Category Archives: Articles 2019

Johnsonville & Capital City Joint Annual Dance: 24 August

We’re ready to roll!

21 August

We’ve practised the dances, the band has rehearsed the music, volunteers are lined up to help from both Johnsonville and Capital City Clubs, and Jeanette and Rod are poised to guide us through a great night’s dancing.

REMEMBER to bring 2 plates of finger food (at least one savoury) so we’ll have a spectacular supper to rejuvenate us half way through the night!!

Download the programme here

 

 

Here are some helpful hints to make a great night even better

Come early to welcome our guests
That will also give you time to take your plates of finger food to the kitchen, get your shoes on, chat to fellow club members, warm up, and find a partner for the first dance. Plus, you’ll find it easier to get a park!

Register at the door – and make sure to get your name tag for the night
Entry for Johnsonville Club members is FREE, but we need to know who attends for our financial records.

Club members will get a sticky name label at the door, with an optional sticker for new dancers. The sticker will help experienced dancers buddy up with newer dancers, especially for less straightforward dances.

Most dances will be walked – for the top couple in each set
If you’d like to walk the dance, ask if you can be top couple in your set. You can then choose to stay at the top when the dance starts, or go to the bottom of the set where you can learn more by watching.

Not everyone can be “top couple”, but you can still benefit from listening, and watching the top couple closely so you can visualise what you will do when you get to top place.

Crib sheets – these give you a brief summary of the dance instructions

Download the crib sheet for Saturday’s dance here

You can use it ahead of time to remind yourself how the dances go.

You can also go to https://my.strathspey.org/dd/index/  to search for instructions and videos of dances you’re not quite sure of.

Dance floor conventions – so everyone’s on the same page

To make the evening flow smoothly, we:

  • take our place in the set at the bottom of the lines that have already formed
  • make straight lines by lining up with the very top couple
  • rely on the couple at the very top of the line to count off the sets, making sure we know what number we are in the set
  • are quiet when MCs are briefing the dances, so everyone can hear the briefing
  • applaud musicians Aileen, Don and Hilary at the end of each dance –  they’ll be working hard for our dancing and listening pleasure
  • leave our crib sheets at home so we can socialise with our fellow dancers.

Acknowledging the band

How do you get there on the night?

Our dance is on at Ngaio Town Hall. Many of us will drive, and will be happy to give other club members a ride. If you need a ride, email Kristin and she can try to arrange a ride for you. If you need a ride home, talk to Kristin at the dance itself.

Click here for a map to Ngaio Town Hall

Parking is available in a variety of places:

  • in the small parking lot next to the hall
  • in a small parking lot across the road
  • on the street in front of the hall and Ngaio Library
  • further up the road at Ngaio station – go under the bridge and round the corner

Always a vexed question – what to wear?

This is our premiere event of the year, so it’s nice to dress up a little (but there is no dress code).

Men who have kilts will wear them, otherwise trousers and a shirt. Some women will wear tartan sashes or tartan skirts, otherwise smart casual with skirts and frocks being standard rather than trousers.

Wear something that will feel good to dance in, and that you won’t get too hot in. Layers are always good.

Volunteer roster

This is attached to this week’s club newsletter. You can check your time slot there. Thanks to everyone who’s volunteered to help on the day, and especially to volunteer co-ordinator Elizabeth Ngan who’s put in a lot of work drawing up the roster.

FINALLY – come along, have a good time and don’t worry if you make a mistake. They happen to us all! 

Any questions, feel free to email Kristin

We’ve already danced half the programme!

8 August 

We’ve made a very successful start on learning the dances on the programme for our shared Annual Dance on Saturday night 24 August.

Rod taught four of the dances last week at Club, and six or seven this week. That’s more than half the programme already done at least once!

We look forward to welcoming all to our dance on 24 August.

From Rod Downey, Tutor: It’s for everyone

Jeanette (tutor of Capital City Club) and I have put a lot of thought into constructing a programme that is accessible to all – both new and more experienced dancers!

