life, television, computers, women's roles and other factors have contributed to the decline.
Every measure of American social connections has declined. Some examples of activities with lower frequency are: fewer attend club meetings, fewer family dinners, fewer times having friends over, signing fewer petitions and voting less, belonging to fewer organizations that meet, knowing our neighbors less.
You have already done something to reverse the problem. You have joined the Vancouver-USA Scottish Country Dancers Association! We are building friendships within our dancing group. We serve the community by performing together, which strengthens social bonds. And dancing is good for your health!
The previous low point of Social Capital in the United States was around 1900. Rapid industrialization, immigration, technological change, and urbanization disrupted traditional patterns of community organization. These forces dislodged people from their structures, on the farm or in the old country that had anchored their lives, and thrust them into a state of personal uncertainty and social disorganization. The nation showed symptoms associated with declining Social Capital: crime waves, political corruption, urban decay, a widening income gap, and poorly functioning schools.
Alarmed by these trends, civic and social entrepreneurs around the country invented a new set of institutions to create community in ways that fit their new lives. They led others to connect with one another and to change a system that was no longer working. Many of the nation's most prominent voluntary organizations, most significant political reforms, and most visionary organizers were products of that time. Perhaps driven by similar forces in Scotland, the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society was founded during the same time period.
Within our association, we can invent new ways of connecting within our community. For instance, in order to help you meet your goal of attending more picnics, we will have a joint picnic with the Portland SCD group on June 27th 2004, at Lewisville Park!
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