|Volume 30 #2||September/October 2013|
|From the Chair||Memories of TAC-2013|
|Perfect Pleasant Picnic Place Picked!||Welcome to a New Teacher|
|TAC New Brunswick, 2013||Branch Facebook Page|
|How to Scottish Dance the Kilted Mile||TAC Trek|
|Alaska and Yukon, 2013||Calendar of Events|
|Secretary Report - Online Branch Meetings and Correspondence|
|From the Chair|
|by John Shaw|
We've had a wonderful and glorious summer, and now we're heading into a wonderful and glorious Fall -- that time of year with autumn colors, crisp mornings... and dancing! Dance classes, and monthly dances, and dance workshops, and, yes!, the spectacular Balls -- like Cinderella could only imagine -- with the season culminating in ... ah, The Holidays. Are you as excited about this as I am?
As we know, behind these scenes of "joyous dancing together" is a lot of effort on the part of many folks to put these events on, what I like to think of as the "joyous working together." Many hands make light work, as my grandmother used to say, and there are lots of little tasks to go around. Truly, there is something for everybody, whether you are a member of long standing or a "newbie". And all this cooperative effort just enhances the enjoyment of the events -- here where we play host and put on the dance, and when we are guests at dances hosted by others: we appreciate each other's work the more when we understand firsthand what it took to put it on.
So, when you feel like "taking hands and stepping up", talk to your teacher, any board member, or even a fellow dancer -- that "new" dancer standing next to you in the set might just be the co-Chair of the Fall Dance, and would love to have just a little more help.
Welcome to the Dance!
|Perfect Pleasant Picnic Place Picked!|
|by Sally Palmer|
Yesterday I was happy to be able to attend the annual summer picnic put on by the SW/WA branch this July 7th. It was held at the Fairgrounds Community Park in Ridgefield, set in a wide expanse of gently rolling grassy hills and fields, with a wooded area at the back. Whoever found this place certainly has my seal of approval.
Our serene shelter spot was marked by the big beautiful new blue Scottish Country Dance flag that Linda Mae had ordered and stuck in the ground, making sure that we knew we were in the appropriate location.
When I arrived, most of the group was not far afield, winding up a game of bocce ball under a huge tree. Never having played that before, I decided to give it a shot and ended up doing fairly well for a novice.
Then we headed over to our tables under the shelter for the usual fabulous feast, which somehow always manages to be made up of just the right combination of a variety of delicious creations - as if the menu had been designed by a clever chef. Putting a halt to the eating was a challenge, but stop we must - it was time to get those full tummies up and dance all those calories away! Linda Mae, in her usual creative fashion, had prepared a delectable menu of dances with food-related names for the occasion, such as Granville Market, Apple Pie, and Cranberry Tart. First we set up on the concrete beside the shelter, but some of the folks objected to the sun and the hard surface, so we moved over and did a few of the dances in the shady grass. Neither was ideal for skip change or pas de basque, but it was so much fun to be dancing outside, it didnít matter at all.
|Why Else Were We There?|
I believe we ended up with about 18 attendees, including a woman named Barbara, who had run into Linda Mae earlier and had come by to see what it was all about. She decided to try some of the dancing and did very well, considering it was her first experience.
For the grand finale, just in case we hadnít had enough exercise, we streaked off up the hill and went for a fast-paced walk on a nice trail in the woods.
I didnít make it to last yearís picnic, but Iím really glad I didnít miss this one. A good time was had by all. And it didnít hurt that it was one of the most glorious Northwest summer days ever!
|TAC New Brunswick, 2013|
|by Martin MacKenzie|
Folks, I offer this as a little bit of my own perspective on a trip that eight of us took to TAC Summer School at Mt. Allison University, Sackville New Brunswick, Canada beginning the end of July through the beginning of August this summer.
When I travel, I try to keep my eyes and ears open as much as possible to obtain a feel for the place and to learn of the people and things that inhabit it. Thus, my comments will largely be based upon things, images, or people that I encountered and are still at the top of my memory.
