Now that the summer solstice has passed we all know at least one 'cheery' person who will reflect that 'the nights are drawing in'. That's true, of course, but the days are long, the weather is (sometimes) sunny and life is changing bit by bit. Lockdown restrictions are beginning to relax, more shops and businesses are opening (with staff tentatively emerging from their 'remote working' hibernation into the forgotten, if sometimes mixed, blessings of communal working) whilst children are discovering that actually, school might not be all bad. As we move into what would be the quieter season for dance, and people have more things to do outside, we're proposing to drop the frequency of these updates to fortnightly. Please do continue to share your dances, music, puzzles, anecdotes. and we'll happily include in the next edition.
Whilst we're on the subject of content, the next edition of the Reel is due at the end of August. Given the lack of dancing in recent months we don't have quite the wide range of photographs that we'd normally enjoy. So, if you have good quality photographs of past events (500kB minimum) and a story to tell (a paragraph would be fine) please do send to the Reel Editorial team for consideration.
Each summer, many of us look forward to an annual trip to Scotland to visit friends and family. Few of us will be able to make the journey this year so, in lieu of that, we're including two very different poetic takes on a Scottish summer - the classic Robert Louis Stevenson childhood lament (on the unfairness of being expected to go to bed on a light, bright, Scottish summer evening) and 'the Street Poet''s rather more dour interpretation of a Scottish summer (spoken version here).
There will, of course, be no 2020 RSCDS Summer School in St Andrews but, in this week's Dance Scottish at Home newsletter, the Society''s chair, Andrew Kellett, announced a virtual celebration of Scottish dance from 27 – 31 July. We are promised classes, music, talks, pictures and the chance to ‘chat’ with friends each evening, plus a dance playlist, chosen by RSCDS members as the Saturday finale on 1 August. More details to come but a joyful date to add to your diary,
Our eUpdate this week contains videos celebrating the Scottish landscape, 3 further favourite dances, some puzzles and more news from this week's 'Dance Scottish at Home' newsletter, Plus, completely unrelated to SCD, yet strangely appealing, a COVID-19 era performance at Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house.
Please do let us know if you find something to share with fellow London dancers. Quizzes, favourite dance videos and memories of dancing in times past - all welcomed.
Scottish Dance Videos
For this week's video we have decided to celebrate the beauty of the Scottish landscape. We have chosen a relaxing 50 minute film showing the Scottish countryside taken from above.
Flying Over Scotland takes viewers on a stunning and calming journey to the Highlands and Isle of Skye. If you scroll down the web page you will be able to see a list of the locations; these include iconic castles, pristine beaches, and rugged landscapes. Although the film does contain some advertising, we are sure that this will not spoil your enjoyment.
We very much hope you enjoy this chance to visit Scotland from the comfort of your own home.
Thanks again to Peter Knight and to Meryl and Ian Thomson for sourcing and making available these lovely films.
Three of my favourite dances – Willie Lawrence
Following last week's selections from Judy Valvona, this week Willie Lawrence, who dances with the Park Walk Technique Class, shares his favourite dances with us.
As a relatively new dancer (I began learning at the London branch Chelsea classes in 2014) my choice of favourites is heavily influenced by three questions - do I know the formations, can I dance them and will I remember them in the heat of the dance? Thanks to the patient support of a good number of teachers and partners I’ve got better at all three. I’ve had some great evenings dancing my chosen dances and every memory adds to the enjoyment the next time I’m on the dance floor. Pretty much any dance I can remember is a favourite but these three have something special!
Strathspey: Minister on the Loch 3/3L · S32 devised by Roy Goldring
This is an elegant dance with no frills. I grew up knowing that a certain respect was due to ‘the Minister’ so the name calls back to childhood. The formations really do echo the skating movements of the minister in the famous image. It’s slow, stately (like all the best strathspeys) and I enjoy dancing this with my wife as we pull each other in the right direction!
Jig: Farewell to Balfour Road 5/5L · J32 devised by Andrew Buxton
This is a fun dance with fun music. A five couple dance, it’s fast moving and a popular choice, always followed by an encore. As a relatively new dance (Book 52) I first came across it at summer school and it makes a great break between more traditional dances. It requires a degree of concentration with no room for complacency. I’ve relaxed a few too many times at the end of my turn as first couple, only to realise that I need to keep moving.
Reel: Countess of Dunmore’s Reel 3/4L · R32 devised by Deirdre MacCuish Bark
Another relatively new dance, this time from Book 49 with a lively Muriel Johnstone tune. The phrasing is critical as the dancers move through corner pass and turn into a chain progression which, if danced well, is a beautiful movement. It’s fast moving, demands concentration and is very satisfying to dance.
Whether you have been dancing a long time or just started, please do tell us what YOUR choices would be? Email email@example.com to tell us about them.
Previous weeks' selections
We've begun to compile dances nominated in previous weeks into dance lists on the my.strathspey.org 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. More recent nominations are shown below.
Our puzzle this week is taken from one of the dances mentioned elsewhere in this eUpdate - click on the image of Sir Henry Raeburn, The Skating Minister, and solve the jigsaw puzzle.
Here are the answers to last week's Spot the Difference compiled by Thelma Jane Robb.
Did you manage to find all eight differences?
RSCDS Dance Scottish at Home.
The Dance Scottish at Home series of newsletters has been a great source of interesting content during these lockdown weeks. The Thursday challenge has previously called for fancy dress, photos, anecdotes and more. This week, we're asked to tell what it was like for us to learn to “Dance Scottish”. Whether you started dancing as a child or came to it later in life, why not share your story with firstname.lastname@example.org?
Following Andrew Kellett's exciting news of the Summer Celebration we're asked to send in photo views from Dancing Schools and Weekends that we have attended. Each evening during the Summer Celebration will feature a “Dancing Postcard Slideshow” of places where members have danced. We will dance together again but meanwhile, let's share the memories of good time past.
Other content included a virtual tour of the National Museums of Scotland and an introduction to Highland Hustle - a modern dance workout, inspired by Scotland and Scottish dance, as well as the usual history, puzzles, music, podcasts and more.
This week's online class came from Summerland in British Columbia, Canada. Lockdown has relaxed a little there so Rebecca Blackhall-Peters was able to take us through a class supported by 5 other dancers. Who would have thought it could feel so strange to see 6 people dancing together, live?
This week's class focused on reels, culminating in a 'no hands' version of the Red House Reel.
You can catch up with this week’s class and some of the chat here.
Next week's class, with a different teacher, will be at 7pm on Wednesday and available via A NEW LINK (important! different to previous weeks). Grateful thanks to RSCDS, the teachers and the technicians who make this weekly class possible.
To revisit any of the classes so far simply click on the relevant image or name below.
We will continue to include links from Dance Scottish at Home but, if you'd like your own personal copy simply visit www.rscds.org, 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 www.rscds.org/get-involved/dance-scottish-home.