I’m also making sure we’re familiar with formations in the dances like the espagnole and the all round poussette.

There are a few dances on the programme that are more challenging.

Dances marked with ** are generally unsuitable for new dancers – it’s better to watch.

Dances marked with * indicate you need to find a “clever” partner if you’re not too sure about the dance.

Download the programme here

You don’t have to know all the dances

The more familiar you are with the dances, the more relaxed you will feel on the night, and the easier it will be to follow any leads your partner or your set may give.

Come along to our Club nights at Johnsonville or Capital City as often as possible, watch the dances on YouTube if you’re a visual learner, read the instructions if that’s more helpful.

If there’s a particular dance you’d like to know more about, search for it at https://my.strathspey.org/dd/index/

Most dances have instructions and videos. To see dances done well, look out for videos that are Good or Demonstration Quality.

The image is of us dancing Midsummer Common at our Annual Dance in 2018. Watch a Demonstration Quality video of Midsummer Common here

We will walk many of the dances on the night

The more dancing you do, the better you’ll get at dancing “from a briefing”. Our new dancers are already recognising the names of formations well enough to dance more straightforward dances from a briefing – it’s a great skill, which comes over time.

To make the programme enjoyable for everyone, more difficult dances will be walked for the top couple on the night. If you’re not that couple, you will still get to see the dance walked as you listen to the instructions.

In the image, Rod is dancing City of Belfast. This is one of the more difficult dances we will walk on the night. It was on our July Tartan Night programme and we’ve practiced its espagnole formation many a time at Club.

Organising the dance with Capital City Club at Ngaio Town Hall

Ngaio Town Hall is an excellent venue. Be part of the team decorating the hall, or helping with supper. The more the merrier, and with the bonus of getting to know your fellow dancers better as we prepare for the big night.

We’ll be calling for Annual Dance volunteers soon. Sign up for the time that suits you.

From Kristin Downey, President: It’s a team effort – we all support each other

Everyone makes mistakes, no matter how long they’ve been dancing. The sign of an experienced dancer is knowing how to recover from their mistakes. I have made mistakes at every dance I’ve been to lately (apologies to my partners). We rely on each other as backstops in those moments where we’ve suddenly lost the plot.

If you do make a mistake, there’ll be someone in your set who’ll be happy to help you out. As Rod says, it’s a team sport, and that’s where the team spirit kicks in. If everyone who’d ever made a mistake left the dance floor, there’d be no-one left dancing!

It’s meant to be fun – and it is!
Just keep on smiling. As American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote, “Laugh and the world laughs with you“.

If you have any queries about our Annual Dance, please email me

Our Premiere Event: Be part of the fun

14 July

Our annual Saturday night dance is a very special occasion. It is our premiere dance event of the year, which we organise for our enjoyment, and that of other dancers throughout the region.

Aileen Logie, Don McKay and (club member) Hilary Ferral will provide the music to get our toes tapping.

Click here to add the date to your calendar Add to Calendar

Over the next month or so, Rod will teach all the dances at club so we are familiar with them. On the night, our experienced dancers will support new dancers attending their first Saturday night dance, to make sure everyone has a good time.

Download the programme here

Ngaio Town Hall is an excellent venue, and for the second year running we have the pleasure of organising the dance in combination with Capital City Club.

Be part of the team decorating the hall, or helping with supper. The more the merrier, and with the bonus of getting to know your fellow dancers better as we prepare for the big night. We’ll call for helpers closer to the time.

 

 

Dancing in Whangarei

Cath was a longtime member of Johnsonville Club from 1998-2012 – President in 2007, 2008 and Acting President for part of 2012. She is third from the left in the back row.

I was in Whangarei in early August, catching up with old friends and family members, and happened to be there on a Thursday, the day on which the Whangarei Scottish Country Dance Club meets in the Onerahi hall.

Two club members kindly picked me up from where I was staying and took me ‘home’ again afterwards.

