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Loralee Hyde: My highlights from a wonderful week of fun and friendship! Plus a mysterious dancing Unicorn… This great crowd of dancers at the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland Summer School President’s Ball were keen to take to the dance floor after The Grand March. Johnsonville member Jeanette Watson is fourth from the left in the front row – she’s on the RSCDS NZ Branch Management Committee as Education and Training Coordinator. Photo: Miriam Laidlaw What is Summer School? In 2019, Johnsonville Club member Désirée Patterson gave this great account of the Summer Schools she had attended, including what is involved during this week of Scottish Country Dancing; the classes, social activities and evening events as well as the fun that is had. I hadn’t attended a full RSCDS New Zealand Branch Summer School since Wellington in 2007-2008, where I took part in Noeline O’Connor’s Advanced Low Impact Class. Since that time, I have occasionally enjoyed 3-4 days at Summer Schools over the Hogmanay to President’s Ball period including Masterton in 2017-2018 Johnsonville Club Members at Hogmanay in Masterton 2017-2018 – Alan, Elaine, Désirée, Pat, Janet, Linda and Loralee The last time I danced at a Summer School was at the Opening Night of the Cambridge Summer School 2019-2020, where I enjoyed catching-up with old friends from around New Zealand and Australia. At the Cambridge Summer School 2019-2020 – Yvonne Gray (North Shore), Christine Freeman (Melbourne), Loralee (Wellington) and Anne Walker (Perth). At that time, there were reports of a strange virus spreading throughout China…but little did we know that in less than two months from that Summer School, we would experience a three-year hiatus in getting together again due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Finally…a RSCDS New Zealand Branch Summer School Christchurch Region planned New Zealand Branch Summer Schools for 2020-2021 and then for 2021-2022. Sadly, both were cancelled due to the risk of covid. The Auckland Region took up the gauntlet for Summer School 2022-2023. Would their plans come to fruition? Would dancers from New Zealand and Australia (plus some from the rest of the world) register? Would we finally get-together after three long years? What a feeling of relief to arrive at The Parnell Hotel in Auckland on 28 December and meet so many happy and excited dancers, ready for a week of Scottish Country Dancing classes, social activities and evening functions. The dancers were well ready for chatter…and more chatter (often deafening!) as we met up again after so many years; at breakfast, lunch and dinner, on our rides (or walks) to classes, at the afternoon activities and on the buses to the evening dances. And there were plenty of opportunities to make new friends with dancers coming from across the country as well as from Australia, Scotland, USA, Japan and Turkey. Plus a mysterious Unicorn kept popping up in unexpected places. Adding to the magical world of Scottish Country Dancing perhaps? The magical Unicorn oversees the information table near the dining room at The Parnell Hotel! Here are some of my personal highlights of this Summer School. My class: Something different The classes to choose from at Summer School ranged from Development to High Energy and Technique. Plus a musicians’ course. Johnsonville Club member Maureen Sullivan at her class second from the right in the front row, with her tutor Ruth Budden to her right and then musician Sharlene Penman. Photo: Miriam Laidlaw An innovation this year was an Excursions Group, designed for non-dancers and those who wanted to save their legs for the evening functions. That option definitely suited me! We were fortunate to have Katharine Hoskyn as our knowledgeable tour guide and driver, with varied outings throughout Auckland including the Auckland Botanic Gardens, Auckland Art Gallery and Auckland Museum (where the current T-Rex skeletons exhibition proved popular). Usually we tackled a short walk each morning and invariably had coffee together in a café. What fun! With the added bonus of meeting dancers we hadn’t met before and finding out so much about our biggest city. Excursion Group at the Auckland Botanic Gardens on 29 December: Loralee (Wellington), Malcolm (Canberra), Betty (Hawke’s Bay), Lynne (Bay of Plenty), Katharine (Auckland) and Jeanette (Rotorua) The Auckland Botanic Gardens is large, covering 64 hectares (158 acres). I chose to find as many sculptures as possible on my walk. Being an avid bird-lover, Loralee was thrilled to discover a sculpture of a rather over-size pīwakawaka/fantail in the gardens. Musicians and MCs galore A feature of this Summer School was the great number of different musicians providing toe-tapping music in the evenings, and the range of dancers giving the briefings. Thank you to all! With Katharine Hoskyn and