Ten Johnsonville dancers joined dancers from around the Wellington Region on Friday 7 February to welcome Xiaowen Yu home from eight and half years of study in the United States – where she gained her doctorate in neuroscience from Northwestern University in Chicago and undertook research as a Postdoctoral Associate at New York University.
After dancing from a young age at Island Bay Club (now Capital City) before moving to the United States, Xiaowen continued to dance during her time in Chicago and New York. In 2019, she gained her full Scottish Country Dancing Teaching Certificate.
The welcome home celebration was a surprise for Xiaowen with her mother Juping enticing her to attend by saying she’d been invited to brief two dances at a dance party. While thanking everyone, Xiaowen confirmed it was indeed a complete surprise as no one at the Region’s Tuesday session of summer dancing or at Capital City Club on Thursday evening gave even a hint of next seeing her at this event on Friday night!
Thank you to John Gregory and Helen Simmers for helping Juping set up for the dance with John creating another of his marvellous backdrops, this time with Xiaowen’s name literally lit up in lights.
Dancing to the toe-tapping music of Lynne Scott and Jason Morris with Sharlene Penman joining in the band from time to time, six sets of dancers enjoyed the programme of some of Xiaowen’s favourite dances.
Showing the depth and strength of Scottish Country Dancing in Wellington, we were treated to briefings from a series of well-known tutors: Jeanette Watson, Damon Collin, Elaine Laidlaw, Romaine Butterfield, Iain Boyd and Catherine McCutcheon, with Xiaowen herself briefing Mairi’s Wedding and Best Set in the Hall.
Xiaowen mentioned she’d had the pleasure of dancing with seven of the night’s attendees while in the US – Duncan and Mary McDonald, Sharlene, Gaye and Damon, her Mum and Margaret Pitt. Proof that when New Zealand dancers travel the world, they find dancing friends wherever they go!
Thanks also to James Scott for managing the sound for the evening and Elaine and Kevin Lethbridge for their hard work in organising supper and clearing up afterward.
Xiaowen will soon be off to Otago University in Dunedin for her second post-doctoral position as a researcher. So, make the most of the opportunity to dance with her before she goes!
See all the fun and laughter at this wonderful celebration with dancing friends in Loralee Hyde’s photos