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RSCDS London branch eUpdate
10 August 2020


Dear fellow dancers

As London swelters in the August heat some have managed to escape on holiday whilst the rest of us look longingly at the weather forecast, waiting for the promised thunderstorms to bring the temperature down. Deprived of our usual seasonal socialising, we welcomed the Dance Scottish at Home Summer Celebration earlier this month as a chance to immerse ourselves again in the world of dance.  The recordings of that action packed week are still available online and are detailed in the article further down this eUpdate.

Clearly none of this fabulous content happened by accident and is the result of a great deal of talent, commitment and cooperation from the various RSCDS committees and management board.  If you'd like to be involved and help RSCDS to continue these services, why not consider volunteering for one of committee and board positions?  The call for nominations is open until 12 September - more details and nomination forms available here.

Thinking ahead a few weeks and the London Branch AGM will take place via Zoom at 3pm on Saturday, 19th September.  If you have been attending the various RSCDS Dance Scottish at Home activities on Zoom you will be well accustomed to signing into Zoom webinars.  If you would welcome a little help in logging in, there will be a 'how to ' sheet available via the London branch website and we will be running a practice session at 3pm on Saturday 12 September 2020.  The AGM itself will be followed by a short programme of ceilidh items.  More information in the coming weeks but meanwhile, if you would like to know more about the ceilidh or to offer some music, dance or other item contact Simon Wales via

This is our 21st eUpdate since the beginning of COVID-19. When we began we had no idea what to expect or for how long we would be unable to dance together.  We have been delighted with the steady flow of content from fellows dancers in London and further afield. Please do keep sending your links, quizzes, favourite dance videos and memories of dancing in times past - whatever you have that you think may be of interest. Whether you have been dancing all your life or just began recently, if you're a teacher, musician, beginner, demonstration team member or simply enjoy the occasional social dance  - we'd love to hear from you.

Three of my favourite dances – Sam Schad
Following selections from David Lowe in the previous eUpdate, this edition's dances are selected by London Branch member and teacher Sam Schad.  Many of you will remember her classes, most recently at  the 2019 London Branch Day School.

"I should say at the outset that I'm not going to provide interesting historical background or facts on these dances, so if that's what you're after, read no further.  

Schiehallion - x 128 bars Medley (S64 + R 64) - Devised by Hugh A. Thurson - Book Schiehallion, No. 1

I started Scottish dancing in Hamburg (not as good as a friend of mine, who started in Kazakhstan). At my first class I watched Schiehallion, and I was amazed that people could do such a complicated dance. Two years later I was dancing it in a demonstration with the group. We were performing at a Hamburg event called British Day. It featured sheep dog trials, fish and chips, cream teas, and other quintessentially British things (including curry, still seen as quite exotic in Hamburg in the 1990s). It was a very hot day in July. We were dancing on a stage built of wooden boards placed over beer barrels. Slightly unnerving. As I tell my class, Schiehallion is one of those dances that have places in Scotland named after them. I remember the excitement when (several years later) my husband (met through Scottish dancing) pointed out Schiehallion, the fairy mountain, as we drove past. I love the way the dance builds up gradually, ending with the excitement of Schiehallion reels.

The Plantation Reel - 32 bar Reel - Devised by Tony Moretti - Pinewood Collection Vol. 2 No. 23

My husband doesn't really care for The Plantation Reel but it is always popular with the students I teach, and I just love the music. I like to use the Green Ginger recording (I also use it for the Virginia Reel at ceilidhs as it's so infectiously foot-tapping). Green Ginger and I go back a long way. When we were teenagers we all played in the Croydon Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. I was in the cello section and they sat adjacent on the front desk of the viola section. They were very competent and reliable, quiet and serious. So imagine my astonishment when, about ten years later, I went along to a London Branch Day School ceilidh and there they were on stage, fiddling away with great enthusiasm and exuberance. I have since worked with them at various classes and it is always a great pleasure. When I teach this dance to my students I always read out the last line of the instructions: The last time through, birl as you will. And then I add, sometimes people don't wait till the last time through. And my students usually don't!

