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The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society

Issue 10, 29 May 2020

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Welcome to this our 10th edition of Dance Scottish At Home – something the DSAH team feel we should all celebrate. Who knew when we started that we’d have 10 issues but we will keep going as long as there is a need for DSAH. At this time, we all need reasons to celebrate, so join us in raising a wee glass of virtual fizz to DSAH!
 
It’s fantastic seeing your weekly comments – Margaret Silke in Queensland shared that the classes are a useful tool to keep her dancing muscles supple while the information from DSAH is great to share with her class, encouraging them to subscribe; Margaret Peace of the Milford Club in Auckland told us that she rolls out of bed just before 6am to join in the classes and find them a great way to start the day; while Susan Mackenzie of the Inverness Branch enjoys the varied content in each DSAH and Bill Brown of Twin Cities is loving that the RSCDS has welcomed the 21st century with DSAH.  Mary McFarlane of the West Lothian Branch got in touch to say “Another great podcast and lots of interesting information in the newsletter. The tie-in from one week to the next is neatly done - continuing themes from one week to the next. I look forward to the e-mail arriving in my inbox every Friday.”

Thank you all for your feedback – we are doing our best to reflect what you want to see and hear each week in your newsletter, so please continue to get in touch via the feedback button at the bottom of DSAH.
 
In this week’s issue we have a special jigsaw for you as we reveal the artistic talents of a well known RSCDS teacher, while in the At Home Podcast, Jane Meikle from RSCDS Dumfries shares a musical flowers and gardens quiz.  

Thanks to all those who are sharing Dance Scottish At Home through Facebook and Twitter using the buttons at the top of DSAH as well as sharing the link on the RSCDS Dance Scottish Facebook page.  On Wednesday, it was great to hear from those who had joined the class via links sent by friends – keep sharing as that is what DSAH is all about.  You can connect the wider dancing community to DSAH through the RSCDS website, while clicking the Forward button to email the newsletter to friends, affiliated club members and the wider dance community will help keep us all in touch until we can dance together again.
 
The DSAH Team

In this issue

At Home Podcasts

Join Ian Muir for a new edition of the “At Home Podcasts” delivering a wealth of music and musical nuggets to listen to. Something new, a dance story and a Guest Album of the week as well as lots of music to keep your toes tapping.

In this week’s “At Home Podcast” David Oswald and his Scottish Dance Band share two new tracks, and we explore the story of the popular strathspey “The City of Belfast”. Scott Band is here to share his “Guest Album of the Week” and there’s a second musical quiz inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show which should have taken place last week.
Listen online here >

Keep your requests and dedications flowing to Gary Innes and the BBC Radio Scotland team.  Take the Floor on Saturday evening will share a favourite session from the James Coutts Scottish Dance Band. James has picked an Outside Broadcast recorded in the Pittencrieff Glen Pavilion in Dunfermline from 1998 – so we can look forward to dancing in the kitchen to his favourite tracks including a set of 2/4 Marches for a Canadian Barn Dance and the Black Mountain Reel.  If you listen on both Saturday and Sunday evenings, you’ll hopefully hear some familiar names with their requests to Gary and the team at BBC Radio Scotland. Last week it was great to hear all the mentions of June Templeman and the dancing in Pitlochry, leading everyone up to dancing “Perth 800” to the music of Frank Thomson and his Scottish Dance Band.
Take the Floor Ceilidh is live on a Sunday between 17:00 and 19:00.  So phone or email your favourite dances, musicians, bands and tracks to: takethefloor@bbc.co.uk or phone 08085 929500 but please be aware the phone line will only work while the programme is live.  Both programmes can be found on BBC iPlayer and on BBC Sounds.
What's Behind The Name?
Sueno’s Stone – Four Dances for 2008 (Neil M Grant)
Original Tune – Craigieford (Dennis Morrison)
Written by Peter Knapman, Convenor of Membership Services Committee

