To great acclaim from the nine sets of dancers at Johnsonville’s Tartan and Final Night on 25 November 2019, Club Tutor Rod Downey and President Kristin Downey were awarded Honorary Life Memberships of Johnsonville Scottish Country Dance Club.
Rod and Kristin both started dancing at Johnsonville in 1991. Club member Loralee Hyde (Club President 1998-2000) has known them since that time and she undertook considerable research to prepare extensive commendations for their Honorary Life Memberships—which she presented during the evening.
As well as detailing Rod and Kristin’s significant achievements during their time at Johnsonville, the commendations provide a comprehensive history of the activities and the essence of our very successful Club over the last few decades.
Rod Downey: Tutor
Within a couple of years of starting dancing, Rod began training as a tutor. He got his full RSCDS certificate in 1996 and very soon after that, Rod took over from Marjorie Crawford as Club Tutor at Johnsonville.
For 23 years now, Rod has dedicated considerable time and energy to develop dancers at Johnsonville and contribute to Scottish Country Dancing in the Wellington Region, New Zealand and internationally.
In a piece Rod wrote in 2016 about what he most enjoys about Scottish Country Dancing, he said:
- The wonderful music, the rare instances where you are completely in sync with the music as a dancer, and the flow of formations of a really well constructed dance, together with the technical challenge of making less well constructed dances work
- Teaching and seeing people happy and improving in their dancing
- Seeing the club develop into a supportive and caring environment with the necessary sense of humour.
This year, in his paper Mathematics, Computer Science and Scottish Country Dancing, Rod said, “To me the music is the core of Scottish Country Dancing… As a dancer I love a great set of tunes… As a teacher, I consider the musical structure of my programmes for social dances as a key element.”
As tutor, Rod endeavours to help members understand and master phrasing to enable the flow of the dance from one figure to the next (and thereby increase their happiness and improve their dancing).
Rod works hard to give all dancers a good time, no matter the level of dancing experience. He brings energy, enthusiasm, experience and great music to beginners’ classes, Club nights, and social events.
As a bonus, Club members are also privileged to dance the ‘world premieres’ of his new dances and progressions. Thank you Rod, for all you bring to the Club.
Download the Rod Downey Honorary Life Membership Commendation
Kristin Downey: President
Kristin has always loved dancing of any sort, and things Scottish—the pipes, the music, the song and dance—so Scottish Country Dancing was a natural choice of activity.
Once she began, Kristin was hooked, loving the sheer joy of dancing, of working hard physically, of learning new things and how to do them well.
Along with her love of the dance, the music and the laughter and the spirit that is Scottish Country Dancing, Kristin has dedicated many years of service to the Club. She was Acting Secretary in her early years, served as Secretary for three years, Treasurer for three years and President since 2009.
Over her terms as President, Kristin has kept the Club aim of ‘fun, fitness and friendship’ to the fore while implementing innovative and appealing activities that help build Club membership and community spirit.
And it is important to note that at all times, Kristin credits the committed teams working with her (including the tutor, office bearers, committee members, supper team and many other volunteers) for the success of a wide range of endeavours.
In her 2018 paper, Recruitment and Retention of New Dancers at Johnsonville, Kristin detailed an extensive array of strategies she and the Committee and tutor have put in place since 2012 to actively recruit new dancers each year and retain experienced dancers.
Results speak for themselves—the Club has increased membership from 23 dancers in 2012 to 78 this year.
Johnsonville Club’s underlying philosophy is one of good humour, having fun, and increasing participation with a goal of building an inclusive community of dancers.
Kristin’s significant contributions have helped ensure the Club community spirit continues to shine through, growing stronger every year. Thank you, Kristin for the great impact you have made.
Download the Kristin Downey Honorary Life Membership Commendation