The Dancing Master x 96 bar Jig - Devised by John Drewry - Scottish Country Dances - London 75th No. 13

For a jig, it's a close contest between Major Ian Stewart and The Dancing Master. I have devised quite a few dances, and even had one written for me, but none comes near the elegance of The Dancing Master, written for Bill Ireland on his retirement as teacher of the London Branch RSCDS demonstration class. It is a real dancers' dance, and just feels good as you dance it. We included it in our International Team display at the 2020 Newcastle Festival (yes, Scottish dancing was still happening in February). Our display was on the theme of the Sound of Music, and we pre-recorded the sound track on voices and instruments, using songs from the show (cleverly arranged by Jeremy Hill). For The Dancing Master we used the tune of My Favourite Things, but speeded up to make it a jig, so we didn't attempt to sing it. (James and I did perform a version of the song with Scottish dancing lyrics at a recent London Branch Day School ceilidh.) We didn't win the trophy: that went to the ever-impressive Edinburgh and East Scotland Dancers, with a stunning display on the theme of Mary Poppins. You can watch ours here . This dance also includes Schiehallion reels near the end. I remember dancing it at an Oxford Day School many years ago. My life wasn't going entirely smoothly at the time, but when it got to the Schiehallion Reels I remember thinking, This is happiness!"

Whether you have been dancing a long time or just started, please do tell us what YOUR choices would be? Email to tell us about them.

Previous weeks' selections
We've  begun to compile dances nominated in previous weeks into dance lists  on the site, with the person nominated each dance cited in the notes column.

To check out the dances nominated in the first 6 weeks  click here. For dances nominated in weeks 7 - 12 click here.  More recent nominations are shown below.
Willie Lawrence
Minister on the Loch, Farewell to Balfour Road and Countess of Dunmore’s Reel

David Lowe
Postie's Jig, The Wind on Loch Fyne and Eightsome Reel 
Jenny Kendrick
Napier's IndexButton Boy and Up in the Air
The Branch Puzzle

This week we have two jigsaws inspired by two of Sam Schad's favourite dances. Both of the images come from the Scottish Dancing Dictionary. The first shows the majestic Schiehallion a prominent mountain in Perth and Kinross, rising to a height of 1,083 metres (3,553 feet). The second is based on a painting by Thomas Gainsborough (1727 - 1788) titled "A man called Mr Wood - the Dancing Master (Oil on canvas c. 1757).   We hope you enjoy them.
On the subject of mountains...
With thanks to Julian and Kerstin Mason, for the clues and anagrams respectively, we have a series of anagrams on the theme of Scottish hills and mountains to challenge you. Conventional English spelling has been used throughout - apologies to Gaelic speakers. We will publish the answers in our next edition.
  • BE PHONE A virtuous mountain? (3,4)
  • NO NUT MEEK Eager to climb this (5,4)
  • NO BOLD MEN One of these is in Tasmania, but more likely you will see it from Glasgow (3,6)
  • BEE NORM Not a small hill (3,4)
  • LEFT GOAL Not so sure-footed (4,3)
  • PUPS OF A JAR 3 of these on an island (4,2,4)
  • BYE ON ALL No traitors here (3,5)
  • COSTLY PAL Parrots pile up here?
  • RUN THE BAR Also known for shoe repairs (3,6)
  • SURE HAS TART A capital climb (7, 4)
  • BEAR IN TALC Eat off stones in the Borders (5, 5)
  • PIN CLEANS NICE ICE SLAB It can be climbed (12, 8)
  • HOT VICE Not quite in Scotland (7)
  • CAN HE BE IN Dont dance in front of this (9)
  • NASTY BENS Change one letter and you have agreed (3,6)
  • GOAL RANCH Royal connections here (9)
  • A WALL LORD Sterling not accepted here (7,3)
  • CARS IN ROME 3 of these in SW Scotland (10)
  • SHIELD NO ILL Sir Walter Scott liked these (6,5)
  • HIS HAL ON ICE Slow at first, then quicker, in Perthshire (11)

