The Scottish Country Dancer
Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Southwest Washington State Branch
Volume 37 #3
November/December 2020

Articles in This Issue

Teach + Practise Scottish Dancing = Greater Movement

by Tom Halpenny

I value Scottish dancing for our ability to move to music in order to promote physical and mental well-being. I like to attend high-activity dancing classes. Scottish country dancing classes can be very active indeed. However, a significant number of classes I have attended have more talking and less dancing. I authored a 2014 newsletter item titled
Move to the Beat of the Music that measured Activity Time Percentage for classes and dances of six types of folk dancing. Scottish dance classes that move dancers 40% of the time or greater gave me a positive interest level, while less than 40% gave me a neutral or negative interest level.

RSCDS 2020-2021 online classes pedometer Steps per Minute

I resumed recording my dancing activity nearly three years ago with a simplified measurement that calculates pedometer Steps per Minute, including any short breaks in a class or dance. Continuous walking equals 100 steps/minute, so the measured Steps per Minute is an approximation of the Activity Time Percentage value.

I attended the RSCDS online Wednesday and Summer Celebration classes, measuring Steps per Minute. The chart displays the proportion of classes that reached my positive interest threshold (red line). We note that the
30-minute class format constrains what can be accomplished. However, we observe that several classes succeeded to keep dancers moving.

Scottish dance teachers could consistently raise the Activity Time Percentage above 40% by structuring a class with a combination of teaching new material and giving dancers more opportunity to practise what they have learned. Classes typically teach all new dances but rarely return to practise the learned dances. It takes about twice as much time to teach a new dance compared with dancing a learned dance. Teaching fewer dances and practising more dances leads to more dancing. The increased practice improves dancers' confidence.

In the RSCDS archive I discovered a 1958 article titled Scottish Country Dancing in Primary Schools.
It describes how two New Zealand school teachers incorporated Scottish Country Dancing into their school's physical education program. In the lesson pattern they developed (see insert), steps number 4 and 5 provided an optimal combination to teach and practise. Suggestion: that Scottish dance teachers adopt a similar pattern, to keep dancers moving above 40% with a combination of teaching new material and giving dancers more opportunity to practise with dances they have learned.

New Zealand primary schools' dancing lesson pattern

Fall Dance, Auld Lang Syne

by Friends

[As we didn't have a Fall Dance this year, I thought I'd bring back some memories of Fall Dances in the past. ~Ed.]

Fall Dance, 2019, by Martin MacKenzie
Just two weeks ago or so, we all enjoyed our Fall Dance in Vancouver, Washington.

We had some of the best music I've ever experienced at a local dance, thanks to Lisa Scott (piano), Leslie Hirsch (fiddle), and Erik Weberg (flute). I really enjoyed hearing the flute's melody rising above or alternately supporting the other instruments. The tune sets were very enjoyable.

Patrick Hogan created a well balanced sound mix for what is a difficult room acoustically. The dance program was well chosen. Cynthia did a wonderful job as chairperson. The dance had a masquerade theme and there were fun costumes and masks a-plenty. Everyone pitched in to help with setup and take down. There was so much good food available to enjoy (and it was fun overcoming so many disciplined people with Eunice's "crack", her famous frozen dark chocolate treat).

It was a pleasure for me to participate in the dance, "Tribute to Marge", written by Van Meter Hord, marking Marge's retirement from teaching SCD. John's personal tribute was very well written and well delivered.

All in all, an evening full of joie de vivre.

Tribute to Marge

Picnic Surprise Fall Dance (2018), by Liza Halpenny


Despite pouring rain, a happy group gathered October 27th for our Fall Dance, with the theme "Pacific Northwest Picnic Surprise." What was the surprise? The premier public showing of a video by the same name. (You can learn about this video in Tom's article.) A second special event at the dance was the 10th anniversary celebration of the formation of the Southwest Washington State Branch, with cake!

There was lots of great dancing, too, of course. Lisa Scott and Betsy Branch provided spectacular music which pulled everyone onto the dance floor to enjoy the program put together by Linda Mae Dennis. The event was chaired by Theresa Ryan and dancers came from as far away as Bend and Seattle. Everyone present contributed to the picnic of joy.


The Halpennys

Festive Fall Frolic (2016), Liza Halpenny

Leaves were flying, heels were flying, spirits were flying at our annual Fall Dance on Saturday, October 22 at the Columbia Dance Center. Autumn foliage and pumpkins greeted the dancers, six of whom were first-timers to a SW WA State Branch dance. The musical stylings of Cynthia Soohoo, Nathaniel Soohoo-Hui, and Alexander Soohoo-Hui inspired flight and elegance in our dancing. And their Disney-themed set for "It Should Be Fun" brought much laughter and singing along. Here is a short video of our group rocking "Catch the Wind":

The dance program was put together by Geri Stuart. Dances were briefed by Linda Mae Dennis and Marge van Nus. Patrick Hogan provided the sound equipment. Linda Lindley devised the decorations. Van Meter Hord welcomed dancers at the door. Other helping hands assisted with set-up and tea. And last, but never least, the scrumptious snacks were provided by all dancers. Thank you one and all for making this a joyous night to remember!

Calendar of Events

Nov 9: Tualatin Art Walk with Don
2 pm. (in person)
Nov 13: Friday Variety Hour with Linda Mae
7:30 pm. (Zoom)
Nov 17: Social Dancing with Liza and Tom
7:30 pm (Zoom)
Nov 23: Fun with Friends, Portland
7:30 pm (Zoom)
Dec 6: Holiday Lights Walk with Rebecca
6:00 pm. (in person)
Dec 8: Christmas Ships Viewing with Lisa
7:15 pm (in person)
Dec 11: Friday Variety Hour with Linda Mae
7:30 pm (Zoom)
Dec 15: Social Dancing with Liza and Tom
7:30 pm (Zoom)
Dec 21: Fun with Friends, Portland
7:30 pm (Zoom)
Dec 29: Betwixt and Between Online Ceilidh
7:30 pm (Zoom) Pending approval

Perhaps the most famous Scottish saying of all time is "Auld Lang Syne," made famous by the song attributed to Robert Burns, which is sung globally at New Years. The translation can be taken as "old long since" or "old long ago", meaning "days gone by", and when sung at New Years, it really means "let's drink to days gone by."

  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:  
  John Shaw
  PO Box 2438
  Battle Ground, WA 98604
  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 John Shaw, PO Box 2438 Battle Ground, WA 98604, . 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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