Neil Horne MCing, the theme of the Opening Night Social on 28 December was Welcome to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Sharlene Penman, Anne-Marie Forsyth, Lynn Pettit and Margaret Peace of Glenfiddle played wonderful rollicking tunes for us to dance to. Glenfiddle: Sharlene Penman, Anne-Marie Forsyth, Lynn Pettit and Margaret Peace The Fantasy Night on 29 December had plenty of magic! For this special evening, the band Thissldhu, usually featuring Clare Simpson and Iain Matcham, turned into Gryffldhu with Iain ‘Hermione’ and Clare ‘Potter’ taking to the stage alongside MCs Philip Oliver and Emma Uren. The band Gryffldhu, MCs Philip & Emma, Summer School Organiser Liz Hickey…with the magical Unicorn finding out what Scottish Country Dancing is all about There was plenty of fantastical costumes on show: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Elrond and Galadriel, fairies, elves, the Statue of Liberty…and a ‘real’ unicorn that managed to dance the dolphin reels in Pelorus Jack without colliding with other dancers in the set! Click on the gallery below to take a look at the array of costumes. Gryffldhu magically morphed into Jimmydhu for the Barn Dance on 30 December, playing country favourites such as Turkey in the Straw to match the theme. MC Elaine Laidlaw entertained us with wonderful stories about the dances during her briefings. Jimmydhu: Jimmy Clare and Jimmy Iain The hall was bathed in orange light which accentuated the colours of the gingham shirts and floral dresses Loralee at the right dancing The Reel of the Royal Scots. Photo: MIriam Laidlaw Meanwhile, the Unicorn took time out for a snooze after a big feed of grain in its barn! Hogmanay on New Year’s Eve is one of the great Scottish Country Dancing occasions. Find out more about the the customs of the evening here Esther Mackay and Yvonne Gray MC’d this big night while Damon Collin from the Wellington Region led the mighty sing-along of old Scottish songs just before midnight along with his brother Simon and Philip and Helen Oliver. Aileen Logie and Jason Morris, two Wellingtonians who often play for Johnsonville Club events were joined by Anne-Marie Forsyth in the band. Popular dances (and their tunes) during the evening included Scott Meikle, Catch the Wind and The Montgomeries’ Rant. Jason Morris, Anne-Marie Forsyth and Aileen Logie played marvellous music all night including for a magnificent 32some Reel. Meanwhile the Unicorn had a bird’s-eye view of the crowded floor from the castle battlements! Loralee dancing New Year Jig in the top set. Photo: Miriam Laidlaw Johnsonville Club member Robert Vale dancing The Water of Leith with Brenda Welcoming in the New Year at the Hogmanay Ceremony: RSCDS NZ Branch President Linda Glavin, First Foot Saskia and Piper Nicole Trewavas. Photo Miriam Laidlaw Aileen Logie, Jason Morris and Anne-Marie Forsyth played again at the President’s Ball with Debbie Roxburgh as MC. Being a formal evening with drinks with the RSCDS Branch President Linda Glavin to start, followed by a Grand March, the Unicorn shrunk down to a miniature and nestled quietly between the MC’s lectern and the RSCDS Centenary banner all night. Spot the well-behaved Unicorn! Photo: Miriam Laidlaw Grand March: Loralee and Aileen Logie met-up in the middle as they formed their two-couple row! Photo: Miriam Laidlaw The President’s Ball dances and music that appealed included The Sailor, The White Heather Jig (an oldie that’s not danced often enough these days!) and The Gentleman. Loralee at the right dancing The Gentleman. Photo: Miriam Laidlaw Glenfiddle together with members from Lynne Scott’s Musicians’ Class (including Lee, Cassandra and Brenda from Wellington) filled the stage on the Closing Night. Their rousing renditions of the music for the programme of dances, briefed by MC Damon Collin, included old favourites Miss Gibson’s Strathspey, Seton’s Ceilidh Band and The Deil Amang the Tailors. Closing Night: Glenfiddle and members of the Musicians’ Class played wonderful music for the dancers. Photo: Miriam Laidlaw Tired out after a week of dancing, the Unicorn nodded contentedly in time to the music from the castle on the stage. Loralee and fellow Johnsonville Club member Robert Vale dancing as fourth couple in Easy Peasy Rights and Lefts, devised by Wellington devisor Gaye Collin. To finish off a marvellous week, we all took hands and sang Auld Lang Syne, already thinking about meeting old friends and making new ones at the next Summer School in Nelson. Thanks so much to Liz Hickey and her committee for organising this Summer School in the midst of a pandemic, and to the tutors, musicians, MCs, gophers, drivers, photographers and others who helped make this such a successful get-together. See all my photos here and feel free to download if you wish. Loralee Hyde20 January 2023 All photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted [...] Read more...