RSCDS Dance Scottish at Home.
Since the last eUpdate we have had the fabulous Summer Celebration featuring  wealth of content from across the world. The recordings from each session are still available online - links and summaries below daily
  • Monday was hosted by Andrew Kellett and included:
    • Dancing Jigs with Alasdair Brown and Helen Russell leading up to Lady Catherine Bruce’s Reel;
    • Step for All with music by Muriel Johnstone and featuring Step 1 of The Scottish Lilt with Angela Young;
    • Behind the Dance with Duncan Brown’s The Chequered Court;
    • Musical Collaboration by previous Summer School Music Course attendees.
  • Tuesday was hosted by Lorna Ogilvie and included
    • International School sessions from the Scottish Country Dance Teachers’ Association (Canada) and the Hunter Valley Branch Australia;
    • Step 2 of The Scottish Lilt was taught by David Queen.
  • Wednesday was hosted by Anne Taylor and included:
    • Dancing Strathspeys with Gary Coull and Duncan Brown leading up to the Sauchie Haugh;
    • Step 3 of The Scottish Lilt was taught by Alice Stainer,
    • Behind the Dance with Elinor Vandegrift’s Granville Market; an interview with Ian Muir, RSCDS Music Director;
    • Musical Collaboration from the 2018 RSCDS Summer School Musicians’ Course.
  • Thursday was hosted by Jean Martin and included:
    • International School sessions from RSCDS Boston Branch with Pinewoods Dance Camp and RSCDS New Zealand Branch;
    • Step 4 of The Scottish Lilt was taught by David Hall.
  • Friday was hosted by William Williamson and included:
    • Dancing Reels with Rachel Shankland and Raphaelle Orgeret leading up to Lady Baird’s Reel;
    • Four Steps of The Scottish Lilt with Janet Johnston;
    • Behind the Dance with Ian Brockbank’s One O’Clock Canon;
    • Musical Collaboration from previous RSCDS Summer School Musicians’ Course attendees.
  • The Musician's Workshop ran from Tuesday  to Thursday. Each workshop had 2 distinct parts and covered a one style of music per day with 2 sets of tunes per workshop. The videos and sheet music will remain on the RSCDS website for a month - visit the website now to access this wonderful resource.

    The week finished with the Saturday night dance which featured dances nominated by RSCDS members.  Looking through the list it was interesting to see just how many of the chosen dances have featured in our own '3 favourite dances' articles over the last few months.  The cribs and videos  are still available online - ready for you to create your own evening of dance.
Many thanks to everyone who was involved in putting together this joyful week.

The weekly class
After the excitement of the Summer Celebration it was back to 'auld claes and porridge' the following week, sweetened, of course, by the Wednesday class which has become a weekly respite for so many of us. Last week's class came from  Sindelfingen, which is south west of Stuttgart, Germany.  Andrew Timmins took the global dancers through work on pas de bas transitions before dancing 'Glasgow Regatta' from Miss Milligan's Miscellany.

You can catch up with last week’s class and some of the chat here.

This week's class will once again fb on Wednesday evening at 7pm, lead by a mystery teacher and accessible via this link . We look forward to seeing you there!

To revisit any of the classes so far simply click on the relevant image or name below.
Angela Young, Mervyn Short, Dave Hall, Diane Hastie,William Williamson, Ron Wallace, Graham Donald, Atsuko Clement, Fiona Mackie, David McQueen, Debbie RoxburghRebecca Blackhall-Peters, Sue Porter, Trish NichollsSamuele GrazianiRobert McOwen
We will continue to include links from Dance Scottish at Home but, if you'd like your own personal copy simply visit, scroll to the bottom of the homepage and complete your details in the ‘Sign up for the RSCDS eNewsletter’ section. It’s quick and easy! There is also a DSAH webpage where you can access previous issues of the Dance Scottish At Home eNewsletter and view all of the Zoom online classes to date – visit

NHS advice on keeping yourself well:

Government advice here:
RSCDS Blog here:

We look forward to dancing with you soon.
Copyright © 2020 RSCDS London Branch, All rights reserved.

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