Quite a few Johnsonville Club members will remember Cath MacAulay, who danced at Johnsonville before she moved to Whangarei. It was great to see her again. Cath dances at both the Whangarei and Kamo (also in Whangarei but meeting on a Tuesday) clubs, and says she recently moved house.

The Whangarei club’s tutor is Fiona Bullivant, who was my tutor at a summer school many years ago, so it was good to see her again too.

And a highlight of the evening was having live music. Twisty Willow (Barbara and Wes Bycroft) play for the club once a month, and I was lucky enough to be there on the right day.

Listen to Twisty Willow’s music here 

From Pat Reesby

Désirée Patterson: Summer School

A personal account

Désirée at Hogmanay, Masterton 2017-2018

When I first started dancing in February 2007, some people asked me if I had attended Summer School. No, I hadn’t, I knew nothing about it, I didn’t even know anything about Scottish Country Dancing.

But by the end of the dancing year, I knew how to dance – after a fashion – I was hooked, and I was keen to give Summer School a go, despite having injured a calf muscle at Tawa’s final club night while doing a rather too enthusiastic poussette.

As luck would have it, that year, Summer School was in Wellington, so I was able to attend as a commuter. I attended the Elementary/Beginners class, taught by Romaine Butterfield, and what I learned in that class still stands me in good stead today: posture, correct ‘handing’, foot positions, timing of steps, phrasing, eye contact.

Two years later, in 2009, I attended the Intermediate class at the Auckland Summer School, which was held at AUT, and accommodation was on campus in student hostels. Because I was a late registration (they probably had nowhere else to put me), I was very lucky to have been accommodated in a five-person student flat, sharing with four top UK teachers (Alan and Christine Mair, Ann Dix and Maureen Haynes – no less than RSCDS ‘royalty’).

Being such a newbie, I spent a lot of down time just listening to their conversations, and learned so much – about dancing, teachers’ perspectives, and the RSCDS as an international organisation.

Johnsonville Club Members- Alan, Elaine, Désirée, Pat, Janet, Linda and Loralee – Hogmanay, Masterton 2017-2018

I found the Summer School experience fabulous, fun and exhilarating, but exhausting and hard on the feet. Staying on campus is wonderful because, as well as the three or four sets of people in your class, you also get to meet people from the other classes, at mealtimes and other activities. People come from all around New Zealand, Australia and beyond, with many attending year after year.

Living in also means that all meals are provided and not having to cook is always a bonus in my book! As well as the daily morning classes, you can take part in some of the extra activities that are happening in the afternoons. These vary with each Summer School – there might be extra classes in other forms of dance or music, lectures, local excursions, and/or walk-throughs of the evening balls or socials.

That year in Auckland I attended a lecture by a physiotherapist who spoke about looking after one’s feet and other body parts that might be hurting after such intensive use. It is tempting to want to do it all, but you might also want to use the free afternoons for resting your weary feet, catching up on sleep, or reading up the cribs for the evening dances.

In twelve years of dancing, I have now attended seven Summer Schools, and I hope I will be able attend a few more before my body decides to give out on me. I must say, that in that time, I have learnt to pace myself (deciding which dances I would and would not do at the evening socials), learnt the judicious use of painkillers (for arthritic feet) and Voltaren Emulgel (for sore muscles), and the value of taking time to rest.

I have found that pressure socks (as in-flight socks) and ice-packs help with sore feet and calves. And have padding inside your dancing shoes!

Summer Schools generally alternate between the North and South Islands. They follow a predictable pattern, with some events being a regular part of the experience. Here is what a typical Summer School might look like.

The dates are always from 28 December to 5 January, regardless of the days of the week. On the first day (28 Dec), participants arrive in the afternoon, they register, and are allocated their room and given their ‘goody bag’, which will contain such useful items as information about the school and its key people, programmes and crib sheets of the evening dances, touristy information about the local area, often a notebook and pen, a named water bottle, sometimes a little treat (lollies or chocolate).

Most importantly it will have your name tag, which you must wear all the time, as it entitles you to meals, entry into the evening dances and transport to halls for the morning classes.

