Pat Reesby: A lifetime of filming

Pat was a member of Johnsonville Club from 2009 until 2019 and continues to be very involved in the Scottish Country Dancing community.

She has taken on the responsibility of organising Tuesday daytime dancing at St John’s Church hall, dancing there and at Tawa Club. She is also a keen attendee at classes, Saturday night dances, weekend schools and summer dancing outdoors.

Pat dancing at the Wellington Region 1920s Ball in 2014 with Johnsonville members Rod Downey, Loralee Hyde and Kristin Downey

Pat has also attended New Zealand Summer Schools and danced overseas as part of her travels. This has given her many opportunities to record dances locally, nationally and internationally. Her YouTube channel now has over 200 video recordings of Scottish country dances.

As with photographers, videographers record our memories and create a history of the Scottish Country Dancing community, its people, places and events. Johnsonville Club is very fortunate Pat has captured so many special club events on video, for us to look back on in years to come.

As well as creating a historical record, videos also serve another purpose – they help people understand the dances visually and are especially useful for learning new or unusual formations. Pat’s videos have helped many a nervous dancer feel more confident on the night!

Videography is not the only way in which Pat has contributed to the Club’s history. During her time at Johnsonville, she put in many hours of research producing a booklet Notes for a history of the Johnsonville Scottish Country Dance Club, greatly expanding our knowledge of the Club’s past. Thank you Pat.

At the Johnsonville 60 Years of Dancing celebration in 2015, President Kristin Downey presented Pat (Club Secretary at the time) with a brightly flowering thank-you-kalanchoe in recognition of her many hours of research into the Club’s history

Pat tells us below about how she came to be an Scottish Country Dancing videographer, with her videos on two Scottish Country Dancing databases – the Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary and Strathspey Server.

Kristin Downey

Dancing videography

I was born in the 1940s and because my father was a keen photographer and I had no brothers and sisters, I was soon fed up with having to pose for the camera.

Pat in a photo taken by her father. She seems to remember he planned to enter the photo in a Health Stamp competition. But if he did, it didn’t win!

Dad had both a Leica and Rolleiflex … and for a while, a Super-8 movie camera. Some years ago I had his old cine film transferred to a VHS tape and could watch my forgotten childhood self riding a bike around the clothesline, and even dancing some sort of jig. (No sound, of course, and I don’t know what I thought I was doing, as I didn’t go to dance classes of any sort.)

For a special treat, click the video to watch early footage of Pat riding her bike and dancing (at 2:23 minutes), in amongst family excerpts
An image from the video of Pat dancing as a child at her family home in Westown, New Plymouth

Around 1993 I bought a video camera. It used VHS tape which eventually became redundant with the advent of digital technology. I roamed around the city with it, annoying my children by turning up unexpectedly to film them at work or videoing a cousin to send to long lost relations. I filmed the antics of a family dog on Lyall Bay beach, and then took the camera to the 2002-2003 Summer School in Christchurch where I did some random filming.

My video camera died. In 2012 I bought a new ‘still’ camera. I had no idea that it would also take movies until one day I went to take a photo … and pushed the wrong button. Amazing!

In June that year I was in Newtonmore, Scotland when I attended a Saturday night dance at the Village Hall and tried filming an all men’s set dancing Reel of the 51st Division … just a minute or two as I had no idea how long the batteries or memory card would last.

But this ability to capture both movement and sound made video well suited to Scottish Country Dancing, I realised. And many people learn best if they can watch the pattern of a dance.

Home again, I filmed a few more dances … and discovered YouTube. And then I saw that a dance I’d filmed was on the Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary website. How had it got there? Emails with Reuben Freemantle (one of the authors of the site) followed, and I learned he was keen to feature videos of dances which didn’t already have them. A challenge! The Strathspey Server website also started to feature a few dances I’d filmed.

My video of Glengarry Homestead, danced at Lower Hutt in 2014, is currently my most popular one, with nearly 17,000 views.

Pat videoing a dance at Johnsonville’s 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016. Photo: John Patterson

Johnsonville tutor Rod Downey gave my name to a dance he devised a few years ago, and I was chuffed to find a video of Patricia Reesby on the web – filmed by someone in Lyon, France! It seems that Australian and New Zealand dance devisors are well regarded overseas.

When a local band is playing for a dance, a video means we can not only see our musicians but hear them. We’re lucky in Wellington to have so many talented musicians, and I do like to film a dance with live music.

In between videoing dances, Pat takes the opportunity to dance – here dancing Good Hearted Glasgow at the 2019 Johnsonville & Capital City Annual Dance with musician Mary McDonald and Johnsonville Life Member John Homes

When my trusty camera died a year or two ago, I decided to buy a proper video camera, the first since my VHS days. Of course people often use their smartphones these days, but I’m a dinosaur and don’t own one.

But I’ve discovered the Animotica program and can now cut out the start and/or end of a video should that prove a good idea.

Covid-19 lockdowns have meant that many club dances have had to be cancelled this year, and I haven’t done much filming. In fact, the grandchildren have been using my video camera more than I have. On the plus side, my grandson has tried to help me with the finer points of editing with Animotica.

And I look forward to filming a few more dances as time goes on.

Pat Reesby
17 September 2020

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