RSCDS Image Change

The_Healys

Message 9728 · 26 Nov 1997 11:41:32 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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Of interest perhaps. From today's e-edition of <The Scotsman>

In search of yeeoouth appeal
Scottish country dancing relaunches itself to prove that the
eightsome reel is really cool
LYNN COCHRANE

THINK of Scottish country dancing and the picture that springs to
mind is stuffy society balls frequented by people called Torquil or
twee Hogmanay broadcasts.

All that is about to change. Yesterday, the Royal Scottish Country
Dance Society announced that our reel heritage is getting a kick up
the Nineties. The society, launched 75 years ago, has employed a
public relations firm to revamp its staid plaid image in an attempt
to attract younger enthusiasts.

Inspired by the success of rumbustious ceilidh dancing, it is
planning a worldwide campaign to market its 5,000 dances from the
fiddle faddle to the eightsome reel. It also wants to see the
return of Scottish country dancing to the curriculum of secondary
schools.

Speaking at the campaign launch in Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms
yesterday, the society's chairman, Bill Clement, set about
demolishing misconceptions about the tradition.

He said: "Many people think of Scottish country dancing as being
either elitist or boring - something for old fuddy duddies or upper
class twits - who all wear wee lace-up shoes - and who don't know
how to have fun - all prima and proper and pointy toes. This is not
an image with which many people, especially the young, want to be
associated."

The society's aim was to become "more dynamic", he added.
"Traditional music and dance has become very sexy recently. Look at
the phenomenal success of Riverdance and the growing popularity of
line dancing.

"All things Scottish are very trendy right now - in fashion and in
the film industry. 'Foreigners' like Mel Gibson, Ted Danson and
Liam Neeson have all helped the image of Scotland globally, plus of
course our own exports. We are keen to capitalise on that public
enthusiasm and revive Scottish country dancing and its music,
especially here in Scotland."

The revamp includes a new youthful logo, a booklet about Scottish
country dancing and a launch on the Internet. From Friday to Sunday
more than 17,000 young dancers will take part in a Day of Dance
from Lochaber to London.

However, the campaign's main focus is to reinstate country dancing
in secondary schools. The tradition died out in most state schools
about 20 years ago partly because of staffing levels and new rules
about extra-curricular activities.

The society is producing school packs and has submitted a plea to
the body examining changes to the curriculum that country dancing,
which is still taught in many private schools, should be taught to
all secondary school children.

Mr Clement said: "It is part of our children's and grandchildren's
Scottish heritage and shouldn't be lost."

To help convince doubters, Mr Clement had brought along dancers
from primary and secondary schools.

Junior champions, Callum Anderson, Paula Robertson, Emily Smith,
and David Hall, all fifth year pupils at Wallace Hall Academy in
Dumfriesshire danced the Macdonald of Sleat.

"I suppose country dancing does have an image problem," said Paula
Robertson. "But where we are everyone likes it."

Her partner Callum added: "We like it because a social life comes
with it. We've already been to a festival in France and we've been
invited back."

Many of the dances date back to the 18th century and were taken
round the country by professional dance masters. Mr Clement said:
"I think they probably came from England or even France but we took
them and put our own Scottish stamp on them."

The RCDS was formed in 1923 by two women, Jean Milligan, a lecturer
in physical education at Jordanhill College, Glasgow, and Ysobel
Stewart, daughter of a Campbell laird on Loch Fyne. Its objective
was to "revive Scottish country dancing and to restore it to the
ballroom in a dignified and sociable manner". Over the years it has
built up a membership of around 25,000 worldwide.

One of the common misconceptions is that country dancing is a
generic term for every Scottish dance from the Highland fling to
the St Bernard's waltz. Mr Clement said: "Scottish country dancing
is different from other forms of Scottish dancing which is either
done singly, as in Highland dancing, or in pairs like ceilidh
dancing. Scottish country dancing uses sets or groups of people
who move around all evening, changing partners and groups.

"It is as much about social interaction as it is about dancing. And
anyone who thinks it is boring has obviously never tried it."

One person's shindig is another's serious art

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A Django site.