Advanced Class at the 1989-1990 Summer School in Hamilton including Johnsonville dancers John Homes (right, top row), the late Jim Crawford (middle, second from right) and Loralee Hyde (bottom, right).

Before dinner on the first day, there is a short function, with drinks and nibbles, for first time attendees. Your name tag will have a star or other form of identification to show you are a first-timer.

The morning classes run from 9am to 12 noon, with a break for morning tea. These are compulsory. It’s important to turn up, as the tutor will have planned their class according to the numbers on the roll.

There are usually classes at all levels ranging from Elementary to Very Advanced Technique, all taught by highly competent teachers, some from overseas. On the first or second day, a photographer will take photos of all the classes, as well as of the whole school (quite an exercise!).

After lunch there will be a programme of optional activities, and after dinner there are usually evening dances. The first and second evenings are casual socials, lasting from 7:30 to 9:30 – not too long and not too difficult. Of course, all the evening functions have live music.

Loralee and Kristin at a movie star theme night, Auckland 2005-2006

The third evening is a Fancy Dress dance – the theme is detailed well beforehand so you can come prepared (fancy dress is optional). Prizes are awarded to the best costumes. This dance is planned and briefed by young dancers (JAMs – Junior Associate Members). The dances are fun and energetic!

The fourth night is Hogmanay – New Year’s Eve. This calls for somewhat more formal attire – certainly if you are male and own a kilt, this is the time to show it off – and be prepared for a long night.

After the Hogmanay midnight ceremony, there is more dancing – a couple of dances, plus traditionally, the 32-some Reel, or Eightsome Reel, which is danced with much gusto.

If you want to take part in that, it is a good idea to attend the walk-through in the afternoon. If you join in without knowing it, and make a mess of it, you will just spoil it for those that know and love it. Just enjoy watching it instead!

I haven’t mentioned the ‘after-parties’ which take place in the accommodation’s common room after the socials, and where often people do yet more dancing, to music played by members of the band and/or members of the Musicians’ Class.

The after-party after Hogmanay is legendary and has been known to continue into the early hours of the morning (e.g. 4, 5 or 6 am). Needless to say, breakfast is replaced by brunch the following day. Many of the young people don’t even turn up for that.

New Year’s Day is the day of rest – for some. Brunch is the only meal provided on that day. There will be no dinner. A list of cafés, restaurants or supermarkets in the vicinity will be made available so you can organise your own. Sometimes picnic packs can be provided (need to book for these).

During the afternoon on 1 January, the NZ Branch of the RSCDS has its AGM. This is open to all, though not all attend. It is quite interesting to see/hear how things are organised, and what people’s issues are. Of course, members of the Executive are elected, there is voting, and then there are the dreaded Remits – with a bit of luck they won’t go on for too long …

For a bit of levity, the Wooden Spoon will be awarded to the school’s biggest ‘stirrer’. On 2 January, classes start again – hopefully your feet will have recovered from the previous three days of classes and social dancing.

Johnsonville dancers – John M, Désirée, Joan, Deborah and Shelley – in the Grand March, President’s Ball, Dunedin 2014-2015

In the evening, there will be the traditional President’s Ball, which is preceded by drinks and nibbles. This is a formal occasion, and a chance to dress up in your best finery. There is usually a photographer, who will take official photos, but will also be available to take photos of you and your friends. This dance goes on until midnight.

The next night, there is no dancing – phew! You get to sit and watch. It is Ceilidh Night, where talented attendees perform items – music, singing, dancing, skits, poetry – there is such a lot of talent amongst the SCD community!

Loralee (dark green top) and Philippa (pale green top) dancing to the music of Teddy Bears’ Picnic in a ceilidh item, Napier 2001-2002

If you have any performance skills, make sure you get in touch with the Ceilidh organiser – they will be calling for items in the daily school newsletter.

On the last full day of the school, there is the infamous Mock Court in the afternoon, where prominent people (members of the Exec, teachers, summer school organisers, and general ‘big noise’ people) are hauled up before a ‘court’ to answer to trumped-up charges of serious misdemeanours.