Wellington turned on exceptional weather for the club’s 2022 Christmas lunch at Café Thyme on 14 December, and nineteen of us lingered over lunch with the last of us leaving after 3pm! For the first time since the 2017 Christmas Lunch, we were able to sit outside and enjoy lunch in the open air. Sunhats were the order of the day, and we appropriated two concrete-based sun umbrellas from the other side of the outdoor courtyard – with the help of a burly bystander. Lots of chatter at our Christmas lunch in the sun The event was not untouched by Covid. Some of our members were unable to attend due to either having covid, or their family members being affected. The café too was impacted, with both chefs out of action. I received a text early in the morning to say menu offerings would be limited by lack of kitchen staff. Nevertheless, café workers rallied around and we all had plenty of choice from the ‘starred’ menu options. Many thanks to owner Jackie, and her staff for their fantastic efforts under difficult conditions. Best dressed for Christmas was Deborah S, with her red and green tartan bow and bauble-earrings, but Mandy’s sparkly sandals came in a close second. There were lots of colourful summer dresses, and a smattering of red and green, while I completely forgot to dress to theme, and my collection of Santa brooches will have to wait till next year for their annual outing. It was a pleasure to have the time to sit and chat off the dance floor, and learn more about each other. As one of our committee members commented at a recent meeting, “I’m in favour of any opportunity to socialise with fellow club members”, and socialise we did! Thanks to all the early-birds (David, Liz H, Liz R, Maura and Veronica) who came along to help colonise our tables, and repel occasional attempted boarders. Nice to see two of this year’s new dancers joining us, as well as many of the ‘old hands’. In fact, all of our longest-standing members from the 1980s were there – Aline and John H, John M, and Liz R. Plus two from the early 90s – Loralee and Kristin. Rod, still a worker for a little longer (despite recently joining the Gold Card club), was the only one who couldn’t be there. Club photographer Loralee was once again in action recording our happy memories and smiling faces. Click the gallery below to view her colourful photos of this year’s relaxing Christmas lunch. Kristin Downey18 December 2022 [...] Read more...
