|Volume 32 #1||July/August 2015|
At some point in life, usually after age six, the best birthdays are those had by other people. After all, who wants to get older? After attending Nannette’s Birthday Bash in Mt. Vernon on May 31, I can safely say that maybe it isn’t so bad after all. Nannette Crowell, a dancer in the Skagit Valley/Redmond area was turning 60 in style. As a gift to the area teachers, dancers, and her friends, she and her husband decided to have a dance, complete with lunch, door prizes, and a professional photographer for all those group photo needs at no expense to the dancers. Free dancing, what could be more Scottish than that? The idea of dancing to the music of Calum MacKinnon, along with Guinevere Sanger on piano, two other fiddlers and a bass player, plus a very low-cost road trip with friends was too good a deal to pass up.
Last year flyers and emails went out to the various branches on the west coast of the U.S. and Canada inviting dancers to the ball. Very general plans were made amongst area dancers early on and then before we knew it, it was May and time to actually figure out what we were doing. As it turned out, John and Susan Shaw and Linda Mae Dennis and I drove up on Saturday, stayed with some very nice friends of the Shaw’s, and then drove in to Mt. Vernon the next morning, squeezing 45 minutes worth of travel into three hours by taking a side trip to Snoqualmie Falls and the charming towns of Carnation and Duvall. Darrick Wong also made the trek north so that the Portland and SW Washington branches were well represented.
The dance was held in a gym at a local school, but it was amazing how a few well placed balloons and cheery colors transformed a plain venue into a ballroom. Lunch was served first, and I learned that vegetarian cutlets can taste very good indeed when smothered in marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. After some time for chit chat, it was time to dance. The program included favorites such as The Compleat Gardner, Best Set in the Hall, The Belle of Bon Accord, The Australian Ladies, and approximately 12 others. After about eight dances it was time for dessert. Apparently Nannette is well known for her trifle and I must say the reputation is well deserved. Some of us, who shall remain unnamed, even had seconds.
Unfortunately for those of us who were driving back home that evening, it was getting late and instead of our coach turning into a pumpkin at midnight it was more like 5:00 p.m. We changed out of our finery, although I changed faster than the others and miraculously found myself in a set for The Diamond Jubilee. I’m still not sure how that happened. I thought about somehow finding myself in a set for the next dance but thought better of it and we headed out. Soon, or so it seemed to those not driving, we were in familiar territory and it was back to real life. However, if real life includes fun moments like these, it really isn’t so bad after all.
We can access the minutes of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Southwest Washington State Branch 2014-2015 Annual General Meeting here: http://www.rscds-swws.org/meetings/2015-05-17/02-AGM-05-17-15.doc
The 2015-2016 slate of elected officers is: Chair - Linda Mae Dennis Vice Chair - Theresa Ryan Treasurer - Susan Shaw Secretary - Tom Halpenny The Panel of Instructors has appointed Liza Halpenny to serve in the Teachers' Representative role for 2015-2016.
July 18th, the Portland Highland Games is sponsoring a "Ceilidh Dance Social" in the afternoon. The Ceilidh Dance will follow the Harpers Circle/Fiddle Rally in the gym at 3:30pm.
Find us in the same room as last year---where the AM Fiddle Competition is held. Musicians will be Fiddle (Judge) Colyn Fischer and Keyboardist Lisa Scott. As caller for the event, I invite everyone, all ages with any to no dance experience to come enjoy fun dances, all taught on the spot!
For information please contact Lisa Scott (Portland) at and Marge van Nus (Vancouver) at
Many of you know Rebecca and Kathlleen Mintz. They've been dancing off and on in the Vancouver/Portland area for several years. Rebecca was the instigator and main teacher for the now infamous 5th Tuesday Mixers in Vancouver, infusing the whole with her contagious energy and excitement. Kathlleen was one of the organizers of Youth Weekend West in Vancouver, WA when it was here in 2012, and of course we have all enjoyed dancing and socializing with them on many occasions.
They were having trouble finding meaningful work here, and so opted to teach English abroad. As they were both working in northwest Spain starting in the fall of 2014, Patrick and I determined to go to visit them while they were there. There’s nothing better than a local guide in a foreign country.
Dates were generally agreed upon, and then actual planning began. One of the first issues we ran into was direct flights to Spain. It wasn't happening. We found a direct flight to Dublin, Ireland and a direct flight from Dublin to Santiago, Spain. We had never been to Dublin, so decided it would be a good idea to spend a day or two there – I mean, we were going to be there anyway! I poked around on the internet and found contact information for the Dublin Branch of the RSCDS. I also found out that their usual classes are on Thursdays, and we would be there on Tuesday and Wednesday. I emailed them anyway and asked if they had any recommendations for things to see and do in Dublin, as we would miss being able to dance with them. Within a couple of days, we had a reply that the teachers had put their heads together and decided "foreign visitors" was a great reason to have a social dance, that they had a hall available, live music lined up, would I like to teach a couple of dances, and would we like to see Trinity College and the Book of the Kells?