First, I made it a point to attend the evening ceilidhs on the ground floor of Harper Hall, the dorm building that many of us were housed in. A portion of these were just gatherings to snack, socialize, or put up one's aching feet. At least twice, musicians showed up from the evening's dance or classes during the day. In both cases when this happened, Ruth Jappy took charge and started off some old time dancing and during one evening before Ruth took over, Antoine Rousseau, one of the other teachers who hails from Paris, France, designed a quick Scottish dance on the fly then called out figures in the middle of the dance, different than what was just created, just to see what would happen. As the reader might expect, the dance fell apart into laughter. At one juncture, someone brought song books full of songs from Scotland or emigrants to the New World from Scotland with a few Irish songs thrown in for good measure. In all cases, I was left with one inescapable conclusion: If Scotland was wiped off the map today, we would still know she existed as the culture still continues in the lives of her emigrants and their descendents.
Some of us, as if we hadn't beaten our feet to a pulp already, took in a personal critique class which was run by Bill Zobel, Muriel Johnstone's husband. John Shaw, Liza Halpenny and I were in this class. Liza and I were paired together for parts of the class that required couples. I was gratified to hear the only critique of my dancing was the perennial "Point your toes!"; always something I have to focus on. My conclusion: Liza made me look really, really good. Joking aside, it was nice to have done so well.
|Harper Hall, aka Ceilidh Central|
I was in an advanced technique class taught by Antoine Rousseau. Though he is primarily a Francophone, he has enough English to do quite well as a dance teacher. One memory of this class remains that I still find amusing. We were being taught a dance in which there was a figure in which the entire three couples of the dance were in motion but were required to end up on the side lines after its conclusion. After our execution of that, he observed, "The reels were okay, after that was crap. That's a Scottish word, you see!"
With that same teacher in what may have been the same class, Keith Smith played fiddle for us. At one point Antoine asked Keith for a slow strathspey. He played this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNqsQJ3a1fI Yup, you guessed it, the "Star Wars" Imperial March. Listen to it. It really works! Upon encountering Keith at a lunch after the class, I hummed the opening bars of the tune as I walked past him. As you might expect, laughter was provoked. As my kids would say, "That's awesome!"
Though I didn't expect this, at the Wednesday night Scottish music concert, I met Daisy Perry, a Canadian from Edmonton, Alberta. She's a student in the Celtic Studies program at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and a fellow Gŗidhlig learner. We had a number of opportunities to work on our spoken Gŗidhlig the rest of our time there. Also, towards the end of our time, our very own Marge gave me a commission to create Gŗidhlig thank yous for the leaders of the programs that teach teachers how to teach Scottish Country Dancing and teach musicians how to play for Scottish Country Dancing. I was thrilled to promote the Gŗidhlig language in that way in such a very Scottish event.
Finally, though there are many more observations and moments that could fill another couple of newsletters, I won't include anything more but my invitation to attend TAC Summer School 2014 in Greely, Colorado this next year and make your own memories!
|How to Scottish Dance the Kilted Mile|
|by Tom Halpenny|
I was fortunate to be part of a five-Scottish-dancer team who ran the Kilted Mile race at the July 20 2013 Portland Highland Games. Each lap as we passed the grandstand, we paused the running and performed some Scottish dance. The crowd went wild. Our fan club was amazing. Linda Mae Dennis, Holly Gibson, Tom Halpenny, Kate Prouty, and Bryan Jones had fun training together.
The SCD Branch was thinking of more effective methods to advertise Scottish Country Dance at the Highland Games. We implemented several ideas and one of them was to Scottish dance the Kilted Mile. Linda Mae had imagined the possibility in 2007, and the Southwest Washington and Portland SCD Branches provided the financial support to make something happen in 2013.