 
Amazing art work, a lost language, an ancient battle
 The dance devised by Neil Grant, Sueno’s Stone leads to an ancient kingdom, a mysterious culture and an important battle in Scotland’s history.
You can explore the stone in more detail by examining this 3D computer model of Sueno’s Stone created by Historic Environment Scotland.   
The Picts
The Sueno Stone is just one of many Pictish symbol stones, but who were the Picts? Despite an increased understanding in recent years, the Picts remain a mysterious people. They left no written records of who they were or what language they spoke – the only ‘written’ information we have about them came from the Picts themselves with their symbol stones. The earliest Pictish carved stones date from the 6th to 8th Centuries and include no Christian symbols. The symbols on these earliest stones cover a set of images many of which are unique to Pictish art. There are approximately sixty different types covering geometric symbols and outline representations of animals – including some mythical animals.
The later symbol stones date from the 8th and 9th Centuries, normally with one side of the stone containing a ringed cross and the opposing side Pictish symbols.  The symbols on some of the stones depict a narrative story, often associated with a battle. In total it is estimated that there are at least 350 Pictish symbol stones or stone fragments and, whilst most are located in the North and East of Scotland, their distribution covers a wider area.
The first mention of the Picts comes from the Romans with the descriptive word meaning ‘painted people’. It is generally accepted that the Picts were descendants of the Ancient Britons and as they were not a single tribe it is possible that they may have spoken more than one language. However, in many parts of ‘Pictland’ they would have spoken a Brittonic (‘P’) Celtic language related to Welsh (and Breton) as there are many ‘P’ Celtic derived place names in that part of modern Scotland.  The most obvious examples are the ‘Aber’ and ‘Pit’ names in places such as Aberdeen, Abernethy, Pitlochry and Pittenweem, but places such as Perth and Cupar are also derived from ‘P’ Celtic roots. Whilst all this may make a lot of sense it does not explain everything. The distribution of the ‘P’ Celtic names and the distribution of the Pictish symbol stones don’t fully match up – the stones cover a much wider area and the concentration of names does not match the concentration of the stones. 
 
An Ancient Battle
We may not know which battle Sueno’s Stone depicts but we do know that the Picts were involved in a battle in May 685 that arguably changed the history of these islands. The Battle of Nechtanemere, also known as The Battle of Dun Nechtain.
 
In the period immediately prior to the battle the Picts were being threatened by the Kingdom of Northumbria to the south, which was attempting to exert its authority over neighbouring territories to gain power and influence. The Northumbrians had dominated large parts of the Picts southern territory and also had dominance over the tribes of Strathclyde. Following a victory over the Picts in 672, the Northumbrian King Ecgfrith put in place policies that demanded the Picts paid tribute to the Northumbrian Kingdom. However, when the Pictish king Brude came to power he decided he had no interest in paying tribute to his southern neighbours and concentrated on consolidating his power and influence in the north and west. By 683 King Brude controlled land that extended from the Northern Isles down to the Forth in the south - he now only had to concern himself with the Northumbrian advance. 

The attack came in May 685. By feigning retreat, the Picts under Brude lured the Northumbrians deeper into Pictish territory using the local topography to trap their enemy. Whilst we cannot be certain it is now generally agreed that the battle took place near Dunnichen Hill, in Angus, 12 miles north of Dundee. The battle was decisive with King Ecgfrith being killed along with many other Northumbrians, marking an end to the period of Northumbrian expansion, freeing the Picts and Scots from Northumbrian domination and securing their borders. The battle is considered to have created the circumstances which led to the foundation of Scotland and is seen to be one of the most important events in Scottish history. The story of the battle is depicted on the reverse side of a Pictish stone that is in the graveyard of Aberlemno church (4 miles north of Dunnichen).
Following this battle the Picts would have been the dominant power in the north of Britain, with an extensive system of hill forts - including Dunnottar mentioned in last week’s article on the Scottish Honours.  The Norse raids from 790 onwards may have weakened the Picts leaving the door open for political opportunists, resulting in Kenneth MacAlpin seizing control of the Pictish kingdom in 843.  He was already a minor ruler in the Scots territory of Dal Riata in the west but by the time of his death he ruled the joint kingdom, which lead to the formation of the kingdom of Scotland. What is fascinating is that sometime during this period the term Pict just disappeared and became absorbed into what was the smaller territory of the Scots – maybe we really live in Pictland!

The Thursday Challenge

Share your dance stories with our weekly Thursday Challenge using the hashtag #ThursdayChallenge.
This week we asked for your “Musical memories” – and Lesley McCourt has memories from the many musicians courses at Summer School that she has taken part in. Lots of us have memories of seeing crowded rooms full of instruments, hearing afternoon sessions with music wafting along the hallway to the RSCDS shop and office, and most of all of the superb Saturday night musicians’ course band.

