Downey Day of Dance: York 2018

Johnsonville Club tutor Rod Downey visited the UK again this year and taught a day school on 1 July for the RSCDS York and North Humberside Branch.

The school was at Stillington Village Hall – a pretty hall with a lovely wood floor. The third Downey Day of Dance since 2012, Rod taught mostly dances he had devised, plus a couple of New Zealand favourites. He also took the opportunity to play recordings of Johnsonville musician Peter Elmes and his various bands over the years.

After last year’s York day school, Rod devised A Trip to York (see his Johnsonville Collection) to commemorate teaching there, and brought it back to teach to this year’s dancers. This year, a three hour delay at Karlsruhe Baden Baden airport (courtesy of Ryanair), gave Rod the time to devise a new dance en route. He named the dance Helen Brown in honour of the organiser of the York day school.

Rod teaching the world premiere of the dance Helen Brown to Helen’s set

Helen was also our hostess, so she got to choose the music the night before, then dance it next day at the class. See the instructions for the dance Helen Brown in The Golden Bear Collection.

Helen has a longstanding involvement in dancing in the York area. She is Chair of York Club, Secretary of York and Humberside Branch, and tutored a team dancing at the White Rose Festival 2018 at Leeds. This is an occasion of massed dance, and for many UK dancers it is the culmination of the dance season. This year, there was a Wellington connection with Iain Boyd’s dance The Cashmere Shawl, and Rod’s dance Jenny Freeman’s Strathspey on the programme.

Rod with Malcolm and Helen at the end of the class

The Brown family is a very ‘dancing’ family. Helen’s husband Malcolm Brown is a well known tutor both in the UK and overseas, and is the current Convenor of the RSCDS Education and Branch Training Committee at HQ in Edinburgh.

Malcolm is also a dance deviser, with one of his dances Boxing the Compass included on the White Rose Festival programme this year. Son Duncan Brown continues the family tradition of Scottish country dancing, with his dance The Zoologist on the programme as well. You’ll get to meet him if you’re attending the RSCDS NZ Branch Summer School 2018/2019 – he will be teaching the very advanced high impact class.

By Kristin Downey, 19 July 2018

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