We identified five Scottish dancer participants and began training June 1. The frequency and intensity increased as we neared race day. We trained individually and met weekly to run on a track and test Scottish dance choreography ideas. We discovered two running ability levels: three runners could run noticeably faster than the other two runners, so we divided into two groups. The team walked to Ice Cream Renaissance after each practice, and enjoyed the camaraderie.
|Reel of Five|
Each group performed its figures as it passed the grandstand. The Scottish dancers demonstrated their phrasing skills to get to the right place at the right time as everyone rendezvoused on the final lap to dance a reel-of-five finale. The audience of 1000 was initially startled to observe dancing. The excitement grew as they anticipated the arrival of each group's next lap around the track to see what was coming next. Kilted Mile dancers particularly noticed their fan club cheering from the Scottish Country Dance table at the top of the grandstand.
Thanks to Maggie Hannahs who designed the Scottish Country Dance tee shirt that made the Kilted Mile Scottish dancer team more visible.
I trained individually in our pasture at home. I mowed a circular quarter-mile path and ran daily. I gradually built up my stamina to be able to continuously run the required four laps in ten minutes. My dogs inspired me to continue as they accompanied me and ran effortlessly. Running feels good and would be a healthy activity to continue and supplement dancing.
|Alaska and Yukon, 2013|
|by Martin MacKenzie|
|Sawyer Glacier, in Tracy Endicott Arm|
|Near Mendenhall Glacier and Falls|
The MacKenzies of Clackamas went on an incredible journey to Alaska, the Yukon, and Victoria just this last week on a cruise ship, a floating hotel/casino/pleasure palace named Star Princess. It was for us, a kind of second honeymoon. We stopped at Skagway, Juneau, Tracy Endicott Arm Fjord to see Sawyer Glacier, Ketchikan, and briefly stopped at Victoria before coming back to Seattle, the home port. Some of the journey was so heavily laden with tourist kitsch as to border on the nauseating. It was amazing to see just how much of the economy of western Alaskan towns and even the Yukon is based upon the tourist trade and especially that from cruise ships. In each town, every day, at least four and sometimes five ships berth and disgorge their cargo of tourists into the town. In fact, most of the workers in the tourist sections of these towns aren't Alaskan and return to their normal abodes after tourist season is over. However, getting past that to see the back alleys, the landscapes of our various routes and destinations as well as conversations at dinner with our table mates more than made up for that. In one case, we met a couple from Southhampton, U.K. named Vida and Gordon who especially traveled all the way from home to take this cruise which for us, was right in our back yard. During one dinner conversation, Eunice, on impulse, asked if they had done any Scottish Country Dancing. They replied that they had done some during a wedding for a relative and Gordon had danced when he was in grade school. They had found those experiences fun at the time though it's not a part of their lives currently.
Shipboard was quite a luxurious experience with the crew providing for our every need and whim. Despite all attempts to be disciplined, this did no good to our weight thus we're happy to be back home away from that and be back dancing to try to trim some of it off. The ship actually provided an environment that we slept in quite comfortably. It was actually quieter than the home and neighborhood we live the vast majority of the time. Even when we were sailing through Tracy Endicott Arm Fjord, when we passed streams and waterfalls coming down from the mountaintops, we could hear the sound of them over the very minimal sound of the ship's equipment and engines, a fascinating experience. The crew and passengers were from every part of the world making this an international experience. I even began tallying the various nationalities we either met or worked with us during our voyage. I observed that the ship itself was built in Italy, the lifeboats and launches were made in Germany, and the technology that provided ship status updates to our staterooms was of Norwegian manufacture and as we found that some of the controls in our stateroom rather odd, we suspect those were manufactured in another European country as well.