Tom Halpenny shared his favourite piece of music: "A quality that really helps the popularity of a dance is excellent music that accompanies the dancing. A popular dance has great music that plays in our mind after we have danced. "The Cranberry Tart" is one of our popular dances.” Head to the RSCDS Dance Scottish Facebook page to find out more from Tom.

Margaret Highet from the York and North Humberside Branch contacted DSAH to say:
“I love the Lochalsh Reel played by Colin Dewar. It brings back happy memories of the Skye Weekend. Often beautiful weather in Skye at the end of May and we have taken trips on the Elgol ferry. Sometimes going onto The Uists and Harris, and enjoying fantastic beaches. This a great lively dance and whenever I am in charge of a programme for the York club, I put this dance on. It seems to be popular.”

What's next?

So, onto this week’s challenge and hopefully a similar experience for many of us: mention that you dance Scottish to new acquaintances and the first question they ask is: “When is your next performance?”
Then it's for you to explain that Scottish dancing is social and therefore really about doing it, not watching it, and would that person not like to come along to a class sometimes. Or you're lucky and your local dance group really will dance publicly in the near future. Then invite your new friend, hoping to make the best impression.
For this week's Thursday Challenge, we'd like to know about performances that you took part in. When was that? Who did you dance with, who did you dance for? How did it go? Do you have photos, or maybe even a video clip?
Social Media Round Up
This week a Twitter post leads to a 19th Century connection, Scottish Ballet connects with the NHS and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra join forces for a remote Eightsome Reel. 
This fantastic black and white sketch was shared on Twitter this week by Scottish Dance Art @scotdanceinart. It depicts the Highlanders’ Black Watch Ball in Glasgow from the 20th May 1882 – nearly 140 years ago. There’s so much detail in the sketch and the longwise set dancing is definitely the focal point of the image. A bit more research led to finding that this is an original antique print from “The Graphic” – a weekly 19th and early 20th century newspaper reporting details of local, UK and worldwide events and stories – now what does that remind you of?

Having said that, The Graphic had some phenomenal writers – George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and Anthony Trollope to name just a few. First published in 1869, The Graphic was distributed on a Saturday at the price of sixpence, devoting much of its attention to literature, arts, science, sport and music, and was available weekly until 1932.  A regular column feature was also The Fastest Girl on Earth covering “A woman’s right to motor” – what would The Graphic be writing about today?
 
Possibly they’d be covering Scottish Ballet’s new work with the NHS Scotland to deliver fortnightly exercise sessions for on-duty NHS and Social Care staff. “Health at Hand” is aimed at individuals or groups and is available on Scottish Ballet’s YouTube Channel – primarily bringing the benefits of dance and physical activity to those working to care for our communities. These 10 minute sessions help relax, rejuvenate, energise and restore – feelings we all need just now – and are available for all to enjoy.
While you are on your feet, why not take a partner (real or ghost) and join the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for a virtual Eightsome Reel. This week, the orchestra has gone back to its Scottish roots, recording remotely and at home with the BBC SSO players who can be found indoors, outdoors, with pets and dancing while playing – there’s even a touch of Hoedown! 
On this day in Scots history
Written by Angela Young, Membership Services Committee.
May 29th, St Andrew, a Thistle, the Scots phrase “Wha daur meddle wi me?” and the RSCDS Patron, Queen Elizabeth – seemingly unconnected but drawn together by one common thread -  The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, an order of chivalry bestowed on those who have made an outstanding contribution to the life of Scotland and the greater United Kingdom.
First the date – 29th May 1687, the day when James VII (II of England) published a decree re-establishing and reviving the Order of the Thistle.
Various stories surround the original order – an alliance in 809 between the Scots King Achaius and Emperor Charlemagne or an institution established by Robert the Bruce after Bannockburn are two such stories – but no hard facts support them. However there is no doubt that James VII resurrected the order in 1687 to recognise those who supported him politically and shared his Catholic faith.
Next St Andrew – declared patron saint of Scotland in the early 14th century after Robert the Bruce’s victory over the English at Bannockburn in 1314, earlier appearances can be seen of St Andrew and his Cross with legends dating back to 347AD and the saint’s relics being shipwrecked on the coast of Fife.
Saint Andrew is seen prominently in the Order’s insignia, in the form of an enamelled gold badge with a halo of golden rays around his head.
The Thistle – a symbol of Scottish heraldry for over 500 years and Scotland’s national emblem. Legends also surround the thistle – did it save Scotland from invaders with bare feet or shock ambushers trying to creep up on sleeping Scots? Who knows? But the thistle has featured on royal heraldry since the mid 15th century and was found on coins from that time.
 