They are given outrageous punishments, such as dancing 40 Pas de Basque in a row, or dancing Petronella backwards … It is all a lot of fun, and as a newbie, you need not worry about getting targeted.

Désirée, Final Night, Nelson 2018-2019. “What a blast!”

The final night is another social dance, finishing at the respectable time of 9:30pm, after which you go back to your room to pack for your departure the next morning.

Home, to your own bed, and no more dancing for at least a couple of weeks, so your body can recover from all the rigours of Summer School. But what a blast you will have had!

From Désirée Patterson

2019-2020 Summer School

This is on at St Peter’s School near Cambridge from 28 December to 5 January.

Find out more about this Summer School and register for the newsletter to get regular updates

Unable to attend for the whole Summer School?

You are welcome to attend special evening events such as Hogmanay on 31 December and the President’s Ball on Friday 3 January. See the full programme

More details including the cost of evening events will be published in the coming months.

Scottish Country Dancing Music Workshop 2019

Helen, Lynne and Liz try out some tunes

On 16 June, I attended a music workshop with Lynne Scott – versatile musician, music teacher, and NZ Branch Music Adviser.

The workshop was aimed at both dancers and musicians, or talented people who are both.

It was held in Lynne’s beautiful music room at her home in Lower Hutt. With only four participants, it was disappointing that not more people had taken the opportunity to come and learn more about the music we dance to. There is definitely more to Scottish Country Dancing music than “putting on a CD and dancing to it”.

One of the participants was a very new dancer, but a talented musician; one other (me), a reasonably competent dancer, but with very sketchy music knowledge (I love music, but my technical understanding was stunted by hated piano lessons in childhood). We both had plenty of “aha!” moments during the day.

Lynne talked about such things as tempo (reel, jig, strathspey), ‘lead’ tunes, the arrangement and structures of tunes. I learnt the difference between ‘grace notes’ (the twiddly, decorative bits) and the ‘Scotch snap’ – the short (semi-quaver) note before a longer note, on the stressed note of the bar, which is characteristic of strathspey, and which makes Scottish music distinctly Scottish.

To illustrate, Lynne played various examples on the fiddle or accordion, and the two other musicians in the group played several tunes with her on the piano and double bass, to show how tunes were repeated in particular patterns.

When preparing to play for a dance there are many things for a band to consider: e.g. the kind of gathering, the state of the floor, the age of the dancers, the speed at which to play, the mood in the hall, even the ambient temperature.

In the choice of tunes, musicians have to select tunes that are similar in style within a dance, decide how to join them up, whether to have a change of key, have a ‘break’, or an extra long ‘lead note’ between 32-bar sequences, and how to phrase them to match the dance.

I came away from the workshop a little more knowledgeable about the music, but a lot more aware of all the time-consuming preparations that go into planning and arranging music for a dance programme.

The Wellington Region is very lucky to have so many skilled musicians available for our dances and classes, thanks to Lynne’s encouragement of likely prospects.

From Désirée Patterson. Originally published in Harbour City Happenings Volume 22 No. 2 June 2019

Thank you to Catherine McCutcheon for the photo

Finding Jimmy Shand

A chance remark can lead you off your chosen path … and set you up for an unexpected encounter.

While on a tour of Europe in May, my sister Karen (who is also a Scottish country dancer) and I managed to sneak in a three-day visit to Edinburgh and its surrounds including a side trip to Fife.

We’d both explored these special places on previous trips but there are always new delights to discover.

I am very fond of bird watching and photography. Hearing of my hankering to see puffins (such captivating birds), the friends we stayed with in Edinburgh arranged a boat trip for us from the fishing village of Anstruther in Fife to the Isle of May, a Scottish National Nature Reserve. With it being nesting season, we had a great chance of seeing puffins up close.

As we drove through Fife, we came upon the town of Auchtermuchty. John, our friend who was driving, casually mentioned this town was once the home of Jimmy Shand.