Monday 28 November was a very good night. Thirty-five Johnsonville members and ten keen visitors made for a full floor of dancers, with our tutor Rod Downey in charge of giving us a night of friendship and fun to end our dancing year. Members were as willing as ever, turning up early to set out chairs, string up tartan bunting, and put up programme posters and tartan rugs to create a festive feeling. Prisilla and Maura stringing up the club’s tartan bunting It was really nice to see some of our covid-affected dancers returning to the dance floor, and it was especially pleasing to see four of this year’s new dancers doing themselves proud as they celebrated their first year as Scottish country dancers. Condolences to those who couldn’t attend due to illness and injury, we did miss you. The band also had a member missing due to illness, but Lynne Scott and Cassandra Bahr did an excellent job as a duo, and James Scott worked his magic with the sound system to bring out the best of the musicians, and the hall acoustics. We danced to toe-tapping music from Cassandra Bahr and Lynne Scott Rod is always quite ambitious for us. He devised a programme with a mix of easier and more challenging dances, ensuring there was never a dull moment. And even though Blue Bonnets was the only one of the thirteen dances that wasn’t walked, Rod kept us up to pace and we finished the full programme exactly at 10pm. Dancing The Wind that Shakes the Barley with Rod keeping a close eye on proceedings The Australian Ladies, one of the more challenging dances Although this year was much less covid-disrupted than the past two years, it did affect our social events. The club’s Summer Ceilidh was cancelled, and the rescheduled Mid-Winter Summer Social was a pot-luck affair rather than the usual catered event. In recognition of this, the committee wanted to make Final Night that little bit more special for our members. Entry was free, and Allison Kay and Kristin organised supper treats, so members didn’t have to ‘bring a plate’. There were delicious cakes from Arobake (yum), sausage rolls, Indian mini-samosa and pakora, chocolate brownies, and healthy fresh strawberries to balance it all out. Supper Co-ordinator Elizabeth Ngan created a display of tempting Lindt chocolate truffles, skilfully sliced the cakes into ever-such-slender serves, and had everything ready just when it was needed. Once everyone was revived with supper and a hot drink, we paused the chit-chat to officially award Honorary Life Membership to club member Loralee Hyde. You can read her commendation here Club President Kristin Downey outlined the more than 30 years of service Loralee has given to Johnsonville club, with special recognition of her contributions in photography and digital communications, above and beyond the call of duty. Loralee received her certificate of Honorary Life Membership from Kristin, to congratulatory applause. Honorary Life Member Loralee Hyde with Kristin and Rod Downey. Photo: Allison Kay Later in the evening, Kristin thanked tutor Rod Downey for another year of tutoring at Johnsonville, for the effort he puts in to bring us good times on the dance floor every week. He too received very well-deserved applause. It was a great night of dancing, music, supper and good company, and its success was down to everyone who did their bit on the night and throughout the year. Thank you all. Some of our newer dancers took to the floor with the more experienced to dance The Triumph Click on the gallery below to enjoy all of Loralee’s photos, recording the good times at our 2022 Tartan and Final Night. Kristin Downey1 December 2022 All photos by Loralee Hyde except where noted Download the Tartan and Final Night 2022 Programme [...] Read more...
Loralee Hyde in the centre with Johnsonville President Kristin Downey and tutor Rod Downey, was awarded Honorary Life Membership of Johnsonville Club on 28 November 2022. Photo: Allison Kay Rod and I have known Loralee since we started dancing in 1991, and she has been increasingly involved in supporting Johnsonville club activities across the last 30 years or so. Apart from time living overseas, Loralee has been a Johnsonville club member since at least 1993 (the earliest date recorded), and was dancing at the club prior to that while still a member of Ngaio club. She was Club President in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and under her stewardship club membership increased from 27 in 1997, to 50 in 2000. Loralee encouraged the relaxed and informal atmosphere that we continue to enjoy in the club today, with mixing between newer and experienced dancers, and an emphasis on having fun. 1999: Loralee at the right when she was Club President, at a club potluck dinner before the AGM Loralee has also served the club in many other capacities during the last 30 years, even though she hasn’t been able to dance regularly in the last few years. Although not official roles, they are integral to building the club’s membership and its sense of community, as well as providing support for the club’s ability to operate effectively. Photography Loralee’s most visible role is as club photographer. She’s taken photos at club events over many years, as far back as 1991, and at Wellington Region events such as Hogmanays and New Dancers’ Celebrations where she manages to capture as many club members as possible dancing at these evenings. She also takes photos of club members as required for newspaper articles, the newsletter, the website etc. You will see Loralee’s photos accompanying newsletter items, in articles posted on the club website and Facebook, and in the Wellington Region newsletter, Harbour City Happenings. Whenever I’m writing any sort of historical article about the club or our people, I am able to call on Loralee to provide a photo from her vast collection. 