“Wha daur meddle wi me?” – in Latin “Nemo me impune lacessit” and in English “No one provokes me with impunity” or “No one can harm me unpunished” - this is the Scots version of the adopted motto of the Order. Having also been the Latin motto of the Royal Stuart dynasty, it is still that of 3 Scottish regiments of the British Army.
 
Queen Elizabeth, the RSCDS Patron, made her mark in 1987 by being the first to allow women regularly to be admitted to the Order. Following on from her father’s decision to change the privilege from being given for political patronage to an award for true merit, the Queen appointed Mrs Marion Fraser, the then Director of St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh to be the first Lady of the Order in 1996. Originally made up of the Sovereign and 12 Knights, the Order is now comprised of the Queen with 16 Knights and Ladies, alongside 3 Extra Knights and 1 Extra Lady. These extra members are all of the Royal Family – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay; Prince William, Earl of Strathearn and Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.
 
Every other year in Scotland at this time of year, the Queen, Knights and Ladies can be seen at the Order of the Thistle service at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, celebrating the highest honour of chivalry in Scotland while recognising men and women for their public service. The last service was in 2018, when the Knights in full regalia processed to the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle for the Service creating an impressive sight with striking green velvet robes, glistening insignia and white plumed hats.
Dance Puzzles Part One
It’s time for another DSAH jigsaw and this week we have a very special image with a painting by a well known RSCDS teacher. But can you guess who the talented artist is?
Can you also identify the well known location?
All will be revealed next week when we share the completed image.
Hopefully you’ve now found the online jigsaw timer, so make sure you note your completion time and send it to us to enter into the jigsaw league.
We enjoy seeing how long you take to complete the pictures – and of course, finding out who was fastest!
Well done to all the puzzlers who spotted that last week’s jigsaw image was the iconic Dunnottar Castle, just outside Stonehaven in the North East of Scotland – Lynn Bekkers, Mary Bridson, Sharon Burleigh, Marjorie McLaughlin, Deirdre MacCuish Bark, Fiona Millar and, Fiona Newton, – you were all spot on! Rochelle Mullis of the Northern Virginia Branch asked if this was the castle used in the filming of the first Highlander movie. Rochelle, we’ve done some checking and it doesn’t appear so, however Dunnottar Castle has been used for both films and TV series, with the 1990 version of Hamlet and the 2013 film about Mary Queen of Scots using the castle location. It has also featured in a Pixar animation, being one of the dramatic cliff top inspirations for children’s favourite Brave.
Back to the jigsaw – and we’ve had a great number of puzzle times sent in with a really competitive section of timings around the 7 minute mark. And it was a very close run thing for top place, with Stan and Clair’s entries arriving within 15 minutes of each other. Stan, did say he had been fuelled by copious amounts of chocolate to reach his speedy time of 4 minutes 46.6 seconds, but unfortunately he was still pipped at the post by Clair Caudwell – who beat him by 15.2 seconds, holding on to her place at the top of the jigsaw league.
RSCDS Online Class
Travel round the world with the RSCDS as each week a different RSCDS Teacher in a different location brings you an online class. The sessions will bring you a mixture of movement, warm up, technique, steps and dances with material for beginners to advanced dancers while providing a regular opportunity to dance and chat with members around the world.
Once again over 1,250 dancers joined this week’s RSCDS online class with Atsuko Clement, teaching from Japan. Atsuko has been in Japan since the current situation escalated and is hoping to finally travel back to Edinburgh soon. Her class came from Ichikawa, in the Chiba Region on the East side of Tokyo. The photos below show how near Tokyo is – including the Edo River ferry crossing which Atsuko says has been running for over 100 years.
Atsuko took dancers through a warm up and steps leading them to dance The Threesome Reel from RSCDS Book 6 – this time danced as a solo dance. It was great to see feedback arrive throughout the class and we’ll be sure to pass all your thanks on to Atsuko.
 