Loralee with Jimmy Shand (1908-2000)

I am sure John did not expect such an excited reaction from this Kiwi backseat passenger. “Jimmy Shand,” I cried out. “I love his music!”

From the time I started dancing in the mid-1970s, the tempo, clarity and energy of Jimmy Shand and His Band’s music has always appealed.

Many a time I’ve danced to Jimmy’s set of tunes for the Eightsome Reel. The De’il Amang The Tailors is a particular favourite—no matter how tired the legs are, this tune gives more spring to my step.

Another favourite is his arrangement of the traditional strathspey Braes O’Tullymet. Nowadays, I still dance to Jimmy Shand’s music as our Johnsonville Club tutor Rod Downey regularly uses his recordings. [1]

Having heard my excitement at seeing the town where Jimmy once lived, John added fuel to the fire by mentioning there’s a statue of Jimmy in Auchtermuchty.

Of course, we had to deviate off the A91 into the small town, driving up and down the narrow streets in search of Jimmy Shand. And there he was, playing his button accordion under a stand of trees.

Puffin with a catch of sand eels

Scottish Country Dancing adds flavour to our lives wherever we go. If you are ever in Fife and see the signpost to Auchtermuchty, I suggest taking a few minutes to veer from your path and meet up with Jimmy Shand.

We made it to Anstruther in time to catch the May Princess over to the Isle of May. On the boat we found out there was an estimated 92,000 puffins on the island along with hordes of other seabirds including razorbills, guillemots, Arctic terns and shags.

We had two and a half hours of bliss in this puffin paradise—and I got the close-up shot I wanted of a puffin with a beak full of sand eels to feed to its puffling.

From Loralee Hyde. Originally published in Harbour City Happenings Volume 22 No. 2 June 2019

[1] Rod Downey, Mathematics, Computer Science and Scottish Country Dancing, April 2019, p1

Click here for more about Jimmy Shand and his music

Dance Around the World!

Each year as we approach winter, Johnsonville holds a themed social night with dinner and dancing for members and their families.

This year on 11 May we celebrated the international nature of the Scottish Country Dancing community, and the international diversity of our club membership.

As always it was a lot of fun with our biggest attendance yet of 36 members and their eight guests enjoying good food, good company and a fun programme of dances.

Johnsonville Club has many home-grown Kiwis of course, but they are joined by dancers with links to Australia, Austria, Canada, China, England, Fiji, Holland, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, and (a surprise on the night) Zambia.

Marking up a map of the world helped us know a bit more about each other, and it was interesting to find that some dancers started their Scottish Country Dancing lives in places like Canada, Malaysia and Singapore.

Our standard venue of St John’s Church hall was full of good cheer, helped along by Allison K’s famous mulled wine! The hall was also full of colour, decorated with tartan tablecloths and rugs, a multitude of international flags and banners, and tea-towels from round the world.

Club members dug deep to bring along their international memorabilia, whether they could attend on the night or not. Thanks everyone – especially Wendy for her huge collection of flags.

International dress added to the atmosphere. Some outfits were easily identifiable others gave the most subtle of hints – tiny wooden clogs or shamrock socks.

There were outfits from Austria, Bangladesh, China, France, Holland, India, and Japan, and others with tones of Africa and South East Asia, colours of Australia, or shades of the ‘Old Country’. And of course, there was plenty of tartan proudly worn.

An array of international outfits!

Our tutor Rod searched out themed dances, reflecting our countries of origin. Starting with Scotland, we moved on to There are no Kangaroos in Austria, Tokyo Flyer, A Trip to Holland, The British Grenadiers, Kiwi Black Magic, and The Coleraine Rant.

With no dances to be found for Singapore or Malaysia, he devised The Durian Rant for our South East Asian members. Thanks Rod for giving us a night of dancing fun we could all enjoy.

Lots of fun and laughter!

Final thanks to Allison K for all the work she put in as co-organiser and kitchen supervisor, to Loralee for her work setting up the online registration form, to photographer John P and to all those who helped on the night.