Here is the list of nationalities:
Macedonia, Serbia, Thailand, England, Brazil, South Africa, Philipines, Ukraine, America, Australia, Peru, Mexico, Canada, India, Ireland, Indonesia, Argentina, Paraguay (Russia), Bulgaria, Romania, New Zealand, and Korea.
|Hanging Glacier, Tracy Endicott Arm Fjord|
|Bard and Banker|
Western Alaska and the Yukon is a land of extremes; beauty, heights, depths, color, and weather though it was beautiful when we were there. The photos in the article will detail some of that. Throughout, when you see a hill or mountain near water, there are absolutely no gently sloping sand or gravel beaches. There are always steep slopes down to a bedrock border. Juneau, the capital city, is built on mining tailings as when Europeans first arrived, there was no land to build a city on. In essence, it is built at the bottom of a fjord area like Tracy Endicott Arm. Skagway is built on a wide gravel bar and Ketchikan is built on a very narrow strip of land four blocks wide. The waters in the fjords are quite deep, starting at five hundred feet and going deeper from there. In many places, streams look like that coming down from the Himalayas, loaded with silt from the grinding of glaciers on the rocks they're sliding across. We found glaciers on most of the mountains we saw of a type called a "hanging" glacier. The glaciers that go down to the edge of the sea are called "tidal" glaciers. The Yukon ranged from Alaskan style mountains and glaciers to tundra to at least one area that looks like desert.
The last stop on our voyage was Victoria, B. C. for a few hours before heading to port in Seattle. One little tidbit I found interesting was a Scottish pub we stopped at for some Reisling and Innis & Gunn beer. The place was called the Bard and Banker as the building it is housed in was a bank, built in 1886. Here's some information on the pub itself: http://www.bardandbanker.com/ I believe that may have been visited by at least one member of my family, MP great uncle Francis James Anderson MacKenzie as he was often in town for parliamentary sessions and after that, lobbying to ensure that Canadian WWI veterans were paid, a big issue at the time as the Canadian government had found some reason to not pay some of them for their service.
All in all, a worthy journey. As the format of an article is too limiting for something like this scope, if any reader has questions or wants to see more photos, please ask.
|Secretary Report - Online Branch Meetings and Correspondence|
|by Tom Halpenny|
As the incoming SCD Branch secretary, I would like to introduce you to a new method for our RSCDS Branch members to learn what's going on with managing the Branch.
A new webpage indexes the Branch's online meetings and reports and correspondence.
The webpage will ask for a username and password.
The username is: cranberry The password is: tart
All Management Board and General meeting minutes and reports are open for members to access during the coming membership year. We can also access Branch business correspondence that occurs between meetings. We click a link to access a document.
RSCDS members can similarly access communications from RSCDS headquarters. RSCDS has a goal to improve the connection with its branch members and hopefully grow the membership. RSCDS regularly emails correspondence to branches with a reminder to access the member webpage of branch mailings.
You need to be logged in to the RSCDS website in order to view the mailings.
If you are interested, I can include you in the Branch Secretary's email list for notifications. Please feel free to contact me with any feedback or questions at the Branch's new public email address .
|Memories of TAC-2013|
|by John Shaw|
It all started about this time, last year. TAC (Teacher's Association Canada) held their annual Summer School in Portland, Oregon, in August of 2012. At the end of that session, the announcement was made that Summer School 2013 would be held in New Brunswick, Canada. Since Susan and I had been wanting to visit that area, including Maine and Prince Edward Island, for many years, we knew instantly that we were going to Summer School 2013 in New Brunswick! (As this was the area where my grandmother MacKenzie/MacPherson was born and raised, I just had to see it also. It was a set of perfect opportunities all around) ~ The Editor
Ultimately, Susan and I traveled with five others from the Portland/Vancouver area: Holly Gibson, Martin MacKenzie, Liza Halpenny, Linda Mae Dennis, and Sally Palmer. Over the course of the year leading up to the trip, we had a lot of fun, a lot of discussions, and even a lot of fun discussions about the preparations: where to go, how to get there, and when to get off.
To be honest, I was at least a little apprehensive of the "endurance factor". I had never attended a week long workshop, and the thought of dancing all day in classes, and then dancing each night -- and, No, one cannot NOT dance! -- left me wondering if I'd be able to get out of bed some morning part way through the week.
But the teachers paced us well. There was lots of warmup time, and lots of gentle advice to keep things gentle. The programs of the evening dances were shortened -- only 10 dances an evening -- and no one seemed to mind, in spite of the fabulous music! Further, there were no afternoon classes or evening dance on Wednesday. Instead, there was a concert given by all the Summer School musicians, and it was very well attended.