This week we did run a session before the class to help those with technical issues. We will repeat this next week – so please log on early if you have technical questions. If you need more support, please contact us through the DSAH feedback button and we will do everything possible to help you further.
 
You can catch up with this week’s class and some of the comments here.
This is an online recording at a low resolution to enable us to share the class quickly and in a format everyone can download. It will mean some moments may not be quite in time but we hope that doesn’t stop your enjoyment and participation in the class.
 
Classes are held at 19:00 BST every Wednesday.
Join next week, on Wednesday 3rd June, to find out who the mystery teacher is, where they are and what they have in store for you.
 
Link to join RSCDS Online Class:
https://zoom.us/j/780126836
 
Hosting the class as a webinar and sharing the link through Dance Scottish At Home and email manages concerns around hosting events on Zoom. We are continuing to monitor this and doing everything we can to make this a secure environment for all. 
Beyond The Class And Newsletter
Following the request for musical memories, Margaret Gibb from Headquaters has been in touch to share this fantastic photo of Jimmy Shand and his band at Larkhill in the 1950s.  
Margaret went on to tell how this memory was brought back to mind:
“Forward many decades later and we were hosting two members of an Austrian Folk Dance group. Also staying with us was Sheena Sturrock, who told us she had been talking to Jimmy Shand Junior the previous week, who was putting together a book of tunes his father had written for different people over the years.  Sheena very kindly sent us a copy as soon as it was published and included was the tune ‘Queenie of Larkhill’."
 
Of course, we’ll now be looking out for that tune – and if you do have any more class, dance or musical memories to share, please do get in touch so we can share them in DSAH.
It is fantastic to see the names and places as dancers and members from all over the world sign in to the RSCDS Online Class. As promised, we are highlighting some of those on our DSAH map, gradually sharing where those 1,250 weekly sign ins can be found.
This week joining our teacher Atsuko in Japan were:
Sandra Beardsall saying Hi from Saskatoon in Saskatchewan;
Josep Centelles, who was among those commenting on the weather, to say it was hot in Barcelona;
Margaret in Auckland, New Zealand – where it was cold and dark!
Taisiia Demicheva, who said Hello from sunny St Petersburg;
And Mary Black in Banchory who especially wanted to say Hi to Katie Bell in Port Appin.
We look forward to seeing where you join from next week.
Dance Puzzles Part Two
Keep your brains moving with our Dance Puzzles and please get in touch if you have a Dance Scottish At Home puzzle to share – crossword, wordsearch, missing words, missing vowels – this is the space for your dancing conundrums.
More fortnightly anagrams to tease your brains and this week Stan has put together some monumental anagrams. But don’t worry, they’re not difficult - they’re just based on monuments! They are presented below or view them here.
Last Week’s Solutions
We hope you enjoyed our first DSAH crossword– did you solve all the dance titles?
The solutions are presented below.
Thanks to Diana Hastie of the Sydney Branch for our first crossword – look out for another crossword from Diana soon. In the meantime, would you like to try your hand at coming up with a dancing puzzle for Dance Scottish At Home? Then, send in your ideas by clicking “Have Your Say” at the bottom of the newsletter.
RSCDS News
Just a reminder that you can purchase a selection of eMusic and eBooks by visiting our Digital Collection webpage. Many RSCDS recordings are available to buy online via Amazon, iTunes and Spotify, and we are continuing to work on expanding the list of our digital books.
Sueno’s Stone, referred to above, is available with the Magazine Dances 2005 – 2009.

 Please visit our digital collection shop and browse our range of digital products to discover what’s available.
We start to look ahead to future issues of DSAH, sharing our ideas and themes so that you can get involved sending us stories, photos and content. Issue 11 will bring another “What’s Behind The Name?” and we start to expand our Thursday Challenge ideas.
Of course, we still want to see your jigsaw timings, as well as your ideas for what you want to see and hear in your weekly newsletter - click the link below to get in touch with DSAH.
 
For now, stay safe and we’ll be back with Dance Scottish At Home next week.
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