From Kristin Downey. Originally published in Harbour City Happenings Volume 22 No. 2 June 2019

More photos

Click here for more photos of this fun-filled evening

Rod’s programme

  • Scotland (fractionally modified)
  • There are no Kangaroos in Austria
  • Tokyo Flyer
  • The Durian Rant – see Rod’s The Golden Bear Collection
  • A Trip to Holland (modified)
  • The British Grenadiers
  • Kiwi Black Magic
  • The Coleraine Rant – see Rod’s The Golden Bear Collection

Your ears can be busy too!

What might your ears be doing while your feet are busy dancing … or when you’re sitting out a dance?

Wellington contingent at the ceilidh: Natalie, Gaylia, Pat, Elaine, James, Lynne, Michele and Lee

I was lucky enough to attend the recent Queen’s Birthday Weekend Scottish Country Dancing school at Katikati, where we heard a talk by our local musician Lynne Scott, who has often played for Johnsonville dances.

Lynne was accompanied by Auckland keyboard player Sharlene Penman, and her talk covered such topics as ‘lead’ tunes, styles and structure.

I was made aware of the many hours of preparation which go into choosing the best tunes for a dance. Lynne and other musicians try to match the phrasing of a tune to the formations of each dance, making it easier for us to remember ‘what comes next’.

The ceilidh band

We had a ceilidh evening at the school, and Lynne and Sharlene’s item showed just how versatile they are. They played Puttin’ on the Ritz; the rhythmic patterns of this 1920s Irving Berlin number are said to be incredibly complex.

‘Nibbles’ at the ceilidh!

The name Katikati refers to ‘nibbles’ and many ceilidh costumes reflected this theme. Lynne’s husband James became a red hot pepper.

Scottish Country Dancing weekend schools are well worthwhile; I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Katikati.

Besides classes, a Saturday night ball and the ceilidh, there was time for a dip in the warm thermal waters of Sapphire Springs. I wish we had them in Wellington!

From Pat Reesby

Daytime Dancing: Experienced Dancers

John Homes: Afternoon dancing
Daytime dancing: Tuesday 11 June

John Homes: Afternoon dancing

From late in 2018, we heard that Gaylia Powell, from Ngaio Club, was organising some sessions of dancing during the afternoons, for those who would be able to so attend.

The sessions would be for experienced dancers, taught in the first instance by Catherine McCutcheon, on two Tuesday afternoons a month, at St John’s Church Hall, Johnsonville.

I was able to attend three of the four sessions last year. The first session was straightforward enough, with dances well within the capabilities of most dancers with a couple of years’ experience. But this was just Catherine’s evil plan to lull us all into a false sense of security.

From the second session, the gloves were off. Some of these dances were hard. They were good, enjoyable dances once you could get them down and going, but it was a tough time getting there.

Catherine told us that she would not be looking at what our feet were doing, presumably as long as they got us to where we were supposed to be. This was just as well, because often we were using all our brain power to work out where we needed to go, leaving none to consider the manner of our going.

There have been two sessions so far this year. Catherine has not attempted to break us in gently, but has thrown us into some really difficult dances from the beginning. When I say that the dances have been hard, this is in the sense of ‘Ensure-Brain-Is-In-Gear-Before-Engaging-Feet’.

They have not been more physically demanding than a lot of the dances popular at Saturday night events, and none of them have been prolonged memory tests.

With all these mentally demanding dances, one might expect a fair number of mistakes. Mistakes were made, some of them by me. However, a good sense of humour on everybody’s part has meant that the mistakes could be laughed about, and then onwards, to the next mistake.

If you are wondering whether these sessions might be for you, what would you need? You will need a fair amount of dancing experience. For most people, about four years minimum would be needed, and that is, of course, four years of dancing regularly, not just time since you started. It would pay to check with Catherine and your club tutor.

Although the dances are not (usually) very physically demanding, you will need a certain level of physical fitness to get through them. While footwork is not an issue as long as you can get to where you need to be, you will be expected to show a good understanding of phrasing and covering, and to dance fast or slow as the dance requires.