All of that turned out great! After an afternoon and evening of adjusting to the time difference, and a day of sight-seeing we met up with Helen McGinley at Trinity College, where she toured us around, got us in to see the Book of the Kells exhibit for free, showed us where she worked upstairs in the stacks, had a dinner with us, and took us to the church where we were to dance. One hiccup – the table tennis group was unaware that the dancers had booked the big hall, and were using it until 9:00pm, so we danced in a smaller room for the first part of the evening. They had a great turnout – 9 couples instead of their usual 3, and we all had a great time. Helen wrote about it in her blog: https://dublinscdclub.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/international-visitors/
Next morning we were off to Spain, and Rebecca was there waiting for us at the airport and helped us through the process of getting a car, and finding our hotel. Kathlleen was completing her last exam and met up with us later, after we had had a tour of Santiago, saw the cathedral and lots of pilgrims – even some bagpipe music by some street musicians.
The plan was to make our way across northern Spain by car, seeing what Spain was all about and arriving in Barcelona in time to dance with the Barcelona Branch on Tuesday. Unfortunately, their teacher has been ill and there has been no Scottish Country Dancing in Barcelona for several months, so that didn’t pan out. However, we did have a great road trip with the twins, which if you’re interested, you can read about in the blog: https://pmhlmdworldtour2015.wordpress.com/author/pmhxlmd89/ . Or, you can ask them about it directly, as they will be back for the summer at least.
We did not dance in Spain. We did see some awesome sights, beautiful countryside, and got to know our travelling companions even better than we did before. We went our separate ways on Wednesday morning.
Also during the planning stages, I had contacted Marilyn Watson, who lives in Christchurch in the UK. Marilyn was one of the examiners when TAC Summer School was here in Portland. She was looking for a place to stay for a week after Summer School, and Patrick and I offered to put her up and show her around. While she was here, we took her up the gorge to see the waterfalls, took her sight-seeing in Portland and Vancouver, dragged her to at least one band practice, and she even helped us pick green beans, etc. and take care of the garden. We got to be quite good friends.
When I told her our plans to walk from village to village in the UK, she naturally offered to let us stay at her house for as many days as we wanted. When she found out that we would be arriving on a Wednesday, she wanted to know if we would be interested in attending her technique class that evening. Of course, I did. Patrick wasn’t so sure, but came along anyway, and really did very well. It was very interesting and informative for me to see an examiner in action as a teacher.
We stayed at Marilyn's house Wednesday night, then took the train to Dorchester and walked to a different town each day for five days. We averaged 5 to 10 miles between towns, but didn’t really take into account that we would also be walking around after we got there, because that's how sight-seeing works. We did a good wander around the Isle of Portland, which is very hilly for all that it's an island. And we opted not to walk that spit of land between Portland and Abbotsbury because it is ALL pebbles, but went round the longer way on paved footpaths and roads. That didn't keep us out of the pebbles completely, as our path the next day took us along the coast as well. So even though we weren’t dancing, we were keeping our legs in shape for dancing.
We stayed at Marilyn's house again the next Tuesday night and, with mutual invitations to visit each other any time, departed for home on Wednesday.
We have a wonderful community of Scottish Country Dancers available to us worldwide. I'm glad I’m part of it. It’s like the insiders Air B&B. Just pick a reason (Dancer friends in Spain), and a season…
Denmark, a beautiful country comprising about 406 islands (70 inhabited), has a rich history with evidence of human inhabitation dating from 12,000 BC. More about historic Denmark and my extraordinary journey later.
During the SCD International Branch dancers tour of Denmark I "met" Hans Christian Anderson. "H.C.", as everyone calls him, is to the Danes what Robert Burns is to the Scots. Born in 1805, his accomplishments not only include the 156 fairy tales, 14 novels and short stories, 50 dramatic works and approximately 1,000 poems/articles/biographies/and humorous pieces but ALSO numerous paper cutouts, drawings and paintings!! A remarkable person!
A mobile composed of replica scissor cuttings is presently hanging in my kitchen window for anyone popping in for a cup of tea to see. The photo is my meeting with "H.C."
STV Children's Appeal
The RSCDS is teaming up with the STV (Scottish Television) Children's Appeal to help raise money for children affected by poverty across Scotland. Fund-raising is through sponsorship and donations, for well-known Scottish celebrity Lorraine Kelly to dance Scottish with participating groups. Television footage will be shot over the next six months, culminating in a televised 24 hour ceilidh over the weekend of 11 September.
Former RSCDS Chairman John Wilkinson devised the signature dance named "Kelly's Kaper", and Music Director Ian Muir wrote the music. We can view a performance of the dance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y18GD6GqF1A
We can visit the RSCDS website for more information. https://www.rscds.org/article/stv-appeal
Here is a dance activity to entertain you while Scottish dance classes pause for the summer. Ken Dewire teaches the International Folk Dancing Club on Tuesday afternoons in the air-conditioned Marshall Center, 3:00-4:15pm, admission $1.
Folk dancers learn a variety of steps with music nationalities ranging among Greece, Israel, Ireland, Germany, France, England, Japan, Peru and Mexico. Dancers immitate the steps while Ken demonstrates. The human brain uses both the thinking part and the feeling part to learn the dancing skills. We say the steps to ourselves in order to feel the rhythm of stepping, tapping, and hopping. Dancers often take hands in a circle or a line in order to communicate the feeling of movement, as in this video clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtEDNTxdZJg
New dancers may begin and come any week. Ken adapts the dance choices to attendance and dancer abilities. Ken is a Scottish dancer and also Dauntless Dancer who likes to practice several folk dance forms. Move to the music! Contact for more information.
Calendar of Events