In addition to the Summer School week in Sackville, New Brunswick, our intrepid group visited briefly with former Vancouver dancer Jill Frew, toured beautiful Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine (complete with Biblically-proportioned deluge), ate some lobster, walked the sea-floor amongst the Hopewell rocks (you have to get the tide just right), savored the tranquility of the Chocolate River, and traversed Prince Edward Island (of Anne of Green Gables fame). There was so much to see, and there were seven of us, anxious to "see it all". Trying to coordinate everyone's movements was likened to herding cats, and some took to refering to themselves as "John-kitty", or "Holly-kitty", etc.
In retrospect, I see this trip was not unlike a dance. I'll bet you didn't see that one coming(!):
|Welcome to a New Teacher|
|by Leone Burger|
It's my great pleasure to announce that we now have a new Certified SCD teacher here in Eugene! Our class member, Kalindi Devi-Dasi, has successfully completed the RSCDS requirements to qualify as a Level 3 teacher (formerly known as a Preliminary Level).
A great deal of effort and determination was required on Kalindi's part to achieve this goal. The first step was to pass a written exam, which must be taken only on a pre-determined date and under strict monitoring. Then she had to pass a dancing exam to ensure that her technique was equal to RSCDS standards. Finally, she had to demonstrate that she was able to satisfactorily teach 16 bars of an assigned combination of footwork and figures within a given time period. Kalindi traveled to St. Andrews in Scotland to be tested on her teaching section. As she traveled to Edinburgh during the following week, she received the exciting news that she had passed the exam!
Our appreciation goes out to many who helped in this effort, including our Eugene class and many of the Portland and Vancouver, WA teachers and dancers who contributed to Kalindiís success.
|Branch Facebook Page|
|by Tom Halpenny|
We can visit the Branch facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RscdsSwws to learn about Scottish dance events. We can access photos and videos of ourselves having fun Scottish dancing. Please remember to "like" the facebook page when you visit.
|by Sally Palmer|
TAC Trek: An ode to the TAC-ers of Twenty Thirteen It all started off out at PDX in the dark of a midsummerís day We gathered around the departure gate, and soon we were whisked away To the far-off lands of Acadia, Where we wanted to dance and play. We FINALLY alit, then we drove quite a bit, And then became hopelessly lost. But not to worry, we werenít in a hurry, And eventually located our host. We stayed with Michelle in a lovely dell Among cats, goats, and cute little dogs. And while we were there we had quite an affair With the liquid Acadian fog. But we bounced right back and dried ourselves out And continued ahead to the north. The Chocolate River was also lost, But we found it and sallied forth. Another short drive and we would arrive At our dorms where we stayed for the school. A beautiful place where we had our own rooms, But that gym - it was HOT - never cool! We danced and we sweated, we ate and we sang We walked and we laughed and we ran. And when it was done we were sad indeed, But moving ahead was our plan. We spent a nice day on Prince Edwardís Isle With a very nice view of the bay. And during that time, we saw beautiful scenes As we drove through the towns on our way. We found ourselves, later that day In Cavendish, recalling a fable. And spent some time in the Haunted Wood And went in the House of Green Gables. But alas, it was time to take our leave So we headed back south to mid-Maine Spent one more night with Michelle and then Slept a little and nursed on our pain. The very last day proved interesting, One more chance to get lost, and then A quick little glimpse of the Portland Head And we dashed across town with a grin - really? The airport in Portland was nice to us They politely provided some stress For we needed one more little challenge to beat So on and on we did press. We made it to Cleveland with just enough time To dash through the halls to Gate C Expecting a nice game of Quiddler there, Instead it was Sprint 1-2-3! Iíll always remember this trip with a smile As I think back upon it with glee To travel so far with you wonderful friends Just meant all the world to me! Respectfully submitted to my fellow travelers with much love, admiration, and gratitude, Number Six, Sallycat P Xword
Calendar of Events