Last but not least, you will need a sense of humour. Mistakes will be made, some of them by you, and you will need to able to laugh at them.

From John Homes (dancing Foxhill Court in the photo above on 11 June). Originally published in Harbour City Happenings Volume 22 No. 1 March 2019

Daytime Dancing: Tuesday 11 June

Dancing Bon Accord

Seven Johnsonville Club members – John H, Désirée, Pat, Maureen, Moira B, Hilary and Loralee (photographer) – took part in the daytime session for experienced dancers on 11 June at St John’s Church Hall in Johnsonville.

Led by Maureen Robson, we danced four interesting John Drewry dances with lots of fun and laughter (along with a few mistakes as mentioned in John’s article above)!

  • Bon Accord
  • The Clootie Well
  • Foxhill Court
  • Dunblane Drummer (alternative name is Alex Doig’s Jig)

Click here for more photos of the afternoon

Find out more about the daytime dancing sessions for experienced dancers

See details of the general sessions of daytime dancing

Farewell to Don and Judy Keats

A good turnout of club members farewelled Don and Judy Keats on Monday 20 May.

Maureen gave a brief speech and a bounteous supper with two cakes and fruit was on offer along with lots of smiles and fond farewells.

Judy and Don are moving to their retirement home on the Kapiti Coast, and will take up membership of Waikanae Scottish Country Dance Club.

They’ve been members and very regular attendees at Johnsonville since 2014, helping behind the scenes whenever asked at both club and other events as well as volunteering to distribute posters for our beginners’ classes.

Thank you both for your help and your friendship on the dance floor. We will miss you. Please come back and visit when you can.

Good luck and happy dancing in your next phase of life.

Thanks to John Patterson for the lovely photo.

“Thank you all for making our 5 years of Scottish Country dancing so much fun. We’ve really enjoyed being part of the club and all its activities. We’ll be dancing at the Waikanae club from now on, but we’re sure our paths will cross in the future; maybe in a cross-over reel! Thank you.” Don and Judy Keats

Maureen Robson: NZ Branch Award

Ngaio is always the first club in the Wellington Region to hold their annual Saturday night dance, with a good crowd at Ngaio Town Hall making for a great night on 4 May.

More than ten Johnsonville Club members were on the floor, enjoying their night’s dancing to music by Aileen Logie, Don McKay and Johnsonville Club member Hilary Ferral. Among them was new dancer Sandy Zang, as well as quite a few of our experienced dancers.

Maureen was the Advanced Class tutor at the 1989-1990 Summer School in Hamilton including Johnsonville dancers John Homes (top row, right), the late Jim Crawford (middle, second from right) and Loralee Hyde (bottom, right).

A very special feature of the night was a presentation of a RSCDS Branch Award by New Zealand Branch President Elaine Laidlaw to long-serving Tawa tutor Maureen Robson – for outstanding service to Scottish Country Dancing. Many congratulations Maureen.

Tawa Club secretary Désirée Patterson (also a Johnsonville Club member), reported full details of the award.

Maureen’s contribution to Scottish Country Dancing has been considerable, including:

  • Tawa tutor for 35 years, being one of the Region’s longest serving teachers
  • Serving on the Wellington Region Committee for a number of years
  • Organising Region Weekend Schools
  • Teaching Teacher Training classes on behalf of the New Zealand Branch, and mentoring numerous candidates studying for their teaching certificates
  • Always willing to provide advice, support and encouragement to others, especially newer teachers
  • Teaching at a number of New Zealand Branch Summer Schools, numerous Region classes and Weekend Schools throughout New Zealand
  • Devising many dances, some of which have been published in RSCDS Books
  • Maintaining the New Zealand Branch Memorial Book.

Maureen was acknowledged for her contribution at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016

Maureen and husband Alan were Johnsonville Club members in years gone by, also tutoring and serving on the committee, so we too have benefited from their service to Scottish Country Dancing.

Thank you Maureen.