2016: Loralee the photographer is photographed at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration. Photo: John Patterson Loralee also employs her photo editing skills to help enhance the photos she and others take – cropping photos to show the subjects to best advantage, scanning printed photos in high quality, improving the light or clarity, and resizing photos so they’re suitable for publication. Behind the scenes Loralee has taken on the role of photographic archivist – at the end of each year she backs up all the club photos that she has taken that year (or received from others), onto an external hard drive. We now have an archive of over 2000 photos. For the club’s 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016, Loralee not only took photos on the night, she curated a collection of archival photos which were displayed as a video presentation at the event. This was a huge amount of work, and was a very special feature of the celebrations. 2016: Dancers at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration watching the photo show produced by Loralee . Photo: John Patterson 2016: Loralee with a presentation from the club for the communications work she did for the 50 Golden Years Celebration – photography, design and developing the club website Then during lockdown in 2020, Loralee broadened her scope, taking on some video-recording to illustrate Rod’s website articles on practising dancing. These continue to prove useful, especially for the club’s new dancers. (For example, this year, the Talking about reels page was one of the most-viewed posts at the time when Rod was teaching reels.) Digital communications Loralee’s professional background in communications and marketing has been of great value to the club. Facebook page Loralee set up the club’s Facebook page in 2014, a first foray for the club into social media, allowing us to increase our club profile, and promote beginners’ classes and club events more widely. Club website Two years later, in 2016, Loralee was responsible for setting up the club website, which really has made a huge difference in our digital presence. It provides a central point of information for club members, relating to events, dancing resources and news. It is also a historical repository. Website statistics from 2017 to the present show large increases in the number of visitors each year (rising from 1531 to 3937), and number of views (4365 to 9808). It is clear the website provides a great service to our members, and many others. The website really came into its own during Covid, keeping members engaged and informed when we were unable to dance. In 2020, there were almost 11,000 views of the website from more than 3000 visitors. Loralee continues to maintain the website, restructuring it as required, and updating the calendar, beginners, membership, and ‘about us’ pages. She also posts all the articles that appear on the website, involving formatting text, and supplying, editing and inserting photos. Her design skills are employed in beginners’ class advertising, poster design for beginners’ classes and dance programmes, and designing promotional material for other events such as the club’s mid-winter dinners. She also develops online forms for event registration and club membership, making club operations more effective and efficient. 2015: Loralee as photographer at Johnsonville club’s first mid-winter dinner and dance – A Bright Mid-winter Night (Photo: Pat Reesby) and the event poster she designed. Loralee also writes articles for the club website and for Harbour City Happenings, mainly historical photo stories about special events club members have participated in over the years such as Hogmanays, and tributes to those who have contributed to Scottish Country Dancing in the Wellington Region. Mailchimp newsletters 2019: Part of Johnsonville club’s first Mailchimp newsletter in July 2019 In 2019 Loralee suggested we create special e-newsletters to inform and encourage new dancers in particular, to attend the Annual Dance. She created a template and edited Mailchimp newsletters over four weeks, resulting in a very successful event with a large turnout of both newer and experienced dancers. Based on this success, Loralee went on to develop the Mailchimp template which has become standard for the club’s weekly newsletters. Initially she also edited the newsletters, later training John Homes and me, and continues to give ongoing support. The club has received many compliments regarding the professionalism and presentation of the newsletter. Altogether, Loralee averages 75-100 hours a year of work on the club’s behalf, and during covid lockdown in 2020, that increased to almost 130 hours loading articles onto the website to keep dancers engaged and informed when club dancing was not possible. There are now 258 articles on the website, which along with Loralee’s photos, provide a valuable historical record of the friendship and fun we have at Johnsonville club. 2017: One of Loralee’s favourite photos in the club photographic archive. At our Vikings & Celts of Johnsonville Midwinter fun, feast and frolicking event – with three club photographers present; Loralee, John Patterson and Pat Reesby. Thank you Loralee for your long and active support of the club through digital communication and photography, beyond the call of duty. Kristin DowneyClub President28 November 2022 See more about Loralee’s life time of